January 25th to January 28th
30.01.2016 -16 °C
On the map, I have included where I am going next after Hoi An
An hour after leaving Hanoi, I landed in Danang which is considered to be Central Vietnam and I got a minivan to Hoi An upon landing which is just a 45 minute drive away. Hoi An itself does not have an airport or a train station and this in itself seems to have helped Hoi An retain its delightful atmosphere. It is known as a very "balanced", having a quieter lifestyle than many places and it is known as the most traditional cities in Vietnam. It is a World Heritage Site, as the buildings in the Old City are remarkable and are a living memory of its history. It simply is gorgeous and very, very charming. At night it comes alive with coloured lanterns strung in the trees, across the narrow windy streets and of course the vendors who sell the lamps. It is hard not to find yourself drawn to these lamps. Luckily I resisted the temptation to buy one! I know when I get home, I would not have anywhere to put it. But do I have photos!
Hoi An coloured lanterns
The city is really alive at night along the river where there are endless boatmen and women (mostly women) who want to take you on a 45 minute ride up the river and back. I did it on my own my first day. The boatwoman handed me an oar and expected me to do my part. I did stop a few times to take some photos. It was good exercise for sure.
Boatwoman - it's a hard life......
Another charming part of Hoi An at night is all the women and children who are selling these little candle boats, all different colours and then you float them in the river. They do look gorgeous. I never managed to get away with floating any less than three or four an evening particularly as they were more willing for me to take a photo if I bought one. Nighttime photography is a challenge for sure.
Bridge over the river in Hoi An lit up at night - quite a sight!
Candles floating on river in the daytime. You can see the lovely buildings in the background.
There are many many great restaurants here mostly serving Vietnamese food but there is also Italian places, an Indian restaurant and plenty of bakeries selling all sorts of tempting treats. Because of the French influence on Vietnam from colonial days, they really know how to bake and the bread is to die for. These wonderful baguettes which sadly come with every breakfast and I simply cannot resist!
There’s lots of seafood served here and this will continue for the next few weeks of my trip as I will be near the ocean. This is a big treat as it is so fresh and generally Vietnamese food is fantastic.
There are a lot of tourists here and lots of shops and lovely things to buy. Hoi an is known for it’s tailors who will sew clothing in just a day. They have a lot of silk here and men often get suits made very cheaply. There must be 200 to 300 or perhaps more tailors.
There are many many historical buildings in the city which you can visit, but I found myself not wanting to do this as there are so many tourists visiting them that it doesn't appeal to me. I already know I need to come back to Vietnam again, so I suspect Hoi An will be on my route and probably will do a bit more exploring inside of the buildings at that time.
There is a French photographer Etienne, Brosset, who lives here with his family and who offers sunrise photo tours which I joined twice while here. We went out to a fishing village, just near the ocean and spent 4 hours there. The boats come in and unload their fish and the women haggle over the fish in the market. It is quite amazing. I even saw a fight break out with two women over fish.
Etienne, goes to this village three times a week and has been doing this for years, so he has a great relationship with the people and speaks Vietnamese fluently. Each morning we met a number of different villagers and were able to photograph them. What faces!!
The "Bamboo Man" who makes all things bamboo including basket boats
We visited a smelly fish sauce factory with is really just a small cottage industry. I always imagined that those bottles of fish sauce came from big factories, but there I was watching them bottle, label and even shrink the plastic wrap around six bottles together with a hairdryer! Now that is the personal touch.
Another cottage industry we visited and they were making some kind of dried thin pancake.
I really could have spent all day in this village as there is always something going on that is interesting. Etienne was a fantastic instructor and I feel like I really benefited from his instruction.
View over the Thon Bhu River near the fishing village with those fantastic nets they use for fishing
I spent one day at a homestay, in countryside, just a 20 minutes from Hoi An. A homestay is when people create rooms in their homes for guests to stay. Generally they are more personal than hotels and give you more of a sense of being in Vietnam. This homestay was run by Vy and Hoi who were a really sweet couple who have created a beautiful place for us to stay. I could not have designed anything more lovely. There are a number of ponds on their land in which they have fish, shrimp and crab which they sell mostly other than what they use themselves. They have beautiful gardens and also the flower gardens were lovely as well. It was such a peaceful place to stay.
There were bicycles that we could use and so I cycled a lot while there out to the rice fields where there were mostly women working in them planting rice seedlings and then just exploring the area by peddling down the little lanes. I so enjoyed this.
Just before I was to check out of my room I found the river and this place that offers basket boat rides. Basket boats are very common here and as you can see they are round. They even take the out in the ocean. I can’t imagine it really . How vulnerable they would feel! So I got lured into taking a 30 minute ride with this boatman that he spent quite a lot of time teaching me how to make a ring from the palm fronds and then a crown, which I will include a photo. I have to say I felt a bit silly but what to do…….
A few more photos of Hoi An:
Rickshaw drivers in Hoi An waiting for potential passengers which are usually Chinese tourists in groups of 30 or more!!
A frequent sight in Hoi An as fruit sellers love to set up a photograph and then insist on you buying their fruit at a healthy price!
So here I am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Ho Chi Minh City or as it is know HCMC. I will just stay overnight and then head to the Mekong Delta tomorrow morning which is just a four hour bus ride. I am hoping for clean windows so I can see the landscape!! It should be warm, like in the mid-thirties.