Hoi An & Hue
Hoi An - With photos (back by popular demand)!
Hoi An is a small city of around 75,000 along the Thu Bon River with charming streets lined with French architecture.
Every narrow street has just enough cafés and a ridiculous amount of tailor shops. Nearly every traveler leaves here with an extra bag or two full of custom-made clothes/shoes. We were no exception and are sporting several more items to carry around for a while. The shopper in Amber surfaced and I even got into it a bit. It was good fun being measured for a couple of pants and coming back later that day and trying on the finished product. If a bit more room is needed, no problem, come back in an hour and taaaaadaaaaa, perfection!
Our first night in Hoi An we stayed at a small guest house built in the early 1800's. The entire place was wall-to-wall wood work and just spectacular. Step out of this guesthouse and you are immediately immersed in the buzzing central market. To get to the guesthouse, we had to hike through the market, luggage and all, which was good fun. However, we learned quickly the next morning that markets buzz very early and decided to relocate after one night to a place where we could sleep a little past 5 am (we're on holiday after all).
Our second hotel.
Good fortune blessed us and we happened to be in town for some sort of night festival, complete with floating lanterns, mock "ninja" fighting, a parade, and such. The entire old town, which is a World Heritage Site, turns off its’ electricity and the streets are filled with torches and candlelight. Complete with the ancient looking architecture, you felt as though you just got out of the Delorian in 1750!
We rented bikes one day and headed out a few kilometers to the beach, which if you walked about 20 kilometers north, you would reach the famous China Beach. After chilling on the beach for a while we rode further along the beach to a small village, where we were overwhelmed by school children. A little bit out of the tourist area, we quickly became a spectacle to see, touch, and talk to.
West vs. East
Some photos around town:
A typical Hoi An dish, Cao Lau noodles drying by the side of the street.
We left peaceful Hoi An, taking a 4-hour bus ride up the coast to the busier, less manicured Hué. Hué ranks third in size, behind Saigon and Hanoi.
The picturesque perfume river flows through Hué. On the south side is the main city (where we stayed), and on the north is the old city - in fact, it used to be the Vietnamese capital and cultural hub a few hundred years ago. Most of the city was destroyed during the French war, and most of what was left was destroyed in the "American War", but there were still a few sites to be seen. We rented bikes and rode around the Citadel and entered the Forbidden Purple City (no longer forbidden!).
Justin loves cannons!
We ran into our friends from Québec again, so we ended up hiring a dragonboat for a little sunset cruise on the Perfume River.
This pagoda was made famous in the 60's as it was the place where the monks who set themselves on fire in the streets to protest the war came from.
There was not a whole lot else to do in Hué, but it was a good place to relax and recover from our constant traveling.
Our "private" balcony on the 4th floor of our hotel.
A cat helping me finish my vegetarian sweet and sour "pork".
Justin gives a cyclo driver a ride.