Stepping back in time… to a graceful, elegant, curious blend of Vietnamese and foreign cultures and architecture…
The 2nd destination on our Vietnam backpacking trip… Hoi An. Hoi An is located roughly on central coast of Vietnam and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Old Town Hoi An, the heritage site, is a well preserved South East Asian trading port that dates back to the 15-19th Century. The city is well known for its textiles and crafts (one of the best places in Vietnam to get anything tailor made!).
We left Saigon around noon, after the most terrifying cab ride in the OLDEST car I’ve ever ridden in (thanks for nothing hostel :S) to the airport to fly to Da Nang (the closest airport to Hoi Ain, about a 20-30min cab ride away) because with only 2 weeks to see the country, we weren’t about to waste time on a bus. Although local Vietnamese flights weren’t the timeliest either, and as we boarded the plane, I spotted our backpacks just hanging out underneath the fuselage of the plane… was really hoping they were planning on actually stowing them somewhere inside the bowels of the plane! (They did. We got the bags when we landed 🙂 )
As we arrived later in the day, by the time we checked into the Sunflower Hotel, an excellent hostel in Hoi An, we would get dusky/night views of the Old Town to start. Tourists are required to buy a pass to enter the town for 120,000 dong (peanuts in USD).
We walked from our hostel to the Old Town (about a 15-20min walk… an easy leg stretcher… plus plenty of shops to poke into along the way).
The Old Town at dusk is moody and reminds me briefly of a Victorian horror movie or something like that… but once fully dark, as the lights come on, it’s colorful and brilliant and vibrantly cheerful.
We visited the Morning Glory restaurant for dinner where I wisely ordered a 5spice pork belly that was DELICIOUS. My friend not so wisely chose a crispy red snapper… which happened to be the full fish… dipped in batter… and deep fried. We westerners are definitely not so familiar getting food with eyes in it still! She didn’t even know how to get at the meat and was vaguely repulsed by it :S I think it was tasty though once she had the waitress dissect it. (as a note… safe food here… pretty touristy though… if you’re someone who likes to eat with the locals).
The street view from the balcony of the Morning Glory was pretty though. I LOVED all the lanterns and lights strung across the streets everywhere!
We finished the evening with a walk around town, across the river with this super cool fish on it, to the Night market where we admired all the gorgeous colorful and printed Vietnamese lanterns.
And of course, the trademark site of the Old Town, the covered bridge was beautiful when lit up at night!
A much quieter town than Saigon for sure. I really loved the vibes here! Tomorrow we explore the town more… and the surrounding countryside!