Hoi An is lovely!
We stayed in Sunflower Hotel which was a little way out of the main town but it was only 20 minute walk or a 10 minute cycle. We met up with Lucy who had been in Hoi An for 5 days already. She loved the place too but headed to Na Trang the following day to celebrate Christmas. The village is very sweet, lots of lovely little restaurants by the river and many clothes shops to get tailor made clothes! I probably could live here it's so lovely and chilled. And at night the village is buzzing with people, there are colourful lanterns decorating the entire village it really is sweet. Although when everything closes at about 11pm, the place looks so different and deserted. It's not great to walk alone when everything closes! There are taxis and motortaxis about so it's not too bad. It just seems to go very quiet very quickly. There are only 2 or 3 bars that actually stay open until late and they are even dotted around the village. We loved walking around the village, trying lots of different foods (including Hoi An specialities such as Cau Lau (LUSH - thick noodles cooked with chicken salt, pepper, garlic, sugar, spring onion, a meat and a bit of mint) Wonton and enjoying beer for 7000 dong, that's less than 50p. We had a little scary moment when we went to pick our bikes up after dinner and a few drinks as when we went to unlock our bikes (that had mysteriously moved down the road!) a Vietnamese lady came up demanding us to pay 20,000 dong to her. I didn't know why so was saying no these are our bikes, we have the key to the lock, we are not going to pay her money but she grabbed onto Lotties bike and gave us the biggest stare ever we thought we would just give her 10,000 dong and get away fast! So we have been walking faster than normal down that road now praying she won't come chasing after us again. We had fun eating Cau Lau, Wonton and a Hot Pot in a cooking class we went to the following day. We enjoyed our Wonton in a local street food market that we went back to ask them to teach us how to cook some of the dishes rather than pay $20+ for a cooking class with lots of other people. We thought it would be nice to support the lady on the street who worked 7 days a week, day in day out! It was good fun.
Christmas day HAPPY CHRISTMAS ...we visited Marble Mountain which was 30 minute on a motorbike. We climbed up the mountain and there was a massive budda placed in every cave. I'm not quite sure how they got them up the mountain and in the caves, it is pretty impressive. We climbed to the top through some caves and were stopped by some Chinese lads who wanted their photo with us (this is a common occurrence here, I'm not sure if they think I look like someone famous which I very much doubt, or they just like to take any random Western-looking person and get a photo. Do we look funny or something? So we then headed back to Hoi An to grab our favourite dish, Cau Lau from our favourite restaurant! We picked up our dresses that we had made and lined before heading to NaSpa where we enjoyed a mud body wrap and massage for 350,000 dong (about £11). It was lovely and relaxing as we got covered all over in mud liquid and were left there to soak in the mud for about 20mins then we washed it off (great bonding time for Lottie and I rubbing each other down!!) then we were pleasantly surprised with a body massage too. It was lovely, despite my calfs being rather tight from my run the day before. We headed back to the hotel, tucked into some good old toblerone and wished the family happy Christmas on skype! We treated ourselves to an upper class restaurant in the town called "Morning Glory". It is a very popular restaurant for tourists to dine in and is fully booked most nights! So it was an enjoyable dinner a prawn curry dish, but I wouldn't particularly say that it was any better than any of the other restaurants about, or even the street food we had on the other side of the river. As it was Christmas day, we popped open a bottle of Chardonnay. Yummy. On our way to get dessert, we bumped into some lads who were heading to a bar, so we joined them instead and spent all night with them dancing the night away. I also bumped into a girl who I actually worked with in Camp America, about 5 years ago! Small world or what! After a just a few beers (J) we walked home to bed about 3am.
Wednesday 26th, it was very sad to say bye to Lottie. After 2 and a half weeks of travelling together and not knowing when I was going to see her again was sad! But heading to Kenya for the New Year and then flying to Sierra Leone to find a job, she had a great adventure ahead of her too! Yey, lots of luck Lottie hun. Boxing day was spent chilling in the village with a drink and planning the next few days. I had dinner in with 2 aussie girls and 2 british girls who I met in the dorm when we first arrived in Hoi An. We sat in a restaurant by the river, and as it was the 14th of the month, the town celebrate the half-moon with music, lanterns and no lights! It was a great atmosphere, the town was buzzing, kids were playing some type of karate outside, men were playing some sort of Chinese chess and many people were outside playing music. Whilst eating dinner we had a boat opposite playing us some music, it was like a private show! Every night the river overflows onto the path and so you have to walk through the water to get to the restaurants on the river front. There didn't seem to be any draining system to avoid this from happening. Very strange. We all brought a lantern so all made a wish when we floated it down the river. We headed back to the hotel and I ended up finding out about travelling South America from an Aussie guy who was coming to the end of his travels. He did South America first and then Europe, so I was getting a few top tips from him till the early hours of the morning, sat at the front watching the rain!
Thursday 27th Tom and I went to the town to fill up on food before our bus journey to Na Trang (just $10 for a 12 hour trip). I think that's actually an understatement. First we had a drink on an old mans boat that he made into a sweet little bar. Then we had some street food back where Lottie and I did our cooking class and on top of that we wanted to try this street BBQ food that we saw eearlier -they gave us a tray of flavoured meat on skewers, some rice paper, lettuce and sticky white stuff that looked and tasted like the white rose I tried the previous day. It was really tasty but we were not quite expecting that much food, so were exploding by the time we finished both meals. I jumped on a sleeper bus at 6pm and got chatting to a couple who I actually met in Vang Viene (not that we realised for a while!).
Next is Na Trang...
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and Happy New Year to you all xx