On the 24th, we took the bus from Hue to Hoi An and stopped at China Beach on the way. We checked in at the Greenfield Hotel and Gerald was already there. He took a flight from Bangkok to Hanoi the night before and one from Hanoi to Danang that morning so that we could spend Christmas together.
We stayed in Hoi An 5 days, until the 29th. We wanted to find a place where we could enjoy and relax for a few days without moving every second day. We needed a Christmas Holiday :-), and Hoi An was a great place for that.
Hoi An is an old town which used to be a very busy commercial port in its time (from the 17th to the 19th century). It is very charming, with old architecture and the waterfront. It is also know for its tailors and we took advantage of that :-).
On the 24th, we walked around town and took in the sites. It was really funny, there were little kids dressed up in Santa outfits! They had free drinks by the pool at our hotel and some traditional music and dancing. Emma from New Zealand (we met her during our tour in Hue – remember ?), was staying at the same hotel with her boyfriend Carl. We enjoyed the show together and then planned to meet up with them later for drinks. For Christmas eve meal, Ger, Rog, and I went to a very nice Vietnamese restaurant called “Le Cafe des Amis”. It is a set menu: you just choose between meat, seafood and vegetarian and they keep bringing you dishes. It was awesome. We then went for drink at the Tam Tam Cafe and met up with Emma and Carl and a few other people from our hotel: Claire and Susan from Ireland, and Sally from Australia. We had many great cocktails, chatted, and then danced (or more so created our own dance floor). That night a few of the girls thought we should all take a cooking class the next day, so we signed up.
The cooking course started with a visit to the market with Chef Thi to buy our ingredients for the supper we would make later on. Not everyone made it there, but for those who did, we really loved it, it was a lot of fun. Chef Thi is a very nice guy and a great cook. So, for Christmas supper, we all met up at Tam Tam Cafe at 5:30 and started learning how to make great Vietnamese food. We made spring rolls, crispy fried shrimps, fish soup, and fish cooked in banana leaves. It was all wonderful and we had so much fun!
On the 26th, we decided it was time to start shopping. The Italian couple we met in Halong Bay, Sissi and Matteo, had recommended a tailor so we went and checked it out with Emma and Carl. The ladies were very nice and the quality seemed really good, so we decided to all get a bunch of clothes tailor made. We ended up being in the store for over 4 hours. Between deciding on what to get made, in what style, with which fabric… Then there is the measurement, and most importantly the bargaining, which is Roger’s knack. He spent a very long time going over the price of every piece. It was very funny and entertaining as both parties where quite theatrical and dramatic :-). We were pretty exhausted after that so we went for some 3000 dong (20 cents) beer and spring rolls.
Yes we forgot to talk about the money, we are multimillionaire here, that’s great :-). One canadian dollar give you about 14 000 Vietnamese dong. So we have bills of 500 000, 200 000 etc. It can be confusing at times, but you sure feel rich!
The next few days were pretty much as follows, hang out in the town, go shopping, go for fittings, go for supper with Ger, Emma, and Carl, and then meet everyone and also other new people at the Tam Tam Cafe. Go home while Ger stays to play pool until the wee hours of the morning. We also went to the beach one which was very nice.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot, on the 28th, we got up at 5:00 am to go visit the ruins at My Son which used to be a Cham Empire. You can rent a driver to bring you there early before all the tourist arrive. Emma, Carl, Ger, Rog, and I all went. Seeing that not of us are morning people, the ride there and back was pretty quiet… However, the ride in itself was very interesting. Early in the morning, we saw all the school kids in their uniforms riding their bikes to school. It was really worth visiting early in the morning as it was very quiet and we had the opportunity to visit the ruins in peace. We enjoyed our visit to My Son.
Now back to the clothes, we really went to town… suits, shirts, dresses, etc. We had a lot of fun going for fittings and rebargaining as we ordered more clothes.
By the way, since we have been getting complains about the lack of posts :-), the internet connection was already very poor in Hoi An, and then we had no connection on the 26th and the barely on the 27th because of the earthquake in Taiwan which damaged the internet cables. Plus we ARE on holidays you know ;-).
Anyways, we had a wonderful time in Hoi An. We loved wandering in the market and through the streets, bargaining and getting clothes made just for us, and hanging out with Ger and everyone else. It really was a nice city that gave us an opportunity to stay in the same place for 5 days while still doing many things and meeting many nice people.