Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hoi An

After Halong Bay, I spent a few more days in Hanoi and then flew to Hoi An.  As with Halong Bay, friends who've traveled in Vietnam said that I would love Hoi An.  Typically, Hoi An merits 2-3 days by most travelers as they move through central Vietnam.  I opted to spend 12 days in this small and wonderful town and I'm glad I did.

"There's not enough to do!" is what I heard from a few people when I told them how long I was staying.  I heard that same thing when I planned two weeks in Venice.  People tend to underestimate my ability to find joy in doing nothing.  Here are some photos of me doing exactly that in Hoi An.

At the Hanoi airport I noticed a lot of women in very high heels.  So comfortable for climbing stairs and long flights.

My wonderful, new, HUGE room at the Han Huyen Homestay in Hoi An.  Perfect location and it felt like home for my 12 days.  Hands down the best hotel I stayed in in Vietnam.

The clean modern bathroom had a great walk in shower.
The room was large, with a balcony and tv with lots of English channels.

The location was the best part.  My room overlooked a quiet street 2 blocks from the night market and a 5 minute walk to the heart of the old town.

After Hanoi, the quiet streets were lovely.

Hoi An is filled with outdoor cafes.

My hotel was on a tiny island across the river from the main part of Hoi An.

The main street of the island (An Hoi) facing Hoi An.

These ladies were always ready to take tourists for a boat ride.

There are many stories about why the boats all have eyes painted on their bows.  All are related to catching more fish and bringing the fishermen safely home.

The main bridge from the island to Hoi An.

I was having my first meal in Hoi An on a main road near the river.  These people were talking and eating next door.  This was part of a funeral celebration.  The woman in white with her back to the camera is one of the deceased's family.

At the bridge they make buying a ticket seem like a requirement to entering Hoi An.  It's actually not but if my donation helps keep the city this beautiful, it was worth it.

Late afternoon sun made the colors especially vibrant.

This was the slow season and it was a bit crowded.  I'm glad I didn't go at Christmas as first planned.  It would have been cold and crowded.

Hoi An is known for it's lanterns.  What surprised me is that most are hung outdoors, rain and shine.  They are made of silk and bamboo and seem to hold up remarkably well.

The side of the island opposite Hoi An is much quieter.

Fishing boats and a small ferry dock there.

I liked the creative table base at this outdoor cafe.  Recognize the repurposed item?

Noodles, rice and herbs drying in baskets on the street were a common sight.

I found a wonderful spa just a few blocks from my hotel.  The owner, who also runs a tour company, spoke English well.  We talked every day.

I have no idea what this sign says but had great fun making up possible translations.  "Go West, Young Man!", "Look, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's....a tourist!"

No traffic jams here.

Old ladies (about my age) carried these baskets of fruit around the main bridge.  They'd ask you to take their picture then ask for money.  They asked every time I saw them.  They kept telling me they were hungry and had no food.  They were carrying food.

The very persistent ladies. 

This boat seemed to be docked purely for photos by tourists.

One of the ladies trying to make a buck.

I walked instead.

Lunch for the locals.  I really don't get those stools.

Famous bridge with beautiful details.

My kind of motor bike.

This dish is called White Rose and is famous in Hoi An.  It's a kind of tasty shrimp dumpling.

The dragon was lit up at sunset.

Every evening I strolled down to the main bridge to Hoi An.  There were lots of tourists and locals selling candles that could be lit and floated down the river on small paper "boats".  It was touristy - and fun.

The whole town is lit by lanterns every night.

Many engaged couples take photos around Hoi An.  This couple took a boat out into the river to have their photo taken with the candles.

Yes, I brought home lanterns.

I loved these dumplings at the Red Gecko.  Nice, casual restaurant with a lovely owner and her niece who served tables. The topping on these shrimp dumplings included chilies and pineapple.

If I'd had more room in my luggage a couple of these lights would have come home with me, too.

I took a break from iced coffee to try fresh beer.  It's made each day and leftovers are tossed at night.  It's cheap.  And wasn't worth having twice.

Thanks goodness - pagodas were never far away.

One of the engaged couples with their entourage (some had makeup/hair people along with multiple photographers) having photos taken.  It was not unusual to have a dozen couples lining up for the best shot.

This tea shop is run by deaf employees.  It is quiet, peaceful and a lovely place to spend some time.

No worries about communication.

The setting and service were impeccable.

Every evening my neighbors (who lived near my hotel) pushed their carts down to the main street to set up for the night market.

I was having lunch at the Red Gecko one afternoon when it started pouring.  It wasn't rainy season but poured for several days.

The rain did not stop the busloads of tourists.

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