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Published: October 18th 2014
After two weeks of travelling, mostly in cities, it was so refreshing to arrive in Hoi An, a small coastal city surrounded by lots of open countryside. The gateway was Da Nang, Vietnam's fourth largest city. From there it was only a 30 ish minutes taxi ride.
Our base has been The Ancient Village Resort Hotel. Whilst the village might be ancient, the hotel was not. Just a couple of years old, set in on the edge of a village next to open rice fields, a couple of km out of Hoi An; it has been a real treat to stay here. Best bit was the free room upgrade. The distance out of the main centre has not been a problem since there are free, regular minibus shuttles throughout the day and evening and free bike hire.
So, minimal traffic, no air pollution, no skyscrapers and the main part of the city, the Ancient Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's position on the Thu Bon river has allowed it to develop as a port. In the 16th - 17th century it was a major international port, with influences from the Cham, Chinese, Japanese and most recently Vietnamese
Walking around the old town what is most obvious is that whilst the ancient layout and structures still exist, what goes on there now is 99% to do with tourism. Shop after shop selling clothing, bangly things, sunglasses, tours and food. If you want a made to measure suit or dress, this is the place to come; much cheaper than Top Shop. As you wander around the odd antiquity, like the 17th centuryJapanese Bridge, are fascinating to see.
One recommendation that we had been able to follow up on was from Callum, my Godson, who had been out here earlier in the year. "Hi's Restaurant was the best", so following his directions we tracked it down. Maybe four tables in from of an open kitchen, in a food arcade with several small eateries. The sautéed chicken with lemongrass and chilli was absolutely yummy. Thanks Cal.
For the first time since starting the trip we got to swim in the sea - The South China Sea. About 5km from the hotel was Cua Dai Beach. Getting there was easy, just hopped on a free bicycle. This would not have been possible in any of our previous stops
Big thanks to Callum Ellis, a great recommendation and excellent directions.
(for fear of instant collision with moped, Tuk Tuk, or car). The hotel had an agreement with one of the beachside restaurants that allowed us access to a private beach with sun beds and parasols. The hotel staff were a bit off putting about the idea, this was because they class this as winter, so the temperature would max at only just over 30C and there would be wind whipping up waves. Sounded pretty good to us and it was. A bit cloudy to start with, but that cleared. There was gentle wind and waves the whole time. The sea was lovely, just what holidaymakers to Cornwall might hope for on the best of summer days! Mind you, the wind masked the fact that we were getting lobstered (sunburnt) the whole time we were there, not too badly though.
Our next stop, after this afternoon's flight is Hanoi; back on the city trail.
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