Hoi An

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End May 05, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, March 5, 2011

The journey from Dalat to Hoi An was slow.  The bus carefully wound its way around the 'Central Highlands', Vietnam's mountainous belt, until we finally reached the coast, where we switched buses, arriving into Hoi An bleary-eyed at about 8am.

Despite the obvious discomfort of night buses, it's so convenient to arrive in a new place in the morning, as we were able to walk into town and explore the main city sights that day.  However, our energy was definitely flagging by the afternoon so after a nice lunch we had a slow afternoon and I went in search of a tailor.  Hoi An is the silk capital of the country, and the small town is just bursting with clothes shops as most tourists get at least one item made here.  I went into a few, but they all seemed much the same: in fact, at least two were using the same catalogues, and I'm sure they ship their orders to the same factory.  I ordered a suit (dress, skirt and jacket) and they took my measurements and told me to come back the next day.

We decided to get up really early the following day to beat the tour groups to the ancient Champa ruins at My Son.  In the event, a heavy downpour of rain delayed us so that (after a little bit of inevitable getting lost) we got there at about 10.30am!  In fact the tour groups weren't too much bother as they did move en masse, meaning that once they'd moved on the place was pretty deserted.  The rain probably helped with that too.  The site had, like Angkor Wat, been 'rediscovered' by the French in the early 20th century, but then My Son sufferred massive bombardments by the Americans during the war, as they thought the Viet Cong were hiding there.  You can still see the bomb craters and bullet holes.

On the way back to Hoi An Roland spotted an intriguing looking building at the top of a hill, so we went to investigate.  It seemed to be an old French or American military stronghold: a brick and concrete shell of a building with panoramic views of the surrounding area.  Next to it was a wooden cross presumably erected in memory of those who died there.  It reminded me of the war sites of Northern France.

Back in town I returned to the tailor to try on my suit, and since it fitted I ordered a pair of trousers since they'd be ready the following morning.  Afterwards we rode on to the beach, just 5km away.  We passed some small fishing communities and a picturesque riverside where a procession of ducks was slowly gliding its way along.  Back at the hotel I decided to check out the swimming pool.  I wasn't expecting it to be ice cold but neverthless I did a few lengths which was invigorating!  I even went back the following morning, as soon as I woke up as if before I would come to my senses and decide not to bother.

That morning I collected my clothes from the tailor, then somehow got lost on the way back meaning it was fairly late by the time we commenced our outing, which of course began with another false start and U-turn.  Eventually we got onto the coast road heading north to Danang.  All along the coast (China Beach) was a huge amount of construction work, with hotels and resorts being built on the beach.

Our first stop were the Marble mountians: each of the five represents an element, and is topped with a pagoda.  We visited the most popular of the five, dodging old ladies who were trying to get us to pay them for parking outside their shops.  The mountains are surrounded by hundreds of shops selling huge marble statues.  The mountain itself was great for exploring.  We enjoyed the views from the look-out points, and went into several caves.  One cave in particular was literally breathtaking: a huge chamber, lit from above, houses several shrines and a large seated buddha.  The light was incredible: the hazy sunlight falling from above seemed to mingle with the wafts of incense drifting upwards, to create an ethereal fog only pierced by the candles of the shrines.  The place had been used as a field hospital for the Viet Cong during the war.

After the mountain we rode on to 'Monkey Mountain', a peninsula on which stands a huge statue of the buddha which looks like the Virgin Mary.  The view down to the beach was beautiful, with the little round bamboo boats you get in Vietnam; small fishing boats with proud red flags; and some men standing waist-deep in the sea, fishing with poles and nets. 

The ride back to Hoi An was actually quite chilly, but it didn't rain and we rode through the city before returning the bike and getting some dinner.  The following day we were getting an early bus to Hue.
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Dad on

Hi Holl's, Keep them coming! Love Dad

mum on

HI Holls
you have really got into the swing of things - can't wait to see your tailored clothes
enjoy your journey to Hanoi
Take Care

mum on

I have just spoken to Hollie - she is fine but unable to access her blog or facebook
she is travellingto Loa (sp?) an epic 20 hr bus journey from 5pm today where she hopes to be able to update her blog

Pat on

Thanks for the update. I was worried!

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