The doors of Vietnam

As done on previous occasions (click here and here to see), I photographed a small range of different doors in Vietnam. Most of the pictures are from Hoi An though, I have noticed that the further south I go the more difficult are the doors. Most people leave them open during the day so I included some gates.  Yours, Pollybert

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In Hoi An again

The most important appointment for the evening was the second fitting with the Bebe tailor. As soon as I had showered after my Cham Island adventure, I took one of the free bicycles from my Quynh Nahn Homestay and cycled into the old town. I also sent a text to Willemeijn, a Dutch girl I had met in my last day at the Farmstay.

At the tailor I had a big disappointment, I was just not happy with my clothes. I had told them that I wanted loose, wrinkle-free traveling clothes that were easy to wash and needed no ironing. Almost everything looked as if it was made to go to the office. That was definitely not what I ordered or what I had in mind. Because after a closer look the dress looked like the one they had drawn, I just hadn’t noticed that it would be so fitted. It didn’t match with what I had in mind. We settled on some alterations and in two cases that they would redo it. I was fine with that but couldn’t believe that it would work in the end. The next fitting would be at three in the afternoon the next day which didn’t leave a lot of time for other alterations if necessary.

When I was finally done I bicycled to Willemeijn’s tailor and together we went further into the old town. We had a lot of catching up to do since we had done different things in the meantime.

We went for dinner at a big place near the night market, recommend by Lonely Planet (which was noticeable by the crowds of Westerners) and I tried the Hoi An specialty of White Rose and pork with eggplant.

  

Willemeijn went for some rolls and stuffed squid.

  

Around 10pm we called it a night. I wanted to get an early start tomorrow to see the town in the morning. We agreed to meet at the beach around 1pm since her next fitting was at noon.

The next morning I bought my entrance ticket for the old town which included the visit of five sites. Hoi An town is on the Unesco World Heritage list and everything was within walking distance. I took once again the bicycle to drive the 7 minutes to the center and started with the Japanese Bridge.

  

After that I went to the Quang Trieu Assembly Hall next door and then just walked around the old town. There were almost no people at this early hour.


  

  

Walking further on the Tran Phu street I soon arrived at the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall.

  
     
  
  

I crossed the street and walked into the Quang Cong temple.

  
  

By then it was time for breakfast and especially a coffee. The central market was right across the street so I decided to stop there.

  

Thus refreshed I walked around the market. It was all around the Central Market Hall. Some stalls had their fares on the street, some were better equipped. Please note that each flower was separately wrapped.

  
  

The next stop was the Tran Family’s Chapel, not really a place where you could see a lot but it had a large shop in the back. The little I saw though looked old and interesting.

  
  

By then it had started to rain again (there had been a slight drizzle all morning) and I was ready for another coffee break. I had seen most of the things I had wanted to and it was only 10:30am. Definitely time to enjoy the rest of the morning before going to the beach. Here under the large trees I was save from the rain and away from the noise. I spent the rest of the morning reading and writing.

When my cell phone battery was almost dead I decided to head back to the Homestay. But on the way to the bicycle I passed the Sacred Temple.

  
  

Around noon time I took the bicycle again and drove to An Bang beach which was only 3km from my Homestay. I wore my bikini just in case, but while driving there the drizzle started again. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t go swimming in Hoi An. The rice fields on the way to looked lush and green while the beach was more a variation of grey.

  

So the bikini was maybe a tad too optimistic but I wanted to be prepared. We ended up having lunch there, pizza for Willemeijn and prawns for me.

After lunch we went back into town. I had my third fitting and was expecting the worst.

  

Maybe I should have done that from the beginning because all of a sudden the clothes were how I wanted them to be. A couple smaller alterations and I was done. So while waiting for them I drove around town and for some last impressions and snacks during daylight.

 

Back at the tailor everything was ready. While talking to my sales lady I picked up that they also do shipping. And since I wanted to send some things home, we agreed on my coming back with all the stuff and they would do it for me (and everything has arrived meanwhile).

Willemeijn picked me up from the tailor and together we drove into the old town. We settled on a small place next to the river and shared squid sweet and sour and another Hoi An specialty.

  

A last walk around the old town with a view on the Lantern Bridge and then it was time for us to say goodbye. She was flying out to Dalat the next morning while I was taking the train south to Quy Nhon. Yours, Pollybert

Hoi An

I got dropped off by the Easy Riders at the Quynh Nhan Homestay, my home for the next couple of days. I liked it instantly, maybe because the room was already cool?

Beth and I had agreed to meet for dinner, so I settled in and later asked the girl at the reception for directions and recommendations. Thus armed with information I met Bet at the corner from the home stay and we walked into town.

We stopped at Bebe Tailor and stayed there forever because I wanted to get some things made. And although I didn’t order anything on the first evening, we agreed on most of the details. I just never realized how much you need to clarify when you order clothes tailor-made.

Eventually we walked out of the shop, me with my work cut out for the night to think about how I wanted things done, and walked to the Thu Bon river. We were on the lookout for a street food place which Beth had found two years ago. She raved about it, telling me that she went back to this woman because her grilled chicken was the best. The chicken was on little skewers and served with rice paper, salad, herbs, rice patties and a rich sauce to dip it in. They were positively lovely and I was enchanted right away.

After dinner we walked back to the main part of the old town, to the Lantern Bridge. We needed to cross it to get to the night market. Not that there was anything new to buy, but it was wonderfully illuminated and just great to watch.

  
  

Lots of vendors everywhere who sold fresh fruit (also ones I didn’t know) and banana fritters. I was just too full to try them, but kept them in mind to taste another day.

