We awoke from the 14 hour sleeper bus to a yell of “Hoi An!”. Startled we gathered our belongings and did a location check on our phones, we have been dropped off in the wrong place before and it is not an experience we want to repeat, all seemed good so off the bus we jumped. We were swarmed immediately by taxi drivers trying to get our custom but as we had decided that as a way to get fit we would make ourselves walk anything up to the 5km mark, the calls fell on deaf ears. We started walking; it was 6am and it was hot! The cool air of the mountains had been lovely but it had not prepared us for the heat of Hoi An.
A little while later and drenched in sweat we arrived at our hotel which fortunately already had our room ready. After a short nap and much needed showers we went in search of breakfast on this occasion we opted for western food, not something we do much but the menu was too good to walk past and we had had a bit of a rough night.
The main problem with sleeper buses is that they leave you so tired the next day you find yourself walking around your new destination in a haze. We decided to take it easy so went for a stroll around the cultural centre, it is an interesting place all of the buildings painted in yellow limestone paint, lots of shops selling their craft wears and more tailors than you can imagine. As new suits were on Andy’s shopping list we started visiting a few of the better reviewed tailors to get a feel for it all. Quickly enough we settled on Yarly Tailors, a bit more expensive than some of the others but still reasonable compared to back home and a nice level of service. Once we had decided on the fabric, designs, to waistcoat or not to waistcoat and most importantly the lining of the suits, Andy got measured up and we were told to come back the next day for the fitting.
There isn’t a huge amount to do in Hoi An but there is a lot to see. Our hotel offered free bicycle rental so the next day we awoke early and took a trip to see the beach and cycle around the paddy fields that surround the town, we had a lovely morning taking in the sights, getting lost and found.
After a few Bahn Mi (2 for Andy 1 for me) from the famous Bahn Mi shop, claimed to be the best Banh Mi in the world according to chef Anthony Bourdain, it was time for Andy’s fitting. The suits were pretty much complete and looked impressive, they were a little bit tight in places so we were told to go away and come back in a few hours it was getting closer to perfect but still a bit too snug, after a few iterations, each requiring us to nip to the pub in between they were pretty much there, we left them to finish up for the evening and we went to explore some of the cultural sites, first up was the Chinese temple, it was interesting enough as it acted a as community centre for the Chinese decedents in Vietnam.
We also visited a museum and and old house, the museum was interesting as we were the only visitors and the lady gave us lots and lots of information as we walked around.
The house was small and interesting but a lot of it we had seen before. We also took a trip to the Japanese bridge which although looks pretty sits over a river that is quiet smelly, it is also rammed with tourists who get bussed in from the beach resorts near by.
During our stay we managed to try all of the main local dishes which Hoi An is famous for;
- com ga, it is a bit of a boring dish as it is effectively just chicken, rice and a sauce;
- cou lac was a really nice noodle and pork dish which is all about the sauce;
- grilled pork cooked with lemongrass as the skewer and served with salad and rice paper you make your own sort of spring roll and dip it is a fantastic peanut sauce and;
- finally quang noodles, from what we could tell its a little bit of everything in a noodle soup with a quails egg, very tasty.
We managed to find a great locals restaurant which did our favourite versions of each of the dishes, one night Andy felt so at home there he left his bag! It was only later in the bar that he remembered after a few attempts at waking up the people living in the restaurant we managed to get the bag back – phew!
On our final night in Hoi An we went for a boat ride up and down the river through town and lit Chinese lanterns and sent them down stream, Andy’s lantern fell over and went out but our driver managed to catch it and he went again.
The next morning we would jump on bikes and take on the Hai Van Pass!