Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Hoi An is beautiful, no one can really argue with that. The old town is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is full of restored traditional buildings and interesting architecture.  It's setting on the Thu Bon river doesn’t hurt as well in adding to its charm.  There are some downsides to this though when you are on a budget trip, particularly during Tet holidays when things are even more expensive.   Not to be put off or depressed Kevin and I decided to splash out on our first night.  We went to an amazing Italian restaurant in the centre of the old town, including great desserts and a bottle of wine, followed by a number of beers in a nice little bar.  We even played pool for the first time (obviously I won!) and table football – although given that the table was on a slant and the men didn’t move much, that was a bit of a waste of time (although I actually did win this one so I won’t slag it off too much!).  The best part was walking 'home’ at 3am when there was no one around.  We got to see the famous Japanese Bridge on our own all lit up – definitely more impressive than when its swarming with tourists in the day.   We also stood for ages watching a woman wading through some swampy water and even when we went back the next day we still couldn’t work out what she was doing!

The next day was the equivalent of New Year’s Eve, or Tet Eve to the Vietnamese.  Tet (Lunar New Year) is like Christmas, New Year, everyone’s birthdays all in one go.  Everyone goes home, everything is shut and prices hike anywhere where something is open.  We woke up a little late and worse for wear, although this worked out well for us in the end because the celebration didn’t start until late anyway and we had to stay up until midnight.  The streets were manic during the day, a little like Christmas Eve, with people buying last minute things – food, traditional plants etc, and cleaning their homes and the street in front of their homes.  This is a tradition which means they can start the new year afresh.  In the evening we went across the river to watch the New Years Eve show.  It was a bit underwhelming but great to see anyway.  We did wonder how much of it was actually geared towards tourists and not actually the way they actually celebrate.  Still we got to see some singing, dancing and acting.  The fireworks at midnight were very impressive and went on for well over 45 minutes. 

Just to prove that we did more than just eat and wander aimlessly around a town for 3 days, we spent our last day in this area visiting a Cham monument called My Son.  The setting is beautiful and the temples impressive, although probably the most interesting thing about being there is seeing what damage the American’s did during the war.  The Viet Cong used the area as a hideout and without care or regard for the history the American’s destroyed vast numbers of the temples by bombing it.  Good work.
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