After taking the night sleeper bus from Da Lat, I arrived in Hoi An just after dawn. Buses don’t tend to drop you anywhere near civilisation, so you have to haggle with a local motor taxi to get you to your destination. I knew my hostel was only 2km away (or US$0.75 taxi), so when I asked the motor Taxi how much and he said ‘US$6’..I thought, ‘this is going to be a challenge’. But the first rule of haggling is to know what price you want to pay. Stick to your rule and don’t go over. No one will ever sell you anything if they don’t make something out of it. In the end, i got my ride at my price. With the bike loaded up once again with my bags, we zipped through the empty early morning streets of Hoi An. I was already in love.
I spent the morning roaming the streets of the Old Town. This place gave me a fuzzy feeling in my belly, and it wasn’t just the anticipation at eating at the thousand and one delicious eateries, it was that Hoi An had taken me back in time to traditional Vietnam. Locals walked the streets in their Nón Lá hats, Vietnamese Conical hat, like we would wear a pair of Converse. It was equally beautiful, and enchanting. The streets of Hoi An are something straight out of a storybook. The yellow clad walls provide an iconic backdrop to turn the mundane daily activities of life, into a spectacular and entrancing work of art. Hoi An is famous for a number of things, one of which is their world class tailors. My friend and I both struggle to buy clothes, being vertically blessed glamourzons, so visiting a tailor was number one on our list.
Selecting a tailor is a challenge. You want to get a good one otherwise your clothes will falter early in their wear. And finding yourself in the hands of a tailor who lacks professionalism can ruin the experience, which is just as important as the clothes. Recommendations become really important. Do your research online, and ask a number of unconnected places to get a reputable shop. We ended up getting our clothes made at Peace Tailors. They were fantastic! And reasonably priced. Couldn’t recommend them enough. My friend and I got a number of custom outfits made and the turnaround was only a few days.
Next we tackled the mysteries of the orient...Vietnamese cooking. Finding a cooking school was pretty easy, as travel bloggers love to talk about food as much as me and my friends love to eat it. With the help of our hostel we organised a two hour cooking class at Cafe 43 where we would learn to cook and then eat four dishes of our choice. This was by far the most fun I have had. The class was private and hosted in the cafe area. Hein was the name of the chef and her English and professionalism was next to none. All three of us were terrible cooks to begin with and at the end of it we had four dishes to dazzle our friends with back home.
With the rain gone, and the sun returning, we decided to take our bikes out on the country roads to My Sòn. My Son is a cluster of Hindu temple ruins that were constructed between the 4th and 14th century AD, by the kings of Champa. Walking through the very well established site you can get up close to the beautiful etchings that are dedicated to the god Shiva. Mỹ Sơn is perhaps the longest inhabited archaeological site in Indochina. Sadly, a large proportion of its architecture was destroyed by US carpet bombing during a single week of the Vietnam War, leaving not only the destruction of the archeological buildings, but huge holes in the surrounding land. Hoi an delivered everything, beauty, tradition and fabulous party dress that would Carrie Bradshaw jealous! What a special place.