Day 121: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hoi An, Vietnam

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March 28th 2010
Published: April 2nd 2010
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Day 121: Sunday, March 28th, 2010.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hoi An, Vietnam.

Days 3-4 Hoi An
Leaving Ho Chi Minh City, we fly to Danang (about 1 hour) before continuing our journey to Hoi An by bus (about 40 minutes). On arrival, we take an orientation tour of the ancient town. Once a thriving river port, Hoi An's distinctive architecture has been preserved and restored, making it a favourite with Intrepid travellers and leaders alike. Wandering the streets and narrow alleyways here brings hours of pleasure and discovery and you'll still be able to get a taste of the town's affinity with trade at the many great little shops selling ceramics, woodware, handicrafts and tailored clothing. There is something for everyone in Hoi An and it is the perfect place to pick up gifts for those at home. Our accommodation in Hoi An is located near all the attractions of Hoi An Ancient Town and has lovely twin and double rooms with private facilities and air conditioning. The hotel also has a restaurant, bar and a pool.

So, as Intrepid said, we flew to Da Nang (not to be confused with "Da Bears") today and then took a bus to Hoi An. What a nice opposite to Saigon. There are still scooters here, but since it's a much smaller city, not nearly as many. Plus, the atmosphere is more relaxed and inviting. My humble opinion. This is a big town to get tailored clothes, so there are shops everywhere. You can get a dress, made to your measurements, in 24 hours for around $50 US. We got to our hotel, the Dong Khanh Hotel, and I'm rooming with Susan this time. We get our key- room 402. That would be 4th floor, and there is no lift. Luckily there was a bellhop who was willing to carry Monstro up the stairs for me. I tipped him 10,000 Dong and he seemed happy (that's 50 cents.) Again, everything is so cheap here. Lunch today only cost me 80,000 Dong (about $1.70) and I had marinated chicken and rice.

So, yeah, lunch. We dumped our stuff in the room and met everyone in the lobby and we walked about 10 minutes to another "Bao approved" restaurant (he hasn't chosen wrong so far!) Cute little place full of tourists. I ordered above mentioned meal and it was good. After lunch, we went over to the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall. A beautiful building with cool swirly things hanging from the ceiling that were actually coils of burning incense. This is used as a meeting place but also a worship place- many shrines set up. As we were leaving, my stomach did a familiar grumble. I thought I could ignore it but about 1 minute later I knew I couldn't. We had left the Hall by then so I told Bao I'd meet up with them down the road and ran back to the Assembly Hall to use their bathroom. I convinced the ticket guy at the door that I had just been there (Bao had the ticket) and he let me thru. Then they wanted money for the toilet and I had no small change. So, I left there, found a hotel and asked them kindly if I could use theirs. I could! And that brings us to Amanda's Travel Tip of the Day: In Asia, always have toilet paper with you. Luckily I obeyed my own tip this time. I left there, headed down the road and met up with the group at the Japanese Bridge. As we were about to cross it, my stomach gurgled again and I said goodbye to the group and called it quits.

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at the Blue Eye tailor shop because we had to place orders today in order to pick up tomorrow. I wasn't feeling up to it, but she was kind enough to quickly take my measurements so that I could run back to the hotel. I ordered two dresses and a jacket. All made to fit me perfectly and for only $185 total. Nice! I thanked her, promised to stop by tomorrow around Noon for a fitting and dashed back to the hotel. I stopped at a cart outside the hotel and picked up two things that would help my stomach issues: Bottled water and Oreos. And it worked- so don't doubt the method. About 5 minutes after I got to the room, I heard a phone ringing. I looked around the room- no phone. It wasn't my cell- it was definitely the room's phone, but where the hell was it? I finally found it in the drawer of the night stand between the beds. K. It was Bao- he wanted to make sure I got back alright and that I was still alive. I told him I was fine, there was nothing left to get sick on, and that I'd see them tonight for dinner. About an hour later, Susan came back and told me that I had missed the Old House of Tan Ky, the Old House of Quang Thang, and the Museum of Trade Ceramics. However, I didn't hear stellar reviews from anyone so I think I picked a good day to get sick. Plus, it rained non stop here. For the most part, it was just a light drizzle. But the umbrella was always open. Reminded me of Forrest Gump saying, "It started raining and it didn't stop for 4 months." Wonder if that's what we're in for.

Susan and I went down to the lobby at 7 to meet up with everyone for dinner. I dropped off some laundry at the front desk ($1 per kilogram- nice!) and we headed out. Bao decided to give us a break tonight and we ate at a great Italian Restaurant (after "googling", I think it was "Good Morning Vietnam"). I think we were all prepared to be disappointed, but it was just the opposite. It was some of the best Italian food I have had (lasagna baby!). I know it wasn't the wisest to eat a bunch of cheese and heavy pasta after the day I had, but tough. It tasted so good and familiar- bring it on!!! After dinner, us youngins' headed back to the hotel and the older crowd, once again, had the energy to go to a bar. On the walk back the streets were so quiet, it was strange. But, we never felt like we were in danger- it was very peaceful. It honestly reminded me of a tv stage after hours. Everything looked exactly like you would picture for this part of the world, but no one was around. This is a great city and a definite "go visit" in my book.

So, 11pm now and I'm calling it a night because I'm getting up at 6:15am to get ready and to go see the My Son Temple Ruins. I imagine Susan is going crazy listening to the click click click of my keyboard as she tries to sleep. Oops- sorry!

Additional photos below
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15th April 2010

You ditched the group and went shopping?
Always travel with Oreos, too, apparently. Maybe you can get them to sponsor your next adventure.

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