Riverside French Colonial Town in the Rain

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
overnight bus

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 1 - Arrival, Old Town
Grey cloads and rain all day on the bus so not much of a view of the mountains or coastline along the way. Arrived in town after dark and managed to get a motobike for a price I was willing to pay. Found this to be an interesting experience since I was carrying my big pack on my back while on the back of the bike. Only a short ride to the hotel from the bus station. Checked in dumped my bags and since it was still early and the weather was nice, went for a wander round the streets of the old town.

Didnt really have much of a map so didnt want to wander round randomly after dark so headed towards the river. This lead me past a number of tailor and many shoe shops. Seems that Hoi An is the place to have cheap tailor made clothes in Vietnam. Heard from someone later that they had had a silk dress made up for $35.

Probably would have been a good idea to get a suit but then I would need to carry it around before posting it home. Given I start to needed to watch my budget it was probably not a good idea not to.

After a few streets from the hotel started to find the buildings on the streets had a more colonial feel to them. Made it to the river where I followed along the shore past lots of restuarants. Ended up stopping at one of the stalls by the river which sold the local noodle dish. Found the pork in it to me nice (like marinated pork I get in vietnamese rolls at home) but the soup to be ordinary. At $1 though not bad though.

Had some nice views of the river all lit up with lantarns on both sides of it. Also lots of people around. These being mainly local and foreign tourists plus the people selling stuff which seemed to include floating lights to be let afloat the river. 

 Ended up making it as far as the Japanese bridge before turning round. Rathe than head back the way I had come ended up deciding to wander a ways down along the river in the other direction. Again lots of shops and restuarants along the way. Also a market which was basically closing for the night.

Ended up taking the long way back to the hotel without getting lost and managed to almost get inside before it started to pour down. Given the change in weather that was it for the day.

Day 2 - Old Town, Temple
Had planned to head out early and possibly get a bike so that I could head the 4km down to the coastline but found that it was just continuously pouring down until lunch. After that it still rained throughout the day but became a bit more patchy and lighter. Didnt really feeling like getting wet on a bike so decided to get an umbrella and just wander the old town.

Decided against getting a ticket since it was late in the day and just walked the streets and checked out the outsides of the old buildings and temples that needed a ticket to enter. besides, managed to find a few places that were free to enter. Found lots of interesting french colonial buildings and a few chinese temples but also lots of tourist all round the place. Definately not a normal vietnam city area.

Ended up wandering around tge streets in the direction of the markets which sold both local produce and tourist produce. Bought some fruit and local food here before continuing further down the river and towards the rivers edge. Seems with all the rain the river is in flood a little bit since parts of the path by the riverside were under water. While here got approached a number of times about taking a boat ride.

Turned around at this point and made my way back along the river edge this time. Managed to get some views of locals fishing and just transporting people across the river. Also lots of boats that looked like tourist boats theough I am sure they were once probably fishing boats.

Staying by the riverside I passed by the Japanese bridge where a guy was using a net to fish the river and headed towards the temple mark on the map I had been able to pick up. Nice enough temple with the mosaic statues and reliefs as well as a small pond where some locals were fishing. Unfortunatley the temple itself was closed so could only wander around the grounds.

Headed back towards the old city and the Japanese covered bridge which had a temple in the middle as well as monkeys at one end and dogs at the other. Seems that the statues signify the years in which the bridges construction started and ended.

From wandered the streets a bit more before finding a restuarant to eat at. Didnt really do much more than hang out in my room the rest of the since the rain started to come back in again.

Day 3 - Not Much
Had originally booked a tour to Son La but the bus never showed. When I went to the tour operator was told that with all the rain the place was flooded and that visiting it was not possible. While I got my money back it did mean that I did really have anything I wanted to do.

Most interesting thing though that I found while waiting for the bus was that I was being overcharged for the room. Seems that a single room should go for $8-$10 and I was paying $14. Seems that the price you find on hostel bookers is marked up a bit from the price you can get at the door even though I have found in the past that it is usually the other way round when there is any difference. Was a bit surprised by this since 3 hotels all in the same area had all marked up their online prices in a similar way. Maybe the online price is their peak season price and the fact that business is slow means they had reduced these prices based on the season.

Really unfortunate I had had to catch the later bus from Hanoi sine if I hadnt originally been rocking up into town after dark I would never have booked it online. Only tend to book online if I expect that the place may be booked out (from looking at the booking online booking availability) and there arent a lot of cheap nearby alternatives available.

In the end decided to change hotels to one that was a couple of doors by and paid $8 a night for a smaller but very similar room to the one I had had the previous two nights. After changing hotels I pretty much decided to have another quite day since it was raining fairly constantly throughout the day. Only really headed out to eat and book my bus ticket back to Hanoi for the following day.

Day 4 - Tranist to Hanoi
Bus to Hanoi wasnt leaving til after lunch and since it was once more raining decided to have a lazy morning before heading out for breakfast at a nearby restuarant. Pretty much did nothing all morning before getting on the bus.

Unlike the trip into town the clouds werent quite as heavy this time round and was abke to see some of the mountains nearby. If the weather was better it seems that heading out to the marble mountains would of made for a decent day trip. Unfortunately, as expected this time of year, the weather was wet and crappy. In the end didnt really get to do any of the trips I had originally planned for Hoi An.

Had a seated bus to Hoi an and basically watched some videos to help pass the time. Ended up rocking up in Hue around 5pm where I found a nice vietnamese sandwich vendor and grabbed 3 rolls for dinner before getting on the sleeper bus headed for Hanoi.

This time round was taking the sinh cafe open bus and while the bus was very similar I did find it slightly more comfortable than the sleeper bus I had taken from Hanoi to Hue.

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