Hoi An

[originally posted Tue June 30 2009 at 5:44pm]

We’ve been in Hoi An for two days now, after arriving Monday morning via train. We settled in to our rooms at a nice little budget hotel right off of the main town area and got on our way to explore the old town. I’d heard tons of the bespoke shoes and suits that are made here so purchasing one was on the agenda, as well.

After winding our way through the maze that is the old city, we finally settled on a suitmaker whose recommendation had come from some New Zealanders we’d met in Nha Trang. I ended up purchasing two suits (one three piece gray and one black pinstripe) and two shirts. We picked them up for a fitting today and they both turned out great. The best part? The price — the whole package was just over $100! After (or before?) shopping we stopped in to a restaurant along the waterfront to try Cau Lau noodles, a dish that Hoi An is famous for. They’re basically grittier (texture-wise) and thicker pho noodles that were in the same soup, but served with fried dough (like croutons). Needless to say, they were delicious.

The rest of the time in between was interspersed walking around the town and alleyways exploring the area. After clothes shopping (and the guys stopping in a few other stores to get some other jackets and the like), we met up with Rachel and her sister for dinner at a waterfront and finished the evening up a few beers (and working to avoid some rather annoying young American and British backpackers).

Today we went to the My Son ruins, about 45km outside of Hoi An. The weather was easily in the high 90s and probably crossing in to the 100s. The sites were beautiful, old Hindu relics that reminded me of a little version of Angor Wat. We explored the ruins for a few hours until the crushing heat sent us back to Hoi An.

We spent the afternoon getting the alterations done to our clothes, and then afterward sat outside of a sandwich cart (Bánh mì) while eating our sandwiches (vegetarian of course). While sitting down, the women who owned the store we got our clothes at came over and joined us for over an hour talking about life in Vietnam, her family, the store, life when she was a kid and when she opened the store. It was truly fascinating having a conversation with her and talking about the two worlds we came from.

The trip is entering the back half of journey. It’s already Tuesday here, and our flights out of Saigon are on Saturday evening via Tokyo. We’ve got bus tickets tomorrow at 7am to Hue, where we have a four hour stop over in order to catch our 16 hour bus to Hanoi, thus putting us in Hanoi Thursday morning. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to do a day or overnight tour through Halong Bay, and if not enjoy Hanoi. We’ve got to get on an airplane from Hanoi to Saigon Friday or Saturday in order to make our flights out (and meet up with Justin for a day in Saigon as he starts his trip).