Today I moved on from one world heritage site to another. I booked myself on an 8:00am bus from Hue to Hoi An. Approximate bus time is 3 hours to Hoi An so I take the time (not all 3 hours obviously) to text Alex: “I am on bus nearing Hoi An (beach) and meeting others.” Ok, it’s not exactly “War and Peace” but still a thoughtful update ….
Upon arriving in a new town you often instantly know whether you like it or not. This is a “like” town for me, even if it is wet and grey. Arriving in Hoi An on my own, I don’t yet have any accommodation organised but there’s no rush so I decide to first grab an early lunch (simple pork rice) at a restaurant near the river in the old town. After lunch I look to catch up with my brother so I start to make my way out of the old town, walking along Tran Phu Road which is the principal commercial street (ie shops) towards the hotel they are staying at. I somehow manage to resist buying anything, even from the shoe shops.
Hoi An is certainly not a vast city and before I reach their hotel, I spot them in front of a motorbike hire shop. They had each hired a motorbike for the day. While hiring a motorbike is probably not likely again in my lifetime after my efforts in Hanoi, I am still happy enough to jump on the back of my brother’s bike to grab a lift back to central Hoi An. I figure it might now be wise to sort out a bed for myself for the next two nights before I take a look around this (compact) city centre. We agree that we will catch up for dinner that night.
For my two nights in Hoi An I book myself into the Thanh Van Hotel which is centrally located and included breakfast for the very reasonable price of VND$550,000 (AU$25). The hotel even has a central swimming pool, which is pretty cool.
The town centre has managed to remain devoid of large hotels and loud bars. Hoi An is known as a place to buy tailored clothing and there are literally hundreds of tailor shops for the choosing. I am wanting to get fitted for some clothing, and am thinking a nice dress (as opposed to an awful dress?). I am referred by my hotel to their own tailor, Thanh Van Cloth Shop located conveniently next to the hotel. I needed to decide and order the clothing ASAP to allow next day collection – before I leave this adorable place.
The tailor shops of Hoi An provide a made-to-measure service, where they basically have racks of material and books of pictures. All you have to do is choose your picture (as to the style of garment) and then which fabric. They take a few measurements and you can do a fitting once ready and have any alterations done if necessary… too easy. I decide to go a bit wild and order a red cocktail dress and a top which will cost me VND$864,000.00 (AU$68) for both.
I spend what’s left of the afternoon checking out the markets. The temptation is too great now and I am on a roll after ordering my clothing – I succumb to buying a few (small) items always keeping in mind I have to fit anything I buy into my tiny backpack.
The best way to get around the old city of Hoi An is on foot as many of the streets are narrow and tailored to pedestrians, allowing you to meander along, ducking in and out of shops (the charming merchants’ houses) on both sides of the street. I just need to watch out for people on pushbikes.
I met my brother and his girlfriend for dinner at a restaurant (with a balcony view) overlooking the Thu Bon River.
Dinner was terrific until part way through dinner when my brother realised that he had left his wallet (not that old trick?) and passport in one of the tailor shops. He remembered that he put them down when he took off his shorts to try on his clothing and must have left them there. Cool as a cucumber, he continues eating and says he will go back and check after dinner…. “ARE YOU MAD!” was the cry from both his girlfriend and me. “You should go back now, they might close soon”. It was already pretty late. Can you imagine… I would have been back there in a flash but nooo, not Mr Cool… he says “Oh yeah I suppose” and walks (not runs) his way back to the tailor shop (hoping he can remember which one it is).
My brother returns a short time later with wallet and passport in hand and I think is more relieved than he is letting on. Apparently they had been wondering when he would turn up and had kept it safe… don’t you love honesty.
After dinner we relocate to a more low key restaurant/cafe near my hotel for desert/supper (I am a sucker for banana pancakes, who am I kidding…. banana anything basically).
Hoi An translates as “peaceful meeting place” which is true enough but I wonder what the translation for “chock full of charm” is because this place has loads.
Thank you Hoi An for a lovely day.[showmyads]
For previous Vietnam post see Hue, Vietnam and its walled Citadel and Imperial City by cyclo
For next Vietnam post see A day trip from Hoi An to My Son ruins a perfectly good day