We had left Danang and were driving to Hoi An, a lovely town of about three streets. Hoi An translates as “peaceful meeting place.” And indeed it is such a peaceful place.
Our hotel, Life Resort, was on the Thu Bon river. Each room has an upper level (up just a few steps) and a lower sitting area with a beautiful black couch with raw silk black and orange pillows. There is a sitting area outside with views of the river, just a few hundred yards away. After a swim in the endless pool, I sat outside our room writing about today and watching the small river boats go by.
We walked the one block into town for dinner and found a small place serving the traditional Hoi An bowl of special noodles (rice noodles closer in texture to pasta) and veggies (well, for us it was veggies) called Cao Lau. Dinner for the four of us was 120,000 dung or about $1.75 a person. Yes, it is cheap here.
We continued walking and ended up in a tailor shop, Yaly Couture. Hoi An is known for its tailor shops and the three streets are full of one after another. The entire town must stay up sewing each night. I had a suit made (three piece no less) in winter white-ish as well as a raw silk fancy pant suit. They were both ready the next day.
The day is finally over and we get to go to sleep in a very comfortable bed on the other side of the world.
Hoi An’s Early Morning Market and Sunrise
Friday March 20
This morning was the high point of the trip so far. Andy and I awoke at about 5:00am and headed out, in the dark, to the local market. The place was teaming with people and fishermen and boats and lots of fresh, fresh fish. It was so packed that it was hard to move. And all local Vietnamese farmers and fishermen selling their produce/fish. We saw squid and stingray and eel and fish I couldn’t identify. We saw a sea of conical hats and motorbikes zipping through the crowd.
And then the sun rose over the river casting an orange spell over everything. It was almost magical and certainly beautiful. This is what travel is all about – seeing the people in their everyday lives, surviving as best they can, working, eating, and smiling the whole time (often with very black teeth from chewing beetle nuts – remember South Pacific?).
We meandered back for breakfast and then spent the rest of the morning exploring the Old Town of Hoi An. This part of town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port from the 15-10th centuries. The buildings and the street reflect a unique blend of the indigenous as well as foreign influences.
The most famous is the covered “Japanese Bridge” from the 16-17th centuries. ?” It is claimed that the Japanese, then living in Hoi An, built the bridge as a way to reach the Chinese quarter across the water. The entrances to the bridge are guarded by weathered statues: a pair of monkeys on one side, a pair of dogs on the other. According to one story, many of Japan’s emperors were born in the years of the dog and monkey. Another tale says that construction of the bridge started in the year of the monkey and was finished in the year of the dog.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing. Oh, and going to have another dress made, another dress for my daughter’s wedding (the one I ended up wearing).
Tonight would be our last night in Hoi An. Next it would be trains, planes and boats. Look for the Sapa and Hanoi entries for an explanation of all that.