Hoi An

15/05/18

I forgot to cancel my subscription to Audible before my free trial ended, so I accidentally payed a month’s subscription (before hastily cancelling). Not wanting to waste the credit I’d unknowingly purchased, I used it to but the book “Everything I Never Told You”, by Celeste Ng. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise the narration was in American, which I also didn’t realise I had a problem with until half an hour in when I’d been able to concentrate on nothing but the accent. I tried to restart the book twice on the bus to Hoi An, but the second time I fell asleep, so I gave up.

We drove through Danang on the way here, which I believe we’ll be popping back up to after Hoi An to get the train further South (Hoi An doesn’t have a train station). Danang is extremely busy, and very westernised, with huge skyscrapers and luxury beachfront resorts. It was quite surprising to see.

16/05/18

Hoi An is glorious. A beautiful little riverside town, full of lanterns and islands with pretty bridges anchoring them to the mainland. It looks like it should be in a Disney film. We’re staying at Thu Bon Riverside Homestay, on Cam Nam Island; the family who live here are so lovely and kind and helpful.

17/05/18

Today is our first beach day. The first of many. I wonder how many more days we’ll spend lazing on the beach over the next 3 months. We’ve just had lunch at an Italian Restaurant, Luna d’Autunno, on the beach front; it cost our entire daily budget but we have no regrets. We were even served by an Italian (or potentially French, je ne sais pas), and given proper parmesan and olive oil. What a time to be alive.

Over lunch, we discussed that we’re starting to take this whole thing for granted; having the complete freedom to decide how and where we spend our time no longer feels like a luxury, but the norm. Of course, I’m still appreciating every day that we spend out here, but I hereby vow to be grateful of how privileged we really are to be able to even do this. Sorry that was pretty deep, but we were feeling emotional after the taste of home.

18/05/18

I got Elliot back on a bike! Our hotel is about 1km away from the old town, along a nice quiet road, and the hotel offers free bicycle usage, so it was the perfect opportunity. He was a little wobbly to start with but we’ve been cycling every day, and today he actually said he was having fun! He does have two huge blisters on his hands from gripping the handlebars so tightly, but surprisingly me telling him to be less tense doesn’t actually help him to be less tense. In theory, we are going to cycle the 7km to the beach tomorrow instead of getting a taxi.

We spent today visiting some of the historical sites of the old town; a couple of temples, an assembly room and a couple of super old traditional houses. I also bought some more funky trousers (I bought some culottes on the first day here). I wish I’d packed half the amount of clothes; I’ve had to discard of two white t-shirts which were sadly no longer white, but my bag is still annoyingly full and I keep buying things (maybe the latter is the problem). We then went for dinner at a lovely restaurant just outside of Hoi An, where I had soya sauce and sesame fried aubergine with rice.

19/05/18

We made it to the beach! And we even accidentally asked Google Maps for a walking route rather than a driving route so it took us through some lovely back streets in Hoi An and out onto farm tracks surrounded by rice paddies, rather than all the way on the main road! Glorious. We went back to the Italian Restaurant that we fell in love with on Thursday; I ordered a salad, which was probably a little risqué given my apparent susceptibility to food poisoning, but it was worth it for the taste of parma ham and parmesan. During lunch, Elliot even declared that he was excited for the cycle home. I’m genuinely proud of him, he’s doing very well with cycling (I told him I’d try not to make that sound patronising). We took it in turns to have beach naps in the afternoon, and then peddled on home when the sun had dropped and it was a little cooler. We went back through the rice paddies again, where families were now gathered flying kites from the path. I saw a tiny snake on the way home as well, but I didn’t stop to take a closer look. In the evening, we cycled to a lovely restaurant just outside of the town, where I had a red snapper fish baked in a banana leaf, which was absolutely divine. Very fresh.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Hoi An. It’s such a lovely town, I’m really sad to be leaving.

21/05/18

We leave Hoi An this evening. I’m sad, but happy to have been able to spend so long here. It’s a lot less backpackery than other places we’ve been to; there are a lot more people just here on holiday, and I can see why.

Yesterday we had a chilled day wandering the town. We found a lovely spa and beauty salon, where I had a pedicure and Elliot had a back massage. I’m feeling more human now I have nail varnish on my toes again. We’re all packed up, about to check out of our lovely homestay. I’m pretty nervous about the night bus tonight; we’ve not had to get one yet as we’ve so far chosen the luxury of night trains instead, but when the train is 4 times the price of the bus, it’s not really justifiable. This also means we don’t get to see any more of Danang, but hey ho.

I’ve absolutely loved Hoi An. It’s a really beautiful town with a mixture of styles and cultures; many of the streets are lines with colourful French buildings, much like Luang Prabang, in Laos. Then there’s wooden Chinese temples, the Japanese Bridge and many traditional Vietnamese buildings as well. And of course, many of these streets are lined with Hoi An’s famous tailoring companies and clothing designers; ready and raring to transform tourists’ ideas into reality. From casual clothes, wedding dresses, leather shoes and bags, silk scarves and woollen coats, absolutely anything can be designed and made here. A delightful little town that I can definitely see myself coming back to at some point.

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