Hoi An, Vietnam - a UNESCO listed city, stunning countryside, gentle people. Fantastic food, a French influence, unique buildings, shopping, rivers, beaches and gentle rice paddies. What is not to love here?
Here are some things I found in a recent visit, beyond those listed in the guidebooks.
|A river runs through it|
The Thu Bon River runs through the centre of Hoi An dividing the Old Town from newer developments. Yet the countryside itself is full of rivers and waterways - they are life blood of this area, which has for centuries used them for trading.
|Basket boats near China Beach|
China Beach was a popular retreat for Allied soldiers during the Vietnam War. These large baskets are traditional fishing boats - the shape meant they were not classified as boats, and so the owners avoid paying tax. (As a side note, I found the beaches a bit boring. But then I'm Australian, and incredibly spoilt in that way.)
|Cross me if you dare!|
Escape to the countryside, away from the crowds of tourists. Rice paddies stretch in all directions, fed by the many rivers. Remarkably, our Vespas made it safely across.
|Don't forget to look at the buildings|
The colours may seem faded, but the buildings in Hoi An have a charm all their own, with their cross between traditional styles and the influence of many visitors - the Japanese, Dutch and French, to name a few. When walking through Hoi An, don't forget to look around you.
|Venture out before sunrise|
Do the unexpected. Head out before dawn with the fisherman and watch how hard these men and women work. Visit a market, buy something fresh for breakfast, and enjoy it back on the boat (our captain cooked it for us - spring rolls, fresh baby tuna, morning glory, squid. Delicious.
|How breakfast began|
This was how our breakfast began - in the markets. We didn't have the baby crab, but there's always next time.
|A vegetable plot near Hoi An|
The surrounding countryside is filled with communal vegetable plots. Lush and green, incredibly fertile, they are an inspiration to go back home and start gardening.
|The lanterns of Hoi An|
Don't forget to explore Hoi An at night - the town is famous for her lanterns. I dare you to try and leave without buying a few!
|Busy repairing my husbands pants|
The clothes and fabric can be a tad overwhelming - the hawkers are remarkably aggressive - but if you're brave enough to venture inside, look out for this lady who does repairs.
Finally, don't forget the coffee. The best coffee I had was sitting at a roadside stall, watching the world go by. It is strong but sweet, for it is laced with condensed milk.
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