Hoi An

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Hoi An is a village on the Thu Bon river, famously known for its gazillion tailors specialising in silk and suits.
We arrived weary and starving after our 13hr train ride and hour bus ride from Danang. Bau led us down narrow laneways to Bale Well, a simple local restaurant specialising in grilled pork satay, crispy rice pancakes and shrimp spring rolls. The sign out the front proudly read 'Welcome to Bale Well, As recommended by Ponely Planet'…..I think that translates as ‘Lonely Planet’. It was a hands on event with everyone wrapping their spring rolls, pork and salad in rice paper before dipping into a soybean sauce. There was a ludicrous amount of food consumed before we headed off to see the tailors, not the best idea before a fitting. 

I've done cooking classes in Thailand, Laos and Indonesia and I would have to say that the Hoi An class would be the least notable. Everything was prepared and ready to throw together. The English boys were happy they didn't have to get their hands dirty but I was quite bored with the whole thing and didn't really learn anything I didn't already know. None the less, the food tasted good and I managed to have a few glasses of Dalat wine to pass the time.

Tuesday morning I was up at 5am for the 1.5hr bus to the ancient Cham temples of My Son, now a UNESCO world heritage site. 
The Cham people were Hindu, originating from India and worshiped Shiva (Not to be confused with Shisha, which we smoked at the 'Why Not Bar' in Nha Trang). 
In the Vietnam war 90% of the temples were destroyed. 10% by the Americans and 80% by the Viet Cong, but I’m sure those figures vary depending on who’s telling the story. 
My Son, ‘My’ translating as artistically beautiful and ‘Son’ meaning mountains was located 20km from the Cham city in a lush valley. The temples were only for the higher class such as the emperor and prince to pray and worship. Arriving so early in the morning meant we could take photos before the masses of tourists arrived. We bribed the traditional dancers to do a 10 minute show for us before said masses arrived so we could shoot off to our awaiting river boat. All these early mornings and busy days had me overtired and short tempered. Our horn-happy bus driver was testing my patience. The loudest most distorted horn in the whole of Vietnam and he sat on it the entire way. If I wasn't so tired I’d have shoved that horn somewhere dark and humid.

Our little boat popped and farted its way down the Thu Bon to a wood carving village where we wandered among generations working on statues and furniture
Down the lane a little, mothers and daughters stitched purse sets and bags out of rubber and silk. A set of 3 matching purses for $1 makes you realise how much work is involved for such a small reward. Back on our boat we passed a barge load of bicycles and scooters, the older children coming home across the river from school.  

I picked up my tailor made dresses and we headed to Banana Leaf where I enjoyed the most beautiful coconut poached prawns and pork and prawn steamed wontons.

Tomorrow on to Hue.
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Frieda Hartog on

Hi Monique,

I have been there. How are you? It is very different from Japan he?
Nice and sunny here. Love to hear from you.

Lots of love

Debbie Ey on

Hi Mon, much better site. I love the map showing your travel route.

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