Monday, 21 March 2011

I love this country

Monday 21st March 2011

MP3 track of the day: The Importance of being Idle - Oasis

Weather: Very hot, yet there's a gentle, cooling, breeze making it's way off the river and through the narrow streets of Hoi An.


8am came and I just couldn't get back to sleep, though I had snoozed for almost ten hours. Since early February I have been getting up rather early and so, I think, my body is well and truly stuck within that routine. Once up I had a long shower. As breakfast isn't included I went out into town; I knew where I wanted to go.

Within my guidebook a restaurant was recommended for it's cakes. Having 'Blue Pumpkin' withdrawal symptoms I went to investigate; as I peered through the glass counter the cakes certainly looked good however it was too early for any heavy chocolate cake. I opted for a light cheesecake and a hot chocolate. Both were expensive, however both were mouth watering. Feeling content I paid and walked back towards my hostel. Having found, sampled and concluded about these cakes it now presented me with a problem. I know that I will want to go back, but it is rather expensive. I've been told that the food in Hoi An is fantastic and so far I would agree. I got back to my hostel where I got out my computer (to find out that we are basically at war with Libya) to upload hundreds of photos from the past few days.

By midday I put my computer away and headed out into the town. For the next three hours I walked around and eat lunch. As I had seen most of the center I decided to walk across a bridge to the other side of the river. The 'other side'; every map you see, or receive, shows the ancient town center of Hoi An and then stops at the riverfront. It shows where the bridges cross the river but not what's on the 'other side'. It's like the Vietnamese tourist authorities don't want you to venture forth. Standing on the riverfront I looked across to the 'other side' and it looked rather pleasant, just a mirror image of the what I had already seen. I started to walk across this motorbike / pedestrian bridge, fully expecting there to be a glass screen blocking my path. There was not. The bridge was very beautiful; it had Chinese lanterns hanging down from the railings and the floor looked like it was made out of marble.

I made it to 'the other side'. After having lunch (which was cheaper, but just as nice, as eating in the old center itself) I went to have a wonder around starting with the riverfront. The sky was a beautiful light-blue colour and this allowed me to get a few good photos. I then went deeper into the urban area to find a similar sort of layout as the town center. Three main roads running horizontally with smaller streets cutting through vertically. After the three main roads was yet another riverfront. It all seemed a little bizarre, like a mirror image of the town itself. The main difference between the two sides was that this one was more residential. After looking around I headed back into the town center for yet more wonderings.

Now you might think that, walking down the same roads, would start to get a little bland ... but it didn't. The atmosphere here is lovely and it's a pleasure just to stroll leisurely through town, again, looking at the yellow buildings and goods on sale. I met up, briefly, with the three girls from London before taking more photographs focusing on 'urban settings'. For me Vietnam just gets better and better; Hoi An is starting to become my favorite place within South East Asia. But there's nothing to do – I hear you cry. Well actually there's quite a bit to do, it's just I don't fancy most of it. There are two beaches within a short taxi ride away, you can purchase a 'Hoi An attraction pass' and look around the temples and merchant houses. There's walking around the town itself, a day trip to 'My Son' temple and of course there's shopping that must be done. Hoi An's a big tourist attraction (the hotels are always full) however it doesn't feel like it. It's bizarre but, for such a small place with lots of people, it's very quite. If someone said to me that, for their annual weeks holidays, they were going to go to Hoi An I would tell them that they had made a great choice. It's not all 'cake and cream' though; I'm still getting bombarded by motorbike offers. The Vietnamese riders are canny; they trying to keep you talking buy, not only asking if you want a motorbike ride, but where you are from. I've said the UK so many times that I'm now telling them I'm from Uzbekistan … or Mars.

I would have walked around for longer however it was very hot and my feet started to hurt. I retired to my hostel to pick-up my laundry, upload my photos and read my book. I met Kim at 7:30pm; we booked ourselves onto a tour of 'My Son' for tomorrow and then went for something to eat. We had already decided that, tonight, we would dine along the riverfront. We walked through the usual narrow alleyways until we hit the water. A full moon was out and the area was stunningly beautiful. Red Chinese lanterns hug from many of the old French colonial buildings and different coloured lanterns were positioned across the main bridge. As I ate I made a decision that, tomorrow night, I'll be back to take some photos.

So today has been a lovely, relaxing, day. Tomorrow I'll get up early to visit the 'My Son' temple before booking my coach ticket, to Hue, for the following day. I also need to make sure that I book accommodation as Hue gets quite busy.

Toodle Pip!

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