Even more smiley happy shiny people…
09.12.2009 - 12.12.2009 32 °C
Surprisingly our sleeper bus experience which lasted the whole of 23 hours wasn’t too bad. The buses actually had beds on them and for the first 12 hours we were lucky enough to have the whole of the back line to ourselves.
We made a lunch stop in Mui Ne which was a beautiful beach strip.
It was so nice we even deliberated whether to come back at some time in the near future. After lunch we got back on the bus and headed to Nha Trang where we made another 1 hour stop. It was here that the real “night bus” experience began as we boarded another bus which was packed full of backpackers.
We slept as much as we could and before we knew it, it was 7am and we had arrived into Hoi An. The bus happened to stop right outside a guesthouse (which was probably a ploy to get the passengers to stay there). However, at this point we were shattered and as soon as we were approached by the touts we decided to give in and have a look. The room was really nice and so we decided we couldn’t be bothered to walk like zombies through town to find anything else and so booked a room.
We slept for the rest of the morning before emerging to take a look at where we were.
We had luckily booked ourselves into a guesthouse which was right next to the Old Town. We walked around the Old Town which was amazing. Being a World Heritage Site - the whole area had been retained to keep its appearance as it was hundreds of years ago.
We wondered around the cobbled streets and visited the many historical museums set within the old houses. The people in Hoi An are possibly the nicest we have met so far. We came across so many who just wanted to practice their "hello"s - even the really old women wearing the conical hats who were sitting on the street pavements selling fruit and allsorts. Of course as they said hello we would stop and respond by saying "sin jhow" (hello) which would bring on the biggest toothy smiles we had ever seen.
We found ourselves at the market where we decided to try the local food and drink. We tried the fried wonton (which was so good and easily addictive) and white rose (an amazing steamed shrimp dumpling).
Of course being in Hoi An we were surrounded by bia hoi places serving ice cold ‘fresh beer’ (the local beer) and at 4000 dong (12p) a pint we couldn’t pass it up.
We walked around this peaceful town for the rest of the day before calling it a night - but not before having a few more fresh beers with dinner and of course topping it off with the best chocolate desserts in town at the Tam Tam Café.
We had seen bicycles for hire around town and so on one of the days we hired a couple and headed to the nearby Cua Dai Beach.
We cycled through some of the most amazing rural scenery before parking our bikes and heading to the beach. This is what beaches should be like.
There was hardly anyone there. There was no one to hassle you. There wasn’t even any load blaring music from any restaurants and bars. It was just us, white sand, clear water and the odd local who wanted to come and say hello (and then practice their English with us).
After relaxing for a few hours and coming to terms with a slower pace than we had been used to we decided to get back on our bikes and see what else we could find on our way back to town.
We stopped by a river café for lunch, which was in the most amazing location.
We went back into the Old Town where we cycled through the cobbled streets and headed across the river. It was here that we saw how one side of the river was old and preserved as it was years ago and across the other was the part not covered by the Unesco boundary and so had been restored and renovated. It was still an amazing place and so peaceful.
We had heard of one more Vietnamese dish called cao lau - a noodle dish which only tasted as it should in Hoi An. This was because the ‘real’ dish has noodles cooked in water from a local well. Luckily we found a street corner near the local fruit and veg market which was packed with local people sitting on very low stools eating the dish made by a lady with a hot pot. We sat down, pointed, smiled and nodded before trying our luck. The noodles were really nice as was a local lady who came and introduced herself before sitting with us to talk about anything and everything for the next hour or so.
After cycling around most of central Hoi An and drinking as much fresh beer as we physically could, we looked into our next move. We've now booked a bus to Hue further up the east coast.