HOI AN, VIETNAM
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Stepping off the plane in Danang, the air was sultry. Ky Ky, Madame
Cuc’s sister, (Hotel
127) was there just as promised. In no time, we were escorted the 30
kilometers to Hoi An, a World Heritage site, located on the South China
seacoast about half way between Saigon and Hanoi.
We promptly settled into our room at the Thanh Binh III, a new and beautiful
hotel that was recommended to us by Ky Ky. Large lacey mosquito nets dangled
over each bed in our room, and there was a balcony overlooking quaint roadways.
For $16 USD, a breakfast buffet was included, and a sparkling pool
downstairs in the center of the hotel, beckoned.
JAPANESE COVERED BRIDGE
Wasting no time, we quickly walked through the historic town, making our way
to the ancient Japanese bridge. Sturdy and graceful despite its age, this
bridge is a
tribute to the Japanese who lived and traded here in Hoi An centuries ago.
The Chinese influence is noticeable in this town as well, with pagodas on many streets, and Chinese writing scattered here and there. The architecture is varied, with a
mixture of French colonial, Japanese, Chinese, and old moldy buildings of
unknown origin. All of this is placed charmingly on winding streets, with
small narrow alleyways connecting them.
Boutiques are everywhere; tailors, silk tie makers, wood
carvers, and hand embroidered silk purse shops, just for a start. This town
certainly has its allure. Anyone interested in painting, photography,
souvenir hunting, or having clothes made would be in paradise!
Contrasting all of this this enticement, however, was the incessant honking
and motors gunning on the small streets in town. Although we tried, it was
hard to ignore these continuous loud distractions, or to have a conversation
at any of the open air restaurants situated on the streets when traffic was
going by. Which was most of the time. In the early mornings, tour busses
came to pick up passengers from the hotels, and instead of sending someone
in to collect travelers, they would just honk. At each of the hotels, one
after another, all lined up on the roads, they would lay on their horns for
the passengers to come and board for their tours. This proved to be more
than bothersome, as our room’s balcony was right at street side. There
wasn’t a moment’s peace.
HANDMADE SILK AND BAMBOO LANTERNS
After three nights and mornings of this, moving around the corner and taking a back room at
was a gratifying decision. The tranquility found there soothed our nerves, and our
temperaments improved dramatically. At least for the moments resting in our suite, we could
chat, think, read and write.
Meanwhile, a noodle shop was found just doors away that served up delicious
full meals and salads for a pittance. And although it took a few days, we
discovered “our” vendor with the right prices for beer and drinking
water. Things were looking up!
Hoi An is quite clean and walking around
viewing the sites was a delight. Dozens of restaurants in all price ranges
abounded, especially down by the river. Fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables
are of the highest quality, and the Vietnamese served them up in creative
and tantalizing ways.
The weather had been fabulous. Sunny, clear skies with reasonable humidity
greeted us without fail, so we decided to venture to the beach. For
pocket change, each of us rode on the backs of motorbikes, and zipped
through the countryside for 4 kilometers towards the South China Sea.
Arriving at a pristine
beach, white sands, calm sapphire seas, restaurants and beach chairs were
all lined up just waiting for us! Settling in, it felt like home.
BEACH AT HOI AN
Almost immediately, a cold beer, an iced coffee, and two foot massages were
ordered up. Then it was sitting back in the beach chairs to enjoy our slice
of paradise. We watched the calm seas lap against the sugar white sand, the fishermen throwing out
their nets, and the vendors who presented freshly cut fruit, candies, conversation, jewelry, and other sundries. Relishing the promised land works up an appetite quickly, so from the
simple kitchen, we requested plates heaped with humongous grilled shrimp and
a whole fresh fish with ginger and garlic. So delicious, just the bones
could have been savored!
VERDANT RICE PADDIES
After an afternoon of feasting, sunning, relaxing, swimming and foot
massages, it was time to return to the town of Hoi An. Walking back, there
were workers managing the endless brilliant, deep green rice paddies. For
miles as far as one could see, the fields were spotted with laborers
planting rice in rows, or rhythmically scooping out water from irrigation ditches.
The image is unforgettable, and one that is repeated incessantly throughout
Evening again found us at our favorite noodle shop where overflowing plates of sautéed vegetables, spring rolls, and crispy fresh
salads were our dinner choice.
Satisfied with the day, we turned in to our peaceful out-of-the-way hotel
room with dazzling images to fill our dreams for the night.
Vietnam was proving to be filled with variety, alluring in its beauty, and
seductive in its charm.
AND TRAVEL INFORMATION
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About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.
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