Monthly Archives: January 2018

Hoi An

It was lovely to have a day that wasn’t so scripted, to be able to chill a little and do my own thing. My lurgy was still raging but I decided that although I should probably rest up while I could there was also a town out there that needed exploring and you never know if/when you are going to visit again. I had my breakfast and headed out to do a spot of exploring at my own pace.

As I headed from the hotel on the walk into town I was stopped by a girl getting off the back of a scooter who walked with me as I ambled along the road towards the town. We chatted and of course she was wanting me to visit her shop as she was a dressmaker. Well that was job no 1 sorted – to find a dress maker and have some clothes made, because I could. As I’m still trying my hardest to loose some weight it was pointless in trying to get anything too jazzy or expensive and so some basics were on my agenda. Having been measured up to the nines on the top half, I chose a couple of tops including a traditional style top instead of a dress which had beautiful lanterns all over it – apt for the town I was in, it was a no brainier! As I was wrapping up my choices and paying I saw someone else having a try on of a dress that I thought might be quite useful too so I asked for that as well. From here I also went on to have some sandals made two the same and in different colours. An extravagance but I’m looking forward to saying that I had them made in Vietnam!!

From here I went to see the market as we were told it was better to go in the morning as there weren’t many trading in the afternoon. The heavens opened and I was glad to have managed to have got the pac-a-mac just in time else I’d have been drenched through. It was wonderful seeing all the fruits, veg and meat all laid out as well as the fish and other bits and pieces. I’m not sure that food hygiene is a massive thing out here, it all I could think of as well as how fresh everything looked.

Having had a further amble and understanding of actually quite how small the town is and how it was going to be easy to see the old part of it at total ease in a day. I headed back to the hotel to have my massage and pedicure that I had booked. It’s always pretty hard having a massage when you are totally blocked up but to the amusement of the masseuse I shoved a tissue up each nostril and put some more tissues by my shoulder and lay down ready for my full body massage. It was wonderful, really good to get some knots and tension out even if it felt slightly odd having the lady almost sitting on top of me while she did it.

I had a shower once is finished to get all the oil off and wash my hair and sorted myself out for the remainder of the day out and about seeing the sights of the town. Dosed up on yet more meds that were frankly doing absolutely nothing to ease the symptoms as far as I could tell.

I headed back out to have my afternoon amble and see some more of this quaint little place. I visited the Old Chinese Assembly Hall that Hung had recommended which was beautiful but TOTAL Death by Incense which properly got to the back of my throat. It was nice to be able to do things at my own pace I must say.

There is quite a Chinese influence in a number of the buildings as there as when the Chinese settled here they identified them selves according to their province back home and as a result each community built their own assembly halls which all remain today. There is also the Japanese covered bridge, first constructed in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them to the Chinese quarters. It was flattened out for cars to use by the French but it has thankfully since been restored to its arched shape. There are alters or rather fairly weathered statues of dogs one end and monkies the other, thought to be because it was built in the year f one and finished in the other or because many of the Emperors of Japan were born in these years.

Because of the location Hoi An is totally vulnerable to flooding and the lady who encouraged me to go to her dressmakers was telling me and showing me how high it can come up and how quickly they have to move to stop all their stock from being ruined. It was fascinating and thankfully not something that we experienced while we were there. Here are some general photos of the town, hopefully it will give you an idea of how stunning it was & kind of why I fell in love with it.

On my amblings I ran into two of the group – Paul & Chris who had spent most of their day sitting and people watching in the same bar by the river in the sunshine. They were rather pink! I joined them for a few more beers and people watching tasting massive bits of ginger from street sellers and generally giggling lots before they went off for massages and a rest before coming out later to collect their jackets that they were having made that day as well.

I went to collect my clothes too and was really pleased with them & the shoes I’d had made too – I did ask for a couple of amends to the clothes, a chinese style traditional top needed letting out a little and the basic dress I had, I wanted the sleeves slightly shorter so they were delivered back to the hotel for me to pick up when I got back after supper.

Danang

Well New Year was a total wipe out for all of us apparently as not ONE of the group was there to se wit in with Hung who was apparently enjoying the free flowing wine until the early hours, well ok maybe until just after midnight!

Today was as a part travelling day as we headed further south to our next overnight destination of Hoi An – the town I’d heard most about from other travellers to Vietnam that apparently was a must see and do not miss place and I’d love it. Remembering the bumpy roads from Cambodia in the bus, I used my neck support from the plane to help ease the jolty movements and so cause my neck any unnecessary extra pain. I felt proud of my self as I really do think that it was a tremendous help. We took the Hai Van Pass which is a beautiful winding mountain road where you pass a great number of sights. Thankfully I was on the right hand side of the bus so I was unable to see the utter nut jobs on their bikes overtaking the bus on sharp bends. There were a number of shrines at the side of the road that I had full view of which I can only assume were for those killed in accidents on the roads. When we weren’t climbing the pass in the bus we passed the typical scenes that I was expecting to see and hoping to capture on camera (but have failed it appears) of workers or should I be calling them farmers out in the paddy fields.

It was on this road the Hai Van Pass that THE Vietnam episode was filmed for Top Gear, the one that I have never seen, yet have still put a link to, despite never having seen it 🙂 The pass was the boundary between Vietnam and the kingdom of Champa back in the 15th Century and until the war in the 60s was heavily forested. There is a fort at the top which we stopped at which is full of French bullet holes and was also used as a bunker later but the Americans and South Vietnamese. It was clearly also THE place to have your wedding photograph taken, as everywhere in Vietnam seemed to be!

If we weren’t in a bus we could have shaved an hour off our journey by using the Hai Van Tunnel but lorries, tourist buses, motorbikes and bicycles are banned from taking that route, mainly in case they get stuck apparently?

We headed to Thuy Son which is the largest and most famous of the Marble Mountains which houses a number of Buddhist sanctuaries, that were originally Hindu and pagodas which also gave some wonderful views of the sea. They were very picturesque and it was lovely to see some sights finally in some warm sunshine after a quick 10 mins on the beach in Danang to paddle in the frankly FREEZING waters of the South China Sea! Definitely not tempted to strip off and have a dip, that was for sure!

From here we headed on to Hoi An. Having checked into our hotel which was walking distance from the main town and, even better, had a massage & pedicure option which I was sure to be partaking in the following day! Hung took us on an orientation walk after a little time to ‘freshen up’ in our rooms. My word, having heard so much of the town I was certainly not disappointed. The atmosphere and lack of traffic was enough alone to make me want to stay here for longer than the 36 hours or so that we had. Sadly the photos of the evening walk did not come out well enough t really demonstrate  the utter beauty of this place, Ill try adding a few though to try and give you an idea.

We had a delicious dinner in a restaurant called Banana Leaf where I sampled one of the traditional dishes of the area called Cao Lau which was delicious. In fact everyone had a delicious meal that evening and went to bed stuffed and ready to explore on our own the following day as we had a day at leisure, a day I was really looking forward to to potter and do my own thing.

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