Hoi An – the city of lanterns and tailors

The bus arrived at 5 am in Hội An close to the water puppet theater which was only about 600 meters away from my hostel. So I took my luggage and walked to the Little Leo (4€/night in a 4-bed dorm). The gate was locked, but they let me in. I had to wait in the reception area, but I could use a bath room. Later when a few guests got up and had breakfast I joined them. I had to pay that morning, from the next day on breakfast was included. Hội An is famous for its tailors and I had planned to get a few things made. The Little Leo is a family owned business and everybody is helping. They are all super nice and friendly and try to help wherever they can. The rooms are nice with sinlge beds and a nice bathroom. There is only one woman though who speaks good English. She is giving tips what to do and see and to which tailor to go. You can rent bicycles for free; you just have to pay a deposit for the bike lock. With all that information I walked into town

to the Bao Diep – the tailor they recommended at the hostel. I spent a lot of time there looking through catalogues, deciding for patterns and fabrics and bargaining for a price. I decided for a suit, two blouses and a dress. Trang took measurements and then I took off to get the money. I didn’t bring much and also not my credit card because I thought you would pay in the end not in advance. Getting the money was harder than I thought since some of the ATMs in Hội An didn’t take my card, others had ridiculously high fees and/or super low limits. It took me ages to withdrawal enough to pay the tailor. It would have been cheaper and easier to just pay by card even with the credit card fees. I know that for next time! Once I had finally settled that matter, I walked into the old town and had a Hội An specialty for lunch – White Rosehoi-an-white-rose It is a kind of dumpling similar to Wantan but steamed not fried. Then I started to explore the Ancient City. Hội An is an UNESCO World heritage site since 1999 and a very well preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port. It used to be located on the Silk Road. You have to get a ticket to see the most famous sites (120000 Dong/ ~4,60€). It is valid for a couple of days. I checked out the covered Japanese Bridge.IMG_9045 (FILEminimizer) It is dated sometime between the 15th and 16th century. Later I walked along the river and through the small alleys.

I took a nap in the afternoon. Trang called and asked me to come to the tailor again for some fabrics. When I was done there she dropped me at the Night Market. I tried Rice Paper Pizza and a few other things.

There are lanterns everyway either for sale or as decoration. It is just beautiful!

The next day after breakfast I got one of the bikes and cycled about 3.5 km through rice fields with water buffalos to An Bang Beach. The route was really nice and I loved to see a local sleeping on his buffalo on the side of the road. Unfortunately he just got up when I wanted to take a picture.

The beach itself was rather touristy; you couldn’t even park your bike anywhere for free. But most places where content if you bought something to drink at their place and then you could leave the bike. A coconut there was anyway cheaper than directly at the beach. There were also millions of sunbed renters there, but there was enough space between water and sunbeds to just put your sarong in the sand.

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An Bang Beach

In the afternoon I had an appointment for the first fitting at the tailor. I had lunch and walked around the city

until I had to be back 2 hours later for the second fitting. At the hostel they had some private celebration during the day and they asked us to not be home during the day, but they invited us for dinner in the evening instead. Most guests didn’t really pay attention when she invited us and arrived late. We waited for 1.5 hours then we started. They had put so much food on the table! Everything was vegetarian and super delicious! It was really nice!

After dinner I had to go to the tailor again. The suit and the two blouses were perfect now and I was super happy with them!

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my new suit

The dress didn’t fit very well though unfortunately, I was not content at all with it. The next day the weather was a bit strange and I was rather unmotivated to explore. So I worked on my blog for a couple of hours and went for lunch with a Portuguese girl from the hostel. We went to Café 43 and had Cao Lau – another Hội An specialty.

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Cao Lau and Bia hoi @ Café43

It was really yummy. With the food I had Bia hơi. This is a type of draught beer popular in Vietnam. It is a very light and refreshing lager that is brewed daily and not lasting for a long time, so it has to be consumed within the day. Bia hơi production is informal and not monitored by any health agency. It costs only about 20 cents per glass. In the afternoon I took a bicycle again and drove to another beach – the Cua Dai Beach. It was about double as far as the other beach, but the beach was not very nice. The route was though.

On my way back I bought a few snacks in a Mini Mart. Only about 100-200 meters away from my hostel I had an accident on a very busy street. A motorbike crashed into me. We were both lying on the street. Astonishingly I had very few abrasions (the guy from the motorbike looked worth) but I had a pretty bad concussion of my tail bone and my lower back hurt like crazy. I was shaking all over. I could hardly walk or sit anymore. The handlebar and the fender of my bike were deformed pretty badly and it was generally rather crooked. Great – that’s what you need on a holiday! But anyway, I think I was quite lucky, it could have been much worse! Some people helped us to collect ourselves and our stuff and off we went everyone in another direction. Back at the hostel I first had a shower and examined the damage on my body. I rested a bit and stretched my muscles that were super stiff from the impact. Than I had an internal debate with myself if I should rather walk or conquer my fear and get back on a bike again. I decided for the latter, because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my time in Vietnam being afraid of riding a bike in this traffic. I went to the Café 41. This place got recommended to me by the girl I had lunch with. We wanted to go there originally, but it was closed when we got there. Now it was open.  I had an absolutely fantastic Cao Lau, spring rolls, another bia hơi and a fruit shake. All together for 88000 Dong (~3,35€) with a great and very friendly service.

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Cao Lau and Bia hoi @ Café41

I can only recommend this place! A British girl from the hostel walked bye and joined me, later two other people from the hostel came (an American guy and a Columbian girl). On the way to a bar we lost the two and the British girl was primarily occupied with her phone. So I talked to an Icelandic guy sitting next to me.

Quite early I was in way too much pain to enjoy sitting there and went back to the hostel. I took some pain killers and went to bed. The next morning I had to get up early in order to catch a bus. Since there were a few things I wanted to see between Hội An and Hué I had decided for a one way tour as means of transport. But about this you can read in the next blog post.

Hội An is a beautiful place with a lot of history. Especially in the dark it has a very special atmosphere with all the lit lanterns in the Ancient City. I loved just to walk around, having a drink or some delicious food (I enjoyed the food in Hội An the most in all Vietnam), watch people and just be. There are also nice routes to cycle, the beaches are ok, people very friendly and just generally a nice flair. I could have stayed longer and if I ever get back to Vietnam I will definitely come again to Hội An.

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