Day 6 -August 9th
After arriving in Hoi An , myself ,Lil and Annette went down to one of the small seafood restaurants (“Mama Ly” = Mama’s Pot )just down the beach. When we walked in we were a little wary of how things might be .The menu wasn’t very big ; anyway we asked t he waitress what does she recommend and she said “grilled fish” . This didn’t sound very exciting but Lil and I ordered the grilled fish. We were then met by the usual hawkers which we bought from only for the waitress to reappear selling her wares ! When the food arrived it was a butterflied whole fish on a plate with all sorts of herbs on top of it – it was absolutely delicious – when there is not much no the menu in Vietnam they do it well !! So 2 grilled fish 2 salads 2 * 500mls beer , couple of other drinks – 420000- VND = less than 21 Australian dollars .
In the morning finally I was able to go for a run , doing 4 k’s along the beach. There was a guy in front of the next resort with a bullock towing a plank of wood to smooth the sand . An English speaking guy stopped me to help one of the locals pull his fishing vessel up the sand . I suggested we emptied the water out first but he said no ,no ! A run was followed by a swim in the sea south to the next resort and back followed by a swim in the pool – which is 140 metres in total length !
After a superb buffet breakfast we caught the shuttle in to town and right where we were dropped was Viettown silk. The girls showed us through and we were educated on the process – > Hoi An is after all the Eastern termination of the Silk Road. She showed us the silk worms feeding on the mulberry leaves. The pupae are two natural colours – white and yellow. One kilometre of ultrathin silk thread can be extracted from one pupa . The thread from about 25 pupae are brought up into a machine to make the final thread. 1500 of these are these are thaen connected into the weaver to create the silk fabric , after they have been dyed to the desired colour. Of course after that we were escorted into their shop.
I normally hate shopping but I organised a suit with an extra pair of at trousers and a couple of shirts all custom fitted for under $400. The girls ordered clothes as well. We were to come back the following day for the final fitting.
Following this we walked over the river passing several shoe stores on the way. We sat up stairs at a small restaurant. Of course I ordered the grilled fish – which this time was whole grilled with a stuffing similar to the previous night and was again delicious. The owner had a bit of trade in ornaments and money exchange and I think my purchase for 10 Australian dollars was expensive . We stopped at the shoe store and bought shoes . Again ordering a custom pair of black leather shoes which again were to be picked up the next day.
In the afternoon it was more swimming for me in both sea and pool. I figured 4 laps , .5 km ,was worth a Gin and Tonic at the poolside bar. For dinner we booked a recommended restaurant – the “Mermaid” -apparently the first one in Hoi An. It was busy despite this being the quiet season. Their specialty is pork stuffed squid. I had the hotpot which was superb also – just one warning – if there is a whole small chilli in the hot pot leave it there – DO NOT attempt to eat it !!!!
Day 5 -August 8th
We were in for another early start in Hue with are tour guide Tam arriving at 0715. This time it was a motorcycle tour of the district with us riding as pillion passengers – not something I have done before. Clearly we were very trusting ,letting these strangers ride us through the disorganised Vietnam traffic chaos. First stop was the Citadel and the Emperor’s Forbidden Purple City . This was all built in the early 1800’s over about 30 years . Its perimeter walls measure 11km . It is so large that the Americans built a landing strip inside it .The North Vietnamese later took it over and housed 45000 troops here and the Americans bombed it so it suffered heavy damages. It is all gradually being restored.It was the residence of the King till 1945 when the King of the day left for France at the start of the first IndoChina war.
After this we went to vist the largest Pagoda in Hue and then we boarded a small boat for a tour of the Perfume River .Aboard of course there was a Vietnamese girl selling here wares of fabric paintings and clothes and drinks -fortunately. As we got off the boat on our way back to the bikes – I stepped on what I thought were pavers -except they were some guy’s bricks drying in the sun ; at which he suddenly arose from his hammock ! Fortunately Tam was able to soothe the waters.
From there it was on to see Te Ducs tomb .Interestingly he was never buried in his tomb which the French found out when they raided it . Those with knowledge of his burial grounds were then either beheaded or died mysterious deaths( arsenic poisoning I believe ) !
After an off road tour through one of the cemeteries we arrived at a Buddhist nunnery where we were served a traditional Buddhist/Vegan lunch ( yum yum) .
We were then taken back to the Asia Hotel ,lead by our amusing guide Tam .
In the afternoon we were met by another tour guide , Quoc – pronounced Wuk – for our drive to Hoi An.
Halfway along we stopped in Da Nang at Marble mountain – where they produce goods carved from he local marble.
Finally we arrived in Hoi An at the Golden Sands – paradise by the sea !
Day 4 – 7th August
The day started pleasantly enough on board Paloma with breakfast followed by a tender ride to the “Amazing Cave” . The cave has three chambers and is over a Hectare in total size. While we had lunch back on board Paloma headed back to the Halong Bay port , into an increasing wind and sea. After disembarking it was back on the bus to Hanoi. Shortly after that it was onto another bus for the airport. It was a tiring day of travel as it turned out. On checking in at the airport we were to discover my ticket was not valid due to an incorrect spelling of my name ! After purchasing a new ticket , the price of which our tour agent would later refund , we were on our way. On arriving at Hue we were met by our driver for the short trip to the Asia hotel . Arriving late at night 3/4 of our party were still hungry so we went to the “Missy Roo” cafe for spring rolls and drinks. The tropics are very pleasant at night.