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We're in Hoi An, it's November and its 30 degrees! Crazy!

sunny 34 °C
View Doyle and Dan's Adventure on doyledan's travel map.

Day 1

Moving on from Hue we took another open bus or Hung Tranh as it is known in Vietnam to Hoi An. We had heard great things about this place from friends back home and people we met so we were eager to get through the 6 hour bus ride.

On the way to Hoi An we travelled in the daytime and it made a huge difference to the open bus experience mainly because the scenery was so amazing that you didn't feel like the bus ride was a chore. When we reached Hoi An we had arranged pickup which was a blessing as we couldn't be arsed to walk it. Hoi An is a small place but with our bags, especially Sarah's, weighing a lot and looking like you are carrying a rhino on your back you can understand our slight laziness. As we jumped in our taxi we whizzed through the streets and the driver stopped and said 'one minute' . It turned out he had a pickup and managed to get a local tourist to help him chuck in this huge bag which I can only guess was laundry.

Anyway we set off only to stop again shortly and we thought this cant be it, and it wasn't. The driver had to drop off his big bag, so dutifully I stepped out and gave him a hand to which he was very grateful. It was fortunate we were in good spirits and so happy to help.

Finally reaching our hotel we thought it looked rather plush compared to our other hostels and was impressed to have a awesome pool which would be our saving from the incredible heat that was to follow.


To get our bearings we ventured out to see what Hoi An had to offer, and it was clear from the off that this was the tailoring capital of Vietnam. Loads of shops lined the streets offering all sorts of suits and jackets made to measure and it was tempting to say the least however before we decided on that I needed to get my haircut.

Now this was a simple enough challenge and within minutes I found a barbershop and sat for my cut. The man who cut my hair was very good and knew what I was after despite the both of us lacking the ability to speak the others language. It was all going to plan and then something got lost in translation and he began to pull at a sharp razor edge knife.....oh dear..... in my haste I had opted for the full monty as it were and he began shaving my recently cut beard and then continued to then run the blade over other parts of my face including ear lopes and eye lids!!


It wasn't that much of an ordeal really until he broke out the tool kit which had been kept in a coke can and put on a head torch! This was were I got more than I bargained for and he began burrowing into my ear. What came out of my my first ear I will save you the torment of showing but let's just say Sarah was quite shocked to see how much had came out..... I'm sorry .... Not the nicest thing to read but it was too much of an 'experience' not to be documented. Sarah says it looked like an alien coming out!


The unfortunate thing was that my other ear was more tricky and he battled with it for a bit too long, so much so that my ear ached for quite some time after.

Upon leaving the barber shop fully cleaned we decided we needed some bikes to get round so for the mere cost of 80p each for the day we got our bikes and rode on. The heat on this day was upwards of 30 degrees and to be on a bike was a blessing being able to get the wind in your face. Getting the bikes turned out to be smart decision because we were able to cover a good distance but also make our way away from tourist centre for a bit.


Our off the beaten track route led us to a dead end and we turned back to to town, not before buying a couples of cokes from a local family who Sarah found out had a baby on the way and the lady asked if she could she keep the change. We obliged.

During our cycle we visited the Japanese walking bridge which is quite small and had two animals at either end which represented when it started being built and the year it was finished. When it was started it was the year of the Dog and when it was finished it was the year of the Monkey. Vietnamese culture seemed to have similar themes as Chinese and the Animal calendar was one of the them.


On our way back we had worked up an appetite and chose a restaurant on the river to hopefully cool down. It wasn't easy. We did however order one of Hoi An specialities 'Cao Lao Noodles', which Sarah took a huge liking too.


Pictured is the ingredients but what made it was the soup that came with the dish, the flavouring had an aniseed type taste but not to intense. It was delicious ...and again you can't complain for £1.20.

When it got to the evening we decided we wanted to try some more local cuisine so we opted to go to Mermaid restaurant which in its menu described its beginnings as the first restaurant which was part of a chain now round Hoi An that a young women had created which is very successful. The idea was to bring the foods she had grown up with to the mainstream tourists.

Well we tried a few of them and again we were not disappointed. Vietnamese are known for their fine cuisine and this place in Hoi An was a great representative.


After dinner we walked around taking in the evening entertainment and beautiful candles and lanterns that lit up the streets and I had a go out trying to scare Sarah with a torch....it's a bit late for Halloween now but I think this would of been a good addition.....creepy!


