Exploring Hoian

Wow Dad,

What a place! For what Da Nang was lacking in character, Hoian makes up for it ten fold! I can not believe this place is only half an hour down the road. 

Anyways, the ‘transfer’ the hotel said they could organise was actually a taxi. Fortunately they accepted dollars or I would have been out of cash! 

My hotel is right on the water front in the old town. It could not be a more perfect location for this place. The road is also closed to cars, it is pedestrian and cycles only, which makes it very easy to walk around. 

I got to the hotel pretty early, but they let me check straight into a room. With a quick look of a map I started exploring. Hoian’s ancient town is just fascinating, the buildings, the narrow streets, the colours, it is amazing. I spent hours just walking around, every little road and corner unearthed a new gem. 

Walking around I came across what can only be described as a shoppers paradise. A massive tailoring shop, which would make you anything clothing based you wanted, in what ever fabric you wanted, in one day! It was insane to see all these hundreds of rows of fabric for every eventuality, from scarfs to suits and everything in between. Silly money too, even I could afford to have something custom made. Honestly dad I was very tempted. A dress for an upcoming wedding would have been perfect. If only I didn’t have to carry it for the next few months and stuff it in my case. Oh well.

I wandered all afternoon, until my feet hurt and I had cooked myself in the heat. So I decided to head for the hotel pool. The pool is squished into the courtyard, and does not get any sun. To be honest though, no sun was probably a good thing. A freezing cold swim and a sun lounger was an ideal way to spend an hour or two. 

I headed back out when it had cooled down slightly. The hotel is sort of on an island with two bridges linking it to the rest of the town. As I had been over one bridge a fair few times I decided to take the scenic route and head to the other bridge. After walking all the way round to the bridge and over it, I was greeted my a woman in a shirt and tie asking to see my ticket. What ticket? She explained to go into the town I needed to buy a ticket. I told her my hotel was in the town and I would like to get to it. She wanted proof so I showed her my hotel room key. The woman then ushered me back over the bridge. I was not impressed so I asked her how much a ticket was. It was about £6!! £6 to go somewhere I had spent all morning. No thanks! So I had to walk back over the bridge, along the river and over the bridge by the hotel. Bearing in mind there were no barriers, no turnstiles, she could easily have just let me through. But no. Needless to say I was not impressed. I basically went in a big square to get to the same point! Stupid. 

Anyway more wandering around led to a few discoveries, like a bottomless cocktail bar and self serve ice cream. I knew I already liked this place, but that sort of topped it. I also came across another huge market, where of course I was hounded and yelled at to come and see. I left the market pretty sharpish.
I was also asked constantly if I wanted to take a traditional cooking class. Now I don’t really cook much at home, and I have kind of been wary of vietnamese food since I was poisoned by nuns, so I turned down the cooking class at every opportunity. 

As it started getting dark, the street started lighting up in colourful lanterns. It is the lantern festival tomorrow, but the festival has sort of become a three day event, with this evening as a warm up day. Well I have no idea where all of these people came from, but the place was packed. Walking through the street I did wonder how many of them had tickets to get in…. stupid woman with her stupid tickets. 

Along the river bank, all of these small pop up stalls had opened. One was to learn how to do origami with coconut leaves. It cost £1 to try and make something. Game on. I say on this little bamboo mat with an old woman who spoke no English. I followed her step by step. Every so often she would take my leaves away from me and fix it. I was not impressed by this. It is mine, I will do it myself. Well she did it wrong! I could see her mistake instantly, I saw the error as she did it, so me being me I pointed it out to her. She shook her head as if to say ‘shut up it is fine’ and moved on to the next step. I could see what was going to happen, but being a good student I followed her. Well Shockingly enough, mine fell apart. So we had to start again. I think the old woman was loosing her patience by then. But anyway eventually we go to the end. I managed to make an origami coconut leaf fish! I wish I could say I did it all by myself, but that option was literally taken away from me. I don’t think my fish will survive the journey home, but hopefully I can remember how to make them and I can show the kids when I get back. 

After a day of walking I am shattered. The hotel may be in the perfect location, but there is one slight drawback I overlooked, the noise. The party is still going on outside, with no signs of slowing down. Think I will be sleeping with head phones in tonight! 

Hoian is definitely my favourite place in Vietnam so far! With the exception of the party outside the hotel room window I think you would have liked it too. 

Now to prepare for another action packed day tomorrow

Night dad x


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