Everyone had told us that a stop in Hoi An was a must during our trip in Vietnam and it wasn’t long until we understood why. Quaint pedestrianised streets lined with shops that have yellow painted facades and tiled rooves make up the old town which sits on the river bank. This town was a far cry from the manic gritty streets of Hanoi, and whilst I had absolutely loved Hanoi I was up for embracing the slightly more laid-back vibe I felt from Hoi An.
We wandered around, stopping for lunch, before being handed a flyer for a charity guitar concert in a nearby cafe. We followed the map on the back of the flyer which was completely wrong until finding the students that had originally given it to us again and asking them to take us there. We were soon glad we had made the effort to find it as the cafe was empty apart from about ten anxious organisers and the lad waiting to play his guitar. We got a few drinks and he started to play and a couple of the girls took turns singing. They were actually really good and as the music started playing people soon came in to listen. Nathan, who we had met on the Ha Long boat trip came to meet us and after a couple of hours we left to meet Irene and Chris to have dinner together.
Nathan took charge of the ordering at the table and an endless amount of food seemed to be brought out, letting us taste all the local delicacies including wanton and white rose. After dinner we were led by a promoter to the very un-Vietnamese Mr Bean bar where we enjoyed a never ending happy hour and watched Nathan getting drunker and drunker on Long Island iced teas. The night ended with a couple of songs on the dance floor before Nathan knocked a child over with his bum and we decided to call it a night.
The next morning we had a delightful breakfast and borrowed bikes to cycle to the nearby beach, An Bang. The roads were slightly crazy but we got there safe and sound to enjoy the sea and sand. The waves were incredibly choppy and the wind was pretty strong, but not strong enough to deter us from lying on the warm sand and listening to the tide. We had a lovely seafood lunch with scallops and mango salad, before the longest game of pool ever, due to my inability to pot a single ball, and cycling back to town.
We spent the late afternoon exploring and appreciating the old town once again, especially as darkness fell and the lanterns in the streets lit up. The little wooden boats on the river carried lanterns over the water as paper ones with candles in floated downstream. When we blocked out the throng of tourists that seemed to surround us at every turn, it was really quite magical. The night market was especially lively too and sold the usual souvenirs at incredibly inflated prices, although we did have some fun with successful bartering for a couple of pairs of earrings. We headed back to our hotel after dinner, which had been the most lavish and expensive yet although I wouldn’t say the best! We couldn’t believe that it was time to pack our bags again, check out of another hotel in the morning and hit the road once more. It went without saying that Hoi An had definitely been a charming little place that we wouldn’t be forgetting any time soon.