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Published: November 20th 2012
Separated from the herd
A herd of goats jumped over the wall as we drove up the mountain from Hue to Hanoi. This smart one decided to walk along the wall,iinstead of risking his life on the road with his mates.
We had planned to take our time on the drive from Hue to Hoi An, however it was bucketing down so we basically drove straight there. It still took a while, however, due to 80km speed limits, torrential rain, goats, 20km/hr trucks and the many touriste buses carrying French tour groups. It was enjoyable, though, because it's really scenic. The train looks as though it has great views too.
Eleanor delivered, the hotel was fantastic. Despite the glitch where they didn't have a record of our booking, we eventually made our way up to a beautiful room with a balcony overlooking a pool. Joy!
Armed with umbrellas (Dean using the one provided), we explored the absolutely stunning city. It is completely different to Hue, and even through you are inundated with offers/pleas/requests to purchase the usual goods and services, it is more relaxed. Or maybe the lack of traffic provides a more peaceful setting. The rain stopped after lunch (of Hoi An's specialty cao lau) so once we'd seen enough shops, galleries and market stalls for the day, we opted for a swim before dinner.
Choosing a place to eat in tourist precincts is often fraught with difficulty. But
we have managed to enjoy most meals (or aspects of them!) and tonight's was no exception. It was very tasty but left Dean with a fishbone in his throat. About time he had a medical problem!
On our way home, we stopped by a stall selling pork rolls and bought a baguette to test the old wives tale that eating bread will help dislodge the bone. No luck. Dr Google wasn't much help, but it was somehow reassuring. It didn't stop Dean from snoring, though.
After the usual buffet of happiness at breakfast (mainly Hoi An meets France, after stopping in England for a weekend), Dean and Eleanor hopped aboard a boat for an hour, while I meandered around town. We had hired bikes for the day ($1 each - just like the Intrepid Guide to South East Asia 1994 said!), so we explored a little bit more of the town and island opposite before stopping to eat inside the wet market building. We had noticed most Westerners had scuttled through it yesterday, but a delicious lunch for just $1 was on offer at many of the stalls. We found three empty spaces and promptly sat down.
A trip down the river
Dean tried his hand at fishing, but didn't catch anything.
No English, no menu but we could point at the bowls in front of us filled with all sorts of meat and vegetable matter. It was certainly one of the more interesting meals we have eaten, and most of it was very tasty.
The afternoon was spent lazing by the pool and enjoying a little respite from the heat. On our way to dinner, we noticed high tide had brought the river level with the road. On the way back, the water was over the road. We had read about the flooding which occurs here regularly every October/November and I hoped it wasn't going to happen now.
At 8:30, we set off on a cycling tour. It was cloudy but the rains were a comin'. Our leader was tete de la course and Team Andrew formed the peloton. An assistant was lanterne rouge. Riding slowly around the old town, the Prologue was at times smooth and calm, then we were amongst the hustle and bustle of traffic and market activity, where we stepped up the pace a little. Dodging ladies crying out "Madame!", swerving wildly around motorcycles pulling out in front with the obligatory TOOT! and wobbling
A little rain won't hurt us
Cycling around in plastic raincoats, having a ball.
inbetween pedestrians, we pulled up in front of the 'ferry' which would take us to the biggest island for a Le Tour de Countryside. Pascal, expatrie Francais and a wonderful tour leader, explained that locals use this boat to commute between the islands. 2000 Dong for locals, 5000 Dong for us and 10000 Dong for foreigners not on a tour.
Disembarking with the commuters, the rain began. Luckily it was only a couple of hundred metres to the boat building demonstration. Handed plastic raincoats and looking very glamorous in them, I must say, they ensured we remained relatively dry for the remainder of the day. It was absolutely pouring for most of the tour but it wasn't cold, so it didn't really matter that much. We visited an ice factory (literally someone making ice in their front yard and cutting it up with a circular saw) and other local industries (weaving, shrimp farms, rice paddies, boat builders and artists) before a delicious lunch at Pascal's in-law's house. To get to the house you had to cycle over a rickety old wooden floating bridge for about 100metres. With motorcyclists and schoolkids going home for lunch coming the other way. Felt
slightly under the pump.
Anyway, we had a brilliant day, seeing another part of Vietnam, and having loads of fun too. The boat ride back to Hoi An was quite refreshing as the rain had stopped for a while and the breeze felt lovely. Saying our goodbyes, we picked up our hire bikes and cycled off into the sunset.
Unfortunately we had to wake early to catch a ride to the airport at 6am, so Eleanor and I had an early night after another tasty dinner in a restaurant over the bridge. Dean headed off to a bar to watch Australia defeat England in the rugby. I think Hoi An is definitely a place I would like to return to some day for some more exploration. The weather had limited our adventures this time but knowing there is heaps more to see means that I am sure we will return some day.
Tot: 2.5s; Tpl: 0.07s; cc: 9; qc: 55; dbt: 0.0417s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb