Our exploration of Vietnam continued and we were heading to the highly regarded town of Hoi-An in the centre of the country (nearly halfway from Saigon and Hanoi). Vietnam so far had not disappointed, with Hanoi being a distinct favourite thus far. We had already experienced the sleeper train and were now on a coach, a fully air conditioned coach at that!
The trip into Hoi-An took us passed a beautiful scenic stretch of coastline, known as Ocean Pass. A few stops at some of the local beaches, including the infamous China Beach where a lot of American troops were based in the Vietnam War. The beach itself was a great pit stop to pick up some local fruit snacks and plunge into refreshing ocean. Its muchly required as is silly hot here!
The name of our hotel alludes me right now, but it was lovely, with a huge pool for those required (and reoccurring)overheating moments.
Our first priority was to get some money and head to the tailors, a few million dong should do it! I love getting millions of dong out of the cash machine; it just feels great knowing that you have millions to spend! Anyhow off the point, we immediately visited the tailors as this was what Hoi-An was renowned for. Tailor making suits and dresses for you virtually overnight at a fraction of the cost of European/American equivalent.
As this maybe the only time I will ever be a millionaire and be able to frequent a tailor, so I had to indulge. A full suit, a formal shirt, a casual shirt and an extra pair of trousers, all designed in cloth I picked and tailored to my exact measurements, was a wandering memory in itself. The whole experience cost just over £100, including shipment back to the UK. Astonishing Value… Some of the girls had full dresses made as well, and they were just incredible… Note to the wise be careful if you’re travelling as when I returned home I was no longer as thin as I once was, so the jacket was a tad tight! If you only have a few days here, make the most of this experience and go early, giving them time to create a masterpiece for you…
Hoi An, as a town is very quaint, small and wondrous. The small dusty roads are littered with independent local shops and eateries, of all kinds, craft, markets, seafood, music… it’s all there, just seems a lot more friendly and homely feel than a lot of the bigger towns. The town also has access to a river base, where traditional Vietnamese boats sail up and down, as well as the commercial fishing liners, but no gigantic ships or cruise liners ruining the ambiance… I could have sat for hours in the heat, watching the day pass me by. Although not a tranquil sleepy town, it does on occasion feel that way which really adds to the memory.
I must also mention the locals, all going about their daily life’s and routines as they have for year and years, some still following the traditional etiquette, or traditional cultural roles. If you’re lucky and visit during festival season, the streets are brightly decorated with lanterns and local ladies in their brightly coloured elegant dresses litter the street – It’s a sight to see. We found the locals to be very friendly, always happy to chat and share stories – I love places like this!
The night sky when we visited too was incredible, with limited light and smog pollution – we could see millions of stars everywhere.
The secret is already out on this beautiful town and I cannot testify to its local feel anymore, but can say that of all of the towns in Vietnam we visited this was my favourite…
Have a read of my other Vietnamese Blog here