Day 253 – 255 (14th to 16th May) – Hoi An

3 06 2011

If you wear clothes and eat food you’ll love Hoi An….

Hoi An is quite simply lovely. The car and motorbike free centre of town is a UNESCO world heritage site. Every building is excellently preserved and one of the best examples of a 15th to 19th century South East Asian trading port. Walking the streets of Hoi An is like stepping back in time; the foreign influenced Vietnamese architecture, the fading paint work, old roof tiles and weathered wood work make for an impossibly idyllic setting. We could have walked the narrow quiet streets forever, however it was a very hot 35 degrees and we were melting.

Hoi An is set amongst rural Vietnam, offering stunning beaches just to it’s east, and picturesque rice paddy fields to it’s west. Jen and I hired a scooter for a couple of days, and on the first day explored the coastline doing a kind of beach crawl, visiting several lovely and some completely deserted beaches. The second day we explored the sleepy villages of rural Vietnam. However, they weren’t so sleepy as the rice harvest was in full swing. With hundreds of locals all out in the paddy fields cutting, thrashing, drying, transporting or burning the rice crop. The sleepy countryside was alive with activity and it was all fascinating to watch. We explored down narrow tracks and paths, through villages and over rivers with only the risk of getting lost amongst the maze of paddy fields.

As well as all that, Hoi An offers some of the best Asian food we have eaten; White Rose, Fried Wonton, Vietnamese Pancakes and Cao Lau; and the opportunity to learn how to cook some of these local dishes in evening cookery classes. We are looking forward to feeding you with our butchered interpretation of Vietnamese cooking. However, look out for Jen’s spring rolls. Our chef/teacher was not too impressed with her spring rolls, asking ‘What the hell is that?’

When not stuffing our faces, cooking up a storm, sunning ourselves on a beach or exploring the idyllic countryside, we also had time to get ourselves fitted for some new threads. Hoi An is famed for it’s quality tailoring and materials permitting, it appears you can get pretty much anything made to measure here.

Our lovely time spent in Hoi An has concreted our opinion that Vietnam is so far our most enjoyable country in South East Asia. If you can get over the aggressive and invasive selling culture it really is a wonderful place. Unfortunately we don’t think Hoi An is going to remain as lovely as it is for very much longer. It was impossible not to notice the beginnings of numerous new resort hotels on that stunning Vietnamese coastline. The tourist industry has really taken off inVietnamin the last 5-10 years and seems set to continue with the arrival of mainstream package holidaymakers.

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