Every day is pretty exciting on this trip, and although memorable, it is hard to establish what we did where, so I have to refer to the order of photos, and our tour itinerary to complete the blog! The weather has been absolutely wonderful since we arrived, and day 5 was no exception as we boarded our private, air conditioned bus for the trip to Hoi An. The route took us up and over Hai Van Pass “Ocean Cloud Pass”. It was so named for the mist that rises up off the Sea. We didn’t see any mist this day, it was way too warm, and sunny blue skies, but we did have beautiful opportunities to view the sea traveling towards the top and then when we stopped at the summit (496 M/1627 Ft) for a “happy room” break. This was a war station, and still had bunkers surrounding the hill side, and we had time to do a little exploring.
We arrived in Hoi An early enough to freshen up at the hotel before venturing out for a bicycle ride, this time we had to use our own power. It’s very flat in this city, so it was easy to cruise around – after we got off the main roads full of motorcycles, cars, trucks, and tuk tuks. Soon we were out riding among the rice fields, passing the odd water buffalo and people working the fields. We did stop at a village that the government is in the process of modernizing having just recently installed automatic sprinkler systems recently. We had an elderly couple from the village show us the technique used to water the gardens before modern technology arrived. By the troubles some were having, it isn’t as easy to do as it looks! . We were also treated to some rice, and snake wine…pretty dark, and dirty looking in the building they made it in, but heck, the alcohol content was so high in both wines I don’t expect anything would survive!
Our next stop was at a palm farm, where we had a bit of a rest in the shade, a cold bottle of water and of course fresh fruit. With that done, we were then offered a ride in the traditional round boats. The water was extremely dirty, and was glad our paddler knew his way a-round his boat!
Of course we had a comedian for our paddler, and he would lure another boat into the palms, then distract them, then he would proceed to tie their boat to a palm, and quickly challenge them to a race. Too much fun. Lots of the other guys on the tour were helping to paddle, and our guy finally gave Gus a paddle to use, then immediately splashed one of our girls in the other boat, and proceeded to point to Gus when she turned around! She was already wise to him, and I don’t think appreciated getting splashed with the dirty water, although took it all in good stride! After our little boat ride we biked to the river, where we met up with a boat, loaded the bikes onto the back, and headed back down the river to town. What a great day of culture and fun in this vibrant city.
Before the end of the day we did go into a tailors, and I was measured for a dress, and Gary a shirt – what the heck…price was right, and after one alteration, it was ready the following day. Our second day in Hoi An was just as great. We had a great deal of time on our own, and used that time to relax and enjoy the old city and water way. We did go to Oodles of Noodles for lunch one day. It is run by Planeterra Foundation partners, STREETS International. The class, developed exclusively for G Adventures help former street youths learn the basics in tourism, and allows them to practice English, and increase the skills they will need in the tourism industry. We had a lot of fun there, and were able to make our own appetizer, which was basically a big round noodle, that we then pulled apart and ate with rice cakes/crackers! So good. I will have to find some recipes when we arrive home.
The last day in Hoi An we elected to go tour My Son Sanctuary. Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Again, just driving to the Sanctuary was a tour in itself, seeing the countryside that we would not normally get to see if we had stayed in the city. My Son Sanctuary dates from the 4th to the 13th centuries and is located in central Viet Nam, it is of the Hindu religion of India and is the largest in Indochina. It sits within a basin, surrounded by mountains which made it less vulnerable while under attack. It took over 10 centuries to complete. There are over 70 temples and tombs located in this 2.5 mile wide basin. It was the place for religious ceremonies for the kings of the ruling dynasties. During the wars, the complex was damaged extensively, However there is ongoing work being done to restore, and to save all the structures from encroaching forests, which is very thick, and water run off which swells during the rainy season. They are still actively sweeping the area for land mines, although paths have been created for tourists to walk around the area safely.
We found ourselves a nice little pub/restaurant overlooking the Thu Bon River for our last evening in Hoi An. Once again, we saw people sitting on the second story balcony, so went in search of stairs, and once up there, it was beautiful…its just getting to these places that look sketchy to westerners! We sat and watched the sun set, and watched as people placed lit lanterns into the river to let them float away. We struck up a conversation with a couple from the U.S.A. and got many tips for the remainder of our trip. Was great views and conversation.
Tomorrow…bus to DaNang Airport, and a 1 hour flight to Siagon! (Ho Chi Minh City)