Although getting our rather heavy backpacks to the bus pick up point took something of a Herculean effort, the actual transfer to Hoi An was the easiest so far. The distance between the two towns is not that great and the bus made it in good time, one of the bridges along the way was bedecked in a huge yellow dragon motif which looked really cool. From Hoi An bus station it was actually quite easy finding our digs even if it did involve another small trek once again involving our backpacks – but when you live like a snail these are some of the things which go with the territory!
Our new ‘home’, the Arecca Homestay, was a very nice little hotel and our room was quite a big one so we dropped our stuff off and as we were still feeling quite perky we went for a nosey about. Hoi An pitches itself as being an historic town and to be fair it does have a charm all of its own. It has a river that runs through it but the major part of the town is on the bank we were staying on. It was a bit of a walk from our new abode to the town proper but along the way we picked up a map so were ready to rock and roll. The buildings as you near the river come in many shades of cream, orange and yellow and look really cool as they are adorned with both shutters and old people in equal proportions.
We saw the Japanese style covered bridge but at this stage did not have a good look around as the crowds around it were making getting there impossible. Instead we popped into one of the buildings which had some traditional music going on. There was a band all playing authentic instruments and ladies singing. One of the ladies I can only assume was a star performer as she both sang and played the lead guitar or sitar looking thing on her lap. The sound she was making was all quivery and like nothing I had heard in my life before. The notes she was hitting did not really strike a chord with myself but the place was packed and as there were dancers as well – all moving and a grooving, it was all very entertaining. One of the guys, who was playing a square guitar could have been a guitarist playing anywhere in the world, he just had that cool look of someone who knows their craft and goes about it with the minimum amount of fuss.
From the house of music we simply milled about, there is so much to see and some of the best stuff is down the alleys of the town centre, so if in doubt here try to get lost! Some of the buildings almost have a Spanish feel to them possibly because of the shutters on the windows. We thought we might now have a look at the Japanese Bridge and as we reached the river on the way we came across the most extraordinary sight. We were nearly there when we saw a good dozen or so Chinese ladies all in the local Cyclos and were all lined up for a photoshoot, so I took a photo too as it looked like some weird kind of race about to embark.
Some of the cyclists with the slimmer passengers you could see really fancied their chances of surviving the course whereas one or two of the others with those Chinese who had eaten an extra bowl of noodles or three were already looking like beaten men … lol!
The riverside area around the bridge was very interesting and the Bridge itself was still packed but still worth the look. The whole of the inside was decked out in mahogany and contained small shrines at either ends. on the other side of the bridge were various stalls and a house to show some of the traditional craft making skills.
In there were examples of the lacquer work and tapestry as well as the carvings which are so intricate all of which were very admirable. After this we decided that we had earnt a light libation so popped along to one of the cafes on the river front and treat ourselves to a beer or two. It was whilst drinking that we hit upon the idea of possibly taking a cookery class as we enjoyed the Vietnamese food so much.
Once these momentous decisions had been made we went back to the hotel for a quick sleep before returning out again on the night. When we first came out it seemed like the place had been set up for some kind of party but it did not seem like things were going on so we settled in at a restaurant and got talking to a couple of lads from the UK who were travelling about Vietnam on motorbikes. One of their party had already had to go home because of an accident and another followed suit at the same time. They still thought it was the best place in the world though and we had a great night swapping stories of our travels before it was time for us to get back to our room. Along the way we saw a sign which informed us that a party had indeed been going on and that we had managed to miss it – Doh!