Hoi An Ancient Town
Late evening, we cycled to the Hoi An Ancient town to check out the Night Market. The old town is simply enchanting with its timber frame yellow buildings. A river passes through the town and there are beautifully lit up houses/cafes on both sides of the river. The Night Market was mostly selling souvenirs, and jewelry. There was a row of shops selling silk lanterns that Hoi An is famous for. The whole atmosphere feels magical.We then had dinner in one of the restaurants along the river. We gave some complex instructions to the waiter about how to prepare our food. He thankfully followed them to the t and for a change we enjoyed spicy yummy veg food.Day 7: Hoi An
An Bang Beach
After resting for some time at the hotel, we took a cab to An Bang Beach, about 5km from Hoi An. It seemed like everyone in Hoi An has descended there. Considering the low season and how small the town is had not expected to see such huge crowds. It is a mystery how the beach was still so clean. Unless you are really keen on beaches, would recommend tourists to avoid An Bang.
Japanese Covered Bridge
Another really good outing is the Hoi An countryside bicycle tour, which shows you another side to the town, including the beautiful Japanese Covered Bridge where the Quiet American (starring Michael Caine) was filmed. Every second shop is a tailor, so this is definitely the place to refresh your wardrobe. Yaly tailors is by far the best and there is a reason why they are more expensive than the others: they only promise what they can actually deliver! The end results are excellent. It’s a good idea to take pictures of dresses or suits with you. The more information you give them, the better.Hoi An really comes to life at night. The lantern-lined streets look magical. There are so many good restaurants, but two of my favorites were Mango Mango (45 Nguyen Phuc Chu +845103911863) and Cargo Bar. If you want somewhere cool, but fun for just a drink, then heads to Q Bar (94 Nguyen Thai Hoc, +845103911964).
Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese Bridge is the most famous symbol of Hoi An. It was built in 16th century by Japanese community to create a link with the Chinese on the other side of the stream. It is a covered bridge and inside there is a temple dedicated to God of Weather. The bridge is quiet beautiful and should not be missed on a trip to Hoi An.We then visited a couple of cultural showrooms showcasing local embroidery work and silkworm breeding. Our last stop was central market - it is an authentic market visited by both locals and tourists. On sale is more of regular stuff like grocery, utensils, spices, fruits/vegetables , fish etc. There were a number of small stalls there , all pushing there wares on us quiet hard. We were glad of our guide's help - she helped us buy Vietnamese Coffee, coffee filter and rice paper (used for making Vietnamese spring rolls), all at a very reasonable price. Hoi An is known for its fine tailoring. There are a number of tailors who can make custom tailored suits, dresses, shirts etc.
Mỹ Sơn comprises of a cluster of Hindu Temples built during the 4-16 AD by the Champa King. It is purely for religious use and unfortunately, many of the structures were demolished during the Vietnam. With aids from the Italians, a few were being reconstructed. Visiting the site, which consisted of an indoor museum, one marvels at the architectural brilliance of the people at that time.
Cham Island Diving Center
Two flights two days later left me walking a little wobbly as I nervously handed over my passport at Bangkok passport control! As for the Diving… The prestigious, I use that term loosely, Cham Island Diving centre took me to, well, Cham Island. As beautiful as the sparse reef and clientele were, the guides and safety standards left a lot to be desired. Before I got on the boat that morning, no one had checked my dive creds, only our word. Which is fine, if you say you can dive and you can’t, it’ll become pretty obvious when you arse up a buddy check or breath from the wrong regulator. I can dive, I am also qualified to drift dive as an advanced open water diver, *salutes PADI. The thing about a strong drift dive is that if you don’t understand the basic idea of staying close to the bottom where the current is weaker, you may well lose your dive group. Which is pretty dangerous, in case that wasn’t obvious. Han, from Bulgaria, ended up thirty meters from the island. As the numbers of ours, and other groups, dwindled, we rose to the surface early. While Han was located my buddy and I were left to cling on to a large barnacle covered buoy and await the dive boat’s arrival. I will concede that they stuck to their duties in getting us all safely out of the sea, but they could have easily avoided losing clients and their fins by, A, ensuring we were all qualified to drift dive. B, actually checking that we were all genuinely certified to the right standard with experience in drift dives, C, taking us to a site with better conditions.
Phung Hung Old House
Next we visited couple of ancient houses - Tan Ky Ancient House and Phung Hung Ancient House. Tan Ky was built around two hundred years ago as home of a Vietnamese merchant. It is a well preserved house with the original interiors and furniture kept almost intact. Phung Hung is a two-storied house built in 18th century. The house has kept many old documents and handicrafts reflecting the culture and tradition of Vietnam. The architecture of both the houses reflects influence of three cultures- Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese.