Charmed in Hoi An

Trip Start Feb 16, 2010
Trip End Mar 09, 2010

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

No time to linger at Hue. Board my bus at 730am to Hoi An via Danang. Was busy reading up on Hoi An on the bus. A quick stopover at Danang at 1130am. Danang as a city was disappointing. Benign looking already, made worse by crass looking modern hotels like a dog's breakfast from Las Vegas. I was glad to skip Danang completely.
Arrived at Hoi An in sweltering heat. Got a motorbike ride into the Old Town and rocked up to Phu Thinh Hotel for a US$12 room. Perfect location, right in the heart of the Old Town's festive action. Spending the earlier afternoon, sweating around Hoi An and decided to head back to room for relief. Managed to secure my bus ticket to Dalat - all agencies I had asked had sold out.
Hoi An town is actually the prettiest and the most charming in Vietnam. But the Old Town was freshly painted (for most parts) and it was probably cleaner than Singapore's Clarke Quay. Save for the wet market and rustic temples, the Old Town felt just like Clarke Quay. However I prefer the grottier side of Vietnam, like the Old Quarters in Hanoi.
One of my must do in Hoi An was to have a bowl of Cau Lau, from the most famous stall in Hoi An. Cau Lau, a dropey type of noodle, is made with the water from the local Ba Le well, located in Old Town. Eating Cau Lau regularly is said to prevent ageing. The guide from the tour office reckoned he eats about 5 serves of Cau Lau every week. Not bad for Cau Lau businesses.
I found the restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet - Ba Le Well Restaurant in a very well hidden alley. I sat down, asked for a menu, but was served almost immediately a banquet of satay skewers, spring rolls, vinegared salads and a huge bowl if raw greens. The lady boss came up saying "No Cau Lau! This - best! You try!" For vnd 60 000 and the banquet served, I didnt want to be rude. She started scooping up the dishes onto a rice paper, rolled it, dipped in a savoury sauce and presented to me. I must say it was delicious. I cleaned up the palette with so much sweat like I had stepped out of a shower.
After resting at hotel room, I was back out in Old Town at 8pm. It was alot more cooler and the streets of Old Town came alive with many locals in festive mood. It felt like Lunar new year celebrations had not ended. Decided to try the Cau Lau at a hawker style food court but where all stalls sell the same dishes. The bowl of Cau Lau, although small in portion, was tasty. This particular stall was highly recommended by the 3 french women I met at Sapa. Name of the stall - MR:RIN. Ventured to the market and ate bbq corn cob dipped in herbs and chilli vinegar garnish, and also some mini bean paste wrapped in leaves. Crossing the bridge, I met Tuan - a fellow traveller from US (first met him at Sapa) and his chinese mate Jonathan. Had beers at a nice cafe looking out at the river while Hoi An slowly fell into slumber.
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