Day 2

Today we wanted to continue our with seeing the sights on a bicycle and chose to get a guided tour with one of the recommended companies Love of Life. We chose the artists hand tour as it was an opportunity to see how locals produced the sleeping mats, pottery, lanterns and woodwork that are sold throughout the streets. Arriving via taxi we met our guide Vinh and were surprised that we were the only people on the tour but it did mean we had our own private tour which was good.

Once the seats were adjusted and water packed we set off and rode through the streets and made our way to the port to get a ferry down the river. Upon reaching our destination we rode onwards passing rice paddie fields and stopped to take pictures. Our guide was insistent on taking our photos which was great but it was quite funny because he began to treat it like his own professional photo-shoot, directing us like models. It was good to be in the countryside seeing the buffaloes and the white birds that follow them for the flies, and Vinh told us that 80% of Vietnam is countryside!


We rode for a short while and Vinh would point out different crops that were grown in the area and it wasn't long before we reached what seemed like an impassable bridge. To look at it you would think this must have been damaged in a flood or something but sure enough as we looked across it to the other side a motorbike began to cross and made it look easy, so we didn't question it and rode on. I was impressed that Sarah took on her reservations and rode across the whole thing without hesitation.


It wasn't long after that we reached our first stop and were led into an old couples home to watch them prepare grass sleeping mats. Their home was very basic, built out of wood and corrugated iron. We learned that the sleeping mats they made took half a day to make and would earn them $2.5 each, about £1. It was amazing that they are able to sit crossed legged for that long at 76 years old! The sleeping mats were made out of purposely grown grass in the surrounding fields which grow to at least a metre and half before it is cut down, dried out and dyed.


As we watched the couple we joked with the guide about how much bigger I was to them and we also found out they had a grandson who lived with them because the father had left at birth and the mother had fled to the city to start a new life, which was sometimes common occurrence for the rural families.

We made our way back over the bridge and stopped at the other end to have a drink. As we sat by the river to quench our thirst some locals began chatting to our guide and signalling to me to come over.....oh dear..... The big guy wanted to arm wrestle me! I thought best not be rude and got up and sat down oppsosite him knowing full well that this was going to be a short battle. It turned put he wanted me to wrestle with his son which would have been fine but his son had obviously inherited a lot of his fathers genes and probably worked on the fishing boats all day because he was a big fella too. Anyway, despite my best efforts I did lose but all was not lost because they all thought I was French (apparently some locals are not aware of other nationalities other than the French who colonised Vietnam).


Next stop was the local wood workshop where they built pagodas which are shipped around the world. The style in which the guys who made
these works of art was quite different to home mainly because health and safety is not in the Vietnamese vocabulary. These workman would be barefoot holding the wood down with their feet whilst hammering and chipping away, but the work they made was exquisite.


After the woodshop we popped into the local boat builders and watched them cut the rivets to an almost finished fishing boat which again was beautifully made and we were told would cost thousands of pounds. It was a short stop but was good to see the craftsmanship. We journeyed to the next ferry and the driver was very friendly and even let me have a go at steering the boat. We noticed that most of the boats had eyes painted on the front and Vinh told us that this was to make the boats friendly to the fisherman who were away from their families.


Once we stopped we had docked at a village who specialise in making pottery. We walked round for a bit and then were shown to a house where there were two women spinning the clay and preparing different types of pottery. One of the women had the tiring job of keeping the pottery wheel spinning using her foot. It wasn't long before Sarah and I had a go and to be fair we both did quite well for our first time. The whole thing reminded me of Art lessons back at school.


Last on the agenda was the where they made lanterns however once we got there it appeared they were on lunch which was a bit disappointing as we were particulalry interested in learning more about how these are made as they are everywhere in Hoian. However we were able to look around and we did get some ideas for wedding decorations.


After the lanterns we cycled for a short while and were taken for lunch to a fanatastic cafe who served up some delicious local foods. Sarah had the curry and I had the stuffed squid. We both were glad to have a good lunch after the half day trip and after we returned our bikes it was decided that being so hot we would chill by the pool and enjoy food and drinks at the hotel. Happy days.

Day 3

Our last day in Hoi An we wanted to visit the beach so we hired bikes again and took the 10 min ride. Is was a scorcher of a day and the sweat beads were dripping as soon as you stopped. On the beach we lazed and dazed and I went for my first run since Beijing. The beach was picturesque and it was difficult to leave, but we had to as we were on our way to the next destination Nha Trang. In our way was a 14 hour bus ride , but being seasoned pros we took it in all our stride.


Stay tuned for more tales.......

Posted by doyledan 21:46 Archived in Vietnam

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