The ride from Hanoi to Hoi An could of been long and boring however, I’ll never know that experience due to the new friends I met along the way. Vilmos and Zsuzsanna had an open door and was game for sharing snacks and travel stories. After hours of eye opening and heart stimulating conversation (thanks again for the new perspective) it was time for rest before we were booted off the train in central Vietnam.
*They put me in their blog too! Check out the photos and tell me what it says (if you can read Hungarian) at http://rajdakaland.blogspot.jp/
Next stop Hoi An, a quaint old town that used to be Vietnam’s most important port and trading post with China. I’ve been told you can cover the entire town on foot in a day and still have time to snag a coffee. Sounds perfect after the chaos Hanoi had offered. Lets see!
When you walk along the rivers edge, you’ll see locals paddling away while the old boats sit and look pretty. It definitely adds a unique feel to this already small town. It makes me wonder if these waters could talk…
Lining the river are markets and shops with local owners doing their very best to make a sell. Their favorite conversation starter is “Where are you from?”. For my own entertainment and hopefully there’s as well, I started answering differently every time. “My mom said the moon, but I don’t believe her” or “I don’t remember… where are you from?”. I found the more bizzare of an answer the bigger the smile I got in return. This is either because they thought is was funny, I was out of my mind or maybe they just had absolutely no idea what I was saying.
Curiosity hits… What’s the reason behind the locals overly aggressive way of trying to get a sale? They would physically grab my arm and begin to guide me in the direction of their shop. After I’d deliver several “no thank you’s” with a bow, they’d keep trying and when the point was finally received that I was not interested, they’d give a disturbing frown almost to a pout. A final “no thank you” would end it and they’d turn away with a snarl.
Although I didn’t appreciate this whatsoever, it just makes me ponder what has been the progression or experiences to get them to act in such behavior? Was it taught, learned through example or just a part of the culture? Are they ashamed or proud, possibly unaware of the environment that it creates? I wonder what it was like here 50, 30 or even just 10 years ago…
Once you’ve made your way through the “assertive” saleswomen, you can begin to branch off and see other stores, restaurants and old buildings. Although its not my thing, I dare not forget to mention (for all my fashionistas) that Hoi An also has over 400 tailors within the city limits. Need a dress, suit or pants? Whatever you fancy they’ll measure you, make it and have it ready within 24 hours.
A quick pit stop for a street food snack brings me a mung bean patty and a dish that tasted like a rice gelatin substance with vegetable soup and topped with chili sauce and fried onions. What was it really? I have no idea.
Ooh, creative photo time! Amazing what a tiny camera effect can do to an image.
As the day progressed, the clouds began to cover and within moments we were showered with unforgiving rain. Little did I know, this was the calming before the typhoon heading in our direction. I suppose my lack of that information was bliss as I splashed around the wet city.
Evening rolled around and the rain hadn’t only opened the door but invited itself in with no intention on leaving. As I was heading back to my hostel, I heard “I know you!” On a bike rolls up Alex, the friendly German who I shared a cab ride with from the airport! A chat in the rain? Don’t mind if I do! We geared up appropriately and headed out for an adventure in the storm.
We ended up at Cafe 19, a small little spot that offered $0.25 beers and a local dish called White Rose (which is like a dumpling) that we were both eager to try. Perfect!
This menu made us chuckle, not that it was so clear in regards to pork or beef, but the proportion of the two animals.
An early rise for me was welcomed with a complimentary breakfast, a choice of coffee, juice, eggs and veggies or bread. Yes please! I went with a mushroom and tomato omelette, raw veggies and a ginger-lime juice that was so fresh there were chunks of ginger and lime pulp!
Dear Vietnam, my journey here was short and I may need more time in your country-side to truly appreciate all that you have to offer. Until then, thank you for the warm soup, yogurt coffee and new friends!
Next stop, Thailand!