Amazing who you meet on the street in Hoi An

There’s more to Hoi An than shopping. While we definitely took advantage of the opportunity to have clothes custom made, we also made time to enjoy the town. With everything moving at a much slower pace, and the Old Town district closed to scooters, it was a great place to just walk around and explore.

Our first full day in Hoi An started early with a trip to see the fish come into the market at 5:30 in the morning. While the streets between the hotel and the market were largely empty, the market was buzzing under the tarps. Of course, the tarps were set up to keep the locals dry which meant I had to walk around bent in half or stand with my head through a hole. It was great to be the only non locals walking around the market, though a few other morning tourists joined us eventually.

Early morning at the Hoi An market

After the market, believe it or not, we decided to go for a run. Conveniently, we were told that the beach was about 4 km from the hotel. It may just have the time off. It could have been the early morning. Maybe the humidity we weren’t used to, or the rough roads and traffic dodging, but it was a long 4 km. My guess is that our round trip was 10 km. Whatever the distance, it was good to get out for some exercise. While it was cloudy, the beach was nice and we had an opportunity to see the fishermen coming in on their round boats; they look like giant soup bowls. It’s pretty impressive that they can stand up in the surf, let alone steer them into shore.

Coracle landing on Hoi An beach.

After some much needed rest, a shower and a second breakfast (the fruit before the run had long since been expended), we headed back into town. As we rounded a corner near the market, we bumped into Kevin and Vanessa. While we knew before we came to SE Asia that we would see them, and had even confirmed by email that we would potentially cross paths in Hoi An, it was still odd to turn the corner and find them walking towards us. We had a chance to catch up quickly in the street and more over dinner that night at Mango Rooms. It was great to see them, and their two month trip definitely makes our 2.5 weeks seem far too short. They also gave us plenty of reasons to come back to this area to visit Lao.

Dinner at Mango Rooms.

Our two evenings in Hoi An also gave us a chance to see the lanterns that light up the town at night.

Stimulating the Vietnamese Economy

Hoi An has been our favourite stop so far. It’s smaller with a pedestrian friendly old town that you can wander around comfortably. It doesn’t hurt that it was warmer. We were in shorts and t-shirts pretty much the whole time.

Our drive from Hue to Hoi An included a quick stop at the Marble Mountain in Da Nang. Actually, we never really stopped in Da Nang, but you can see just from driving through how different it is going to be in a few years. All along the coast massive hotels are being built by the likes of Le Meridien. A little further down the road Colin Montgomery has just designed a new golf course. I only hope that some of the guests of these resorts actually get a chance to see Vietnam, that they don’t become gated communities with little outside contact.

Sculpture in one of the Marble Mountain caves.

Maybe it was seeing all this foreign investment in Vietnam, or just Katy’s love of a good deal, but once we arrived in Hoi An, it didn’t take us long to start doing a little economic stimulating of our own.

We knew before arriving that Hoi An is the place for buying clothing and it didn’t disappoint. I was able to get two made-to-measure suits and two shirts, all for what you would pay for just the shirts in Toronto. Katy did even better with a range of items from dresses, to skirts to jackets. A few of the items she had made had the women sitting at the table next to us quite impressed and asking for directions.

The trick now is getting it all home. We’ve managed to get everything in our luggage. Now we just have to hope it all irons out well when we get home.

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