Monday, October 8, 2007

Hoi An

We arrived in Hoi An in the evening and headed for the downtown area immediately. We were trying to make up for lost time. After a couple of hours of walking, came to realize we saw most of it, granted it was in the evening but gave us an idea that we are fine with our timing while we are in Hoi An. We opted for dinner at a nice little restaurant by the water and a couple of appetizers and wine. We received the bill, and saw the look on Mark's face. The one that says, I can't believe it costs this much for 2 appetizers and wine. The bill still came out to $34. 00, which is quite a lot considering where we were, and the prices in Hanoi were less expensive. It caught us off guard.

Here the streets are lined with shops, more shops and even more shops. This is a shoppers paradise, shoes, suits, and artwork. Pretty much anything you may want. Hoi An, is known for their tailors dating back centuries, so if anyone wants anything made, they will certainly do it for you quickly and fairly inexpensively, depending on your bartering skills. In fact, we met a gal from Europe who had just finished bartering for her drugs at the pharmacy. You can pay in either Dong or USD. The first price that they will quote will be in USD. Mark had to keep asking the price everytime in Dong.

The shop keepers stand or sit outside waiting for the tourists, where they will ask you to coma and visit their shop. "Suits made in a day. "Com and buy something." "Good deals for you". Some may see you stealing a glance across the street, and they will shout for you to come and see their store. They will come over while you are eating, drinking trying to sell you something and in some cases send their young children over, watching them, hoping someone will buy something. They are quite aggressive, considering Vietnam only opened the doors to tourists since 1995. We were told by our guide that there will be approx 25 new resorts coming in the next 10 -15 years, starting from De Nang to Hoi An. I made a comment to Mark, that I can't even imagine what this place would be like in the next 5 years, let alone in 15 years.

The next day, after our tour of My Son, we had lunch and our guide took us on a walking tour of Hoi An, showing us the Japanese Covered Bridge, which is one of the main sites to see here, along with a Vietnamese tube house, a Chinese temple, and then to a craft market, where they wanted to sell more merchandise to you. The city itself is beautiful and quaint, with a nice harbour, so it is definitely worth it. You just have to smile and say no thanks.

We did notice that the buildings were covered in mold since they are in the central part of Vietnam, they tend to get hit with typhoons on a regular basis. It appears that no one worries about that here in Vietnam. Back in 1995, apparently the flood was so bad, it went up to the first floor of one of the restaurants. In the States, the building would be condemned, here it's a UNESCO site.

We had the rest of the day to wander and dinner was prearranged for us at 8pm. We had 5 hours to walk around. The city itself during the day, is extremely quaint and lovely, with bars and restaurants hugging the harbour. We took some time, to sit and have a beer, and watch the boats go by before dinner. It was quite lovely.

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