The group and I arrived in Hoi An on the morning of Saturday, 19th April. The night before we departed Nha Trang on the overnight train. Sadly the train wasn’t as nice as the previously one – the carriages had already been used, so there was rubbish and used bedding. And the worst thing – cockroaches! I killed three cockroaches on Lisa’s bed and after that I told her to sleep with her thong (shoe) and fend for herself – they just kept coming! Poor Lisa is from the UK so didn’t sleep a wink most of the night – she was extremely scared.
On a side note, silly me totally forgot that English and Europeans call their thongs “flip flops”. Therefore when I told this story to the girls in the next carriage they were highly impressed, if not slightly confused that I had killed cockroaches with my “g-string”!!!
Hoi An was extremely hot – I don’t think I have ever been so hot in my life, definitely hotter then Cambodia – it was 40`C and 100% humidity. I ended up with sunburn on sunburn and drank about 4 litres of water and was still drenched in sweat. We arrived too early to check into the hotel, so again hot, sweaty and tired I headed out to look around. That’s the only bad thing about the overnight train. I enjoy sleeping on the train, its comfortable and you don’t lose a day travelling but the arrival time doesn’t exactly suit me – I always feel tired and I always want a shower once getting off the train.
Hoi An is just a charmer, it has a lovely riverfront but also quaint streets and alleys. The buildings are incredibly old and rustic and the paint is peeling and the shutters are twisted but it just adds to its beautiful character. I think I would rate Hoi An as up there as one of my favourite cities.
It is a UNESCO declared city and more then 800 buildings have been preserved so walking into many of buildings means they look like they did several centuries ago.
Hoi An is filled with approximately 300 tailors and tailor shops – its known for producing top quality clothing and suits at cheap prices and within short timeframes. We were recommend a tailor by Ratha, our CEO, so myself, Kirsty and Sophie headed there to get measured up. What a great way to shop – flicking through brochures and looking at the models to pick a style, then browsing the massive choice of materials for a colour and then being personally measured to ensure the clothing suits perfectly! I ended up getting four dresses made for $35 each! I went back to the store at about 6pm that night for my first fitting and then returned the next afternoon to collect the dresses! I was really impressed with them, really good quality and they fit.
I spend the rest of the day wandering the streets and tiny alley ways. There are some incredibly funky stores with excellent quality handicrafts. I went a bit crazy and purchased some art work from a local artist and a beautiful tea pot and matching cups from a shop that assists disabled locals in gaining work. Most of the jewellery is hand made and I purchased a bracelet from another store. Once I get to Hanoi I will post everything home for safe keeping.
On Sunday I went on a tour of My Son with Austrian couple Stefan and Natalie. My Son (pronounced Mee Sun) is about an hour from Hoi An and it is religious temples from around the 4th century. My Son was rediscovered by the French in the late 19th century. Like Hoi An, My Son is a UNESCO world heritage site.
During the Vietnam War the US forces bombed a fair amount of the temples as Viet Congs were living here. The temples didn’t survive well but many are still in tact and you can see the imprint of the bombs landing in the earth.
After the tour of My Son, we journeyed down the Thu Bon River by boat and docked at a small village to see their handicrafts and daily life. Apart from another very hot day, it was a great experience.