Where To? Vietnam
How long? 3 Weeks
Status: How can so much beauty exist where so much destruction has taken place?
Hội An & Mỹ Sơn
Hội An, I could say so much about Hội An!
Arriving after an overnight bus in a location around 15 minutes from the centre, I was met by a man selling his homestay which was closer to the centre. Confused and groggy eyed, I agreed to ride with him on the back of his motorbike to check it out and see if I wanted to stay.
The homestay (more a hotel or guesthouse) was lovely but pricey and I failed to convince him to lower his price so I left having used his wifi to find a cheaper hostel.
On route to this hostel, many men on motorbikes tried to offer me rides to other nearby hostels but I declined determined to find this one from booking.com. I never found it, as I was picked up by a woman only 5 minutes from my destination also selling a homestay who managed to convince me to come and check it out. She offered me a room at the same rate as the hostel I was looking for and threw in a free breakfast (which I didn’t actually take advantage of), after viewing the room, I realised that the three bed would be shared with at least one – a German man who immediately was came to be a friend, Lars. I made a quick assessment and decided he wasn’t a serial killer so agreed to stay and we were joined shortly after by a Brazilian named Wallace. You will hear a lot more about Wallace later.
Lars and I decided to go and explore – we made the mistake of walking all the way to the ancient town rather than make use of the free bicycle hire our homestay offered us.
From locals selling fruit in baskets that they slung either side of their shoulder, to markets selling pungent fish, colourful lanterns lining the streets, temples decorated with dragons and tailors ready to make whatever you ask for, Hội An quickly became my favourite place.
Hội An had more to offer than just a beautifully quaint old town, there was also a beach to explore and I was ready to swim after my long walk. I picked up a bicycle for the first time in 15 years and hoped the skill was still with me. At the same time, I was taking in some amazing views. A buffalo bathed himself in a pool of water surrounded by rice crops, a man submerged himself in a river as he worked on one of his boats, cactus and aloe vera plants lined the roads as the ground turned to sand reminding us that we were soon approaching the beach.
Many bikes lined the fences as we approached and we added ours to the gaps, stores were selling souvenirs and inflatables and restaurants invited us to eat with an ocean view offering us a free deck chair on the beach as a reward. We accepted.
I spotted round boats on the sand, these are traditional methods of transportation where the local stands in this basket-like boat and uses a long paddle to steer and move the boat.
Furthermore, on returning that evening, the old town was at least 10 times more beautiful as the lanterns that earlier lined the streets were all lit up. Crowds swarmed over the bridge and the river beneath was also lit with floating lanterns. Picture the exact scene from the Disney movie ‘tangled’ when she’s on the boat and the lanterns illuminate the water – magical!
A couple were getting married on the river and Wallace, Lars and I decided to join in on a romantic boat ride ourselves… why not?! And it was worth it! The waters were peaceful and incandescent.
When you float a lantern on the water, you have to make a wish. I’ve forgotten what mine was but I wouldn’t tell anyway! 😉
Wallace and I decided to go on a day trip to the famous historical holy land called Mỹ Sơn (pronounced Mi Son as Wallace frequently reminded me). But before we got there, we had a little treat of our own when our tour guide introduced himself and decided to give us a small introduction to Mỹ Sơn. I don’t think any amount of words can describe his dramatic voice but we worked hard to establish whether or not he was putting it on and discovered that was, actually, his real accent. If you are curious, you can listen to him here.
Mỹ Sơn is an ancient group of temples that were built thousands of years ago. Many people have tried to study the architecture but it is still a mystery how the people of old constructed the temples.
Unfortunately these temples are in ruins due to the American bombings in the Vietnam war as they discovered the Viet-Cong had been hiding there. Another example of war destroying the lives, history and culture of the people.
It was here in the heat of the sun as Wallace and I explored (I using Wallace as my personal photographer) that we met Brizz who would complete our travel trio and travel with us up to Hanoi.
Returning from our day trip, we discovered a note on the empty bed between each of ours left by Lars who had now moved on to his next location.
We also made plans to move on to our next location with our new friend, Brizz.
Next stop: Huế!