We arrived to Hoi An fairly late at night, however when we did arrive we were pleasantly surprised at the hotel. The hotel itself was a rather lovely building but when we got to our room we found it had been prepared in such a way to make it feel special. There were flowers on the bed, a little message and even a little story waiting for us. It just felt very considered and gave a nice touch to the beginning of our stay.
The next morning we were up and off fairly early for a walk with our guide to show us around the city. We made our way towards the old town but even on the way there was some rather nice architecture. It felt very different from the modern cities we had been spending time in basically since Malaysia.
A ticket was required to be in the old town. They didn’t check it on entry or exit, however I believe if you were caught without it you could be fined. The ticket included entry to some historical buildings as well as some shows, however unfortunately we didn’t really have enough time in Hoi An to take full advantage of all the ticket had to offer.
We were walked around the old town, and I was in awe. It was just so beautiful and it looked like it had come straight off a postcard. I am pretty sure it was a total tourist trap, and not “authentic” but to be honest that didn’t bother me it was beautiful and clearly was daily life for those who lived in the area.
We made our way towards the Japanese covered bridge which was build to link the China town with the Japanese quarter as historically they had to rely on boats to link the two areas of the town. From there we made our way down to the main river.
Hoi An, historically, was an important port town. However over the years the river dropped and the larger ships were not able to make it so far up the river. Now Hoi An depends much more on tourism, however, I feel they have made the transition in a very taistefull way.
It is true that there are many taylors who can make make pretty much any clothes you could possibly want from a picture on the internet in less than 24 hours. There are cheap places to get beautiful silver jewelry. These places are clearly aimed at tourists and we did see more western faces than in a long time, but I feel it wasn’t in your face tourism the way I have seen in other countries.
After our walk around the old town we were taken to somewhere that did feel very cheesey and touristic for lunch. It was called Oodles of Noodles which on the face of it sounded great. It is a charity set up where Vietnamese kids from the streets are trained how to work in hospitality. We were given the chance to make out own noodles under the guidance of some of these kids. It was fun BUT at the beginning we watched an increadibly sanctimonious video from the self-satisfied American who had set up this foundation and the whole presentation was so over the top I felt like I was on an American game-show or something. After having been to some amazing foundations in Cambodia set up and run by locals, Oodles of Noodles left a sour taiste in my mouth and it wasn’t from the food, which was delicious.
After lunch we were given some time to wander around the old town on our own. While some of our group took advantage of the tailoring, we decided to use part of our ticket to explore and ended up in a traditional chinese house.
The house was quite interesting and very pretty, however there was not a lot of information about it.
One thing that did particularly catch our eye was the marks of where flooding had come up to on previous years. It was also shown noted that if necessary everything could very quickyl be moved to the upper floor of the building in the event of a flood. The upper floor was not open to the public as it was the living area of the family.
Later in the afternoon we set off on a cycle ride around the countryside surrounding Hoi An. And let me tell you that countryside is absolutely beautiful. Fairly early on we had a close encounter with a rather large truck on a rather small road. Thankfully it wasn’t driving at the time and we were able to squeeze past.
The area we were cycling through was all agricultural and mostly arable land although there were a few cows around too. There were many people working in the fields as we past.
We even got a chance to watch as the rice was separated from the chaff in the road in front of us before being put into sacks.
We continued on coming across more and more bodies of water before eventually coming to the river.
At the river, some of our group opted to go on a boat back to our starting point. We decided to cycle back, which our wallets thanked us for in the morning but our legs didn’t.
We left Hoi An the next day, and while some of our group managed to get up early enough to go to a yoga session on the beach, we did not. I feel our stay in Hoi An was too short. There is far more to see and do there and I think I would like to go back some day.