Suits us, sir.

Trip Start Oct 03, 2011
Trip End Dec 25, 2011

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What I did
Old town, cookery course and My Son ruins

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Hello! Hello! Wheryoufrom? I am a tailor would you like to come to my shop?"

After leaving Hue via bus (flooded train lines and all) we arrived in Hoi An ready for more drier exploits. Unfortunately some parts of the town were submerged but the following day all was back as it should be. Our first full day saw us navigate the scenic narrow streets and alleyways through shops selling anything touristy from tee-shirts to scarves to hand carved ornaments through to the huge market boasting amongst other things live seafood and fresh fruit and veg (some of which was mysterious). The main trade of Hoi An however relies not on any of these wares: Hoi An is the tailor capitol of Vietnam. We have decided not to bother getting anything tailor-made after hearing of budgets going awry and numerous repeat visits for fittings. That said you could leave the plethora of tailor shops in town happily clad in designer dress copies, snug-fitting suits and shirts and even converse/nike/any-brand trainers of your own design. We happily side step the stores as we explore the other sights the place has in store.

We buy a roving ticket that lets us in any 5 of the city's tourist hot-spots. First up the Japanese bridge (of which Amy is not too impressed) which does lead to us visiting a more interesting communist propaganda shop nearby. Following this was an "old house" which turns out to be more of a shop than anything... Thankfully things picked up a little with visits to a couple of cool temples and a little Hoi An history museum. The final port of call is another old house; thankfully equipped with cultural demonstrations of music song and dance. The most startling was of the traditional Vietnamese opera showing a girl transforming back into an animal. Literally crazy like a fox. The evening sees Amy continuing her infatuation with all things lantern as we purchase more goodies to be shipped home the following day. Sea-mail to the UK takes around 3 months, by the way!

The next day we have signed up to a full afternoon's cookery course with a restaurant. We begin by being lead by our (funny, if mental) guide to the market as we sample a few of the local delicacies that the restaurant employs. We then take a boat up the river to the sister restaurant where we will do our cooking. We get a short tour of the herb garden before settling down to the main event. The young chef has good English and we soon discover an even better sense of humour which keeps us chuckling throughout each course. We try our hand at making rice paper from which we make delicious prawn-spring rolls. One round sees us attempt to make a cucumber-based decoration and a rose from the skin of a tomato (Amy wins that round hands-down!), before finally taking our final dish (Vietnamese hot-pot) to our table and being treated to yet more gourmet dishes. At the end of the day to make up for our indulgences we take a swim in their outdoor swimming pool as twilight descends. 

Our final day sees us cram in more nearby sights before flying down to old Saigon. We take a tour to the old ruins of My Son (pronounced Mee Sun, if you must know). Badly bombed by the Americans as they wrongly thought it was a guerrilla base, and before that lying hidden in thick forest undiscovered by outsiders for centuries. The ancient ruins are an impressive sight. Thick vines grow around deities, phallic constructions and stone carvings. One of their main mysteries is how they were created; built from red bricks quarried from the hill-tops nearby, their construction used no cement at all and yet they stand tall 1000 years later. Modern attempts by European institutes have so far failed to recreate or explain them. Our return journey sees us travel by boat back home and includes an uninspiring lunch, glorious sunshine and a brief stop off at a wood-carving village on an island (read: tourist shop selling rubbish!). 

Next stop: the un-flooded south!
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Sue Ashworth on

Amy it looks fabulous. I don't know how you both find the time to write this detailed blog when you've got so much to see....must be those Weetabix keeping you going! Glad you're enjoying yourselves X

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