  

The next morning we met already at 7:30. Beth had told me that the old part was wonderful in the mornings and I wanted to see it for myself. We were actually quite late already, lots of people around but way less than last night. We met again at the corner of the Lantern Bridge, then walked around for 5 minutes before sitting down for coffee. But the five minutes were enough to take these pictures.

  
  

We sat down underneath a large tree, just beside the Japanese covered Bridge which beckoned for a later visit.


In search of breakfast we passed a vendor selling sweet tofu which we had to try. It was good though that we took it as take-away since it was not to our taste.

  Just two blocks further we tried sticky rice with sugar and peanuts. We later saw that the rice was also available in savory version.

  

Shortly after 9am we were still waiting for our sunglasses shop to open. Last night we had learned that optical sunglasses were cheap and quickly available, so both of us wanted to get a pair. Until this shop opened we needed to kill more time. When we passed a Banh Mi vendor, I bought one filled with everything (what’s the point of moderation on vacation).

  

Finally the shop opened and we could order the glasses (have used them already and the came in very handy). It’s something I didn’t really need but always wanted. While we were in the shop a chicken walked in! How is that for city life?

After the successful conclusion of the sunglasses deal, I made my way to the Bebe tailor shop (one of three or four in the town). The shop came recommended by the receptionist and by Tripadvisor. I had made up my mind on how I wanted things done, it took me a while but I finally did it. More important for me was the material though. I wanted something which would hold up well during travels, not wrinkle and didn’t need ironing. I found all this (or so I was told) and placed my order. By then it was almost noon and very hot again. I was ready for a power nap back at my air-conditioned room.

The power nap turned into an afternoon in my room, relaxing from the heat. At 4pm I decided to leave the room though, no point in traveling and then staying in the whole time. Beth and I were supposed to meet around 6pm and I had my first fitting at 5pm.

Before that I wanted to explore the town, it was a world cultural heritage site after all. I just walked around, wanting to get a feel for this place. Even though it was very touristic, it still had a comfortable vibe. Everything was near and within walking distance, people were friendly and there were historic sites all over. Since I had to go to the tailor, I decided not to buy the tourist pass for the sites but rather wait for a day when I had more time. Instead I went to a street vendor and bought a prawn pancake (note the shells).

Then I was off to the tailor for the fitting which turned into a disappointment. I couldn’t believe I had ordered so much and already made a deposit for it. I was sure none of these clothes would ever fit me properly.

At least meeting Beth gave my thoughts another direction and after venting my disappointment for a couple of minutes, we walked again through the old town and tried new food. After some a boy let me try from his juice (I actually thought it tasted like piña colada) we bought one bag of it. Turned out it was made of beans (at least that’s what Beth said), so I cannot rely on my taste buds at all.

  
  

After more walking and some deliberations we decided on dinner in a restaurant. No street food on our last night together. We sat on the balcony with a great view on the street below and shared an appetizer variety and a Hoi An specialty (I am sorry but I forgot the name).
  
  
  

The meal was delicious but I am sure you didn’t expect anything less. From the restaurant we already had to rush to the sunglasses store. Our glasses were ready for pickup from 8pm on, with the shop closing at 9pm. Beth was leaving early the next morning for Dalat so we had to get to the store. We made it in time and our sales girl was so happy that we bought something that she took some pictures with us (clearly we paid too much which didn’t matter because the glasses were perfect).

Just a few minutes later Beth and I said our goodbyes at the corner of our hotels. Four wonderful days with her had come to an end. Yours, Pollybert

Hué to Hoi An

The goodbye at breakfast was more difficult than I thought. We were leaving Veronica and Jo behind in Hué while Beth and I would go on to Hoi An. It was even more difficult since Jo kept on sleeping and only Veronica showed up. So the three of us went for breakfast and while Beth and I tried the Bun Bo Hué, Veronica had some rambutan.

  

While in the bathroom of the small restaurant I found this statement. If there was some deeper meaning behind it, I couldn’t find it.

And then it was really time to say goodbye, we waved for a bit but then were already out of the city.

Shortly after we stopped at a lagoon to hydrate and watch the local fishers.

            

Fishing happened only at night we were told, probably because of the heat during the day. In my protective gear of jeans and long-sleeved shirt I was sweating already early in the morning.

We were driving on Highway 1 which was under construction. And construction here meant real business. Not just one sector, no all along the road houses had been torn down to broaden the road. And dust was everywhere.

            So I was glad when we left the big highway and were driving on smaller roads again. We were on the way to the Elephant Springs, which were beautiful and refreshing, and had lots of locals in swim vests. Here we stayed for at least an hour with Phuoc guarding the luggage on the motor bikes and Chung guarding us. On the trail to the springs were a lot of food stalls where all kinds of living things were sold (and could all be made into a little snack). Next to the springs were small huts with large wooden boards in front where we left our stuff and later changed into our bike gear again.

                Of course I had to try some food on the way back to the bike. After the Chung told me that the banana leaf package was a local specialty, I just had to. It was rice paste with one shrimp (including the shell which gave it a slight crunch) and a small piece of pork steamed in said banana leaf.

Super yummy and I liked the crunch especially. From Beth I learned that I can eat the shell without a problem which I did right after when we went for lunch (you just need to get used to the idea).

      

Even though the place didn’t look like much it was one of the best lunches I had. Alone for the choice of fresh fish, shellfish and seafood it was worth going there. Since Beth was allergic to shellfish we shared squid, prawns and had a crab each. It was pure bliss!

                

On the way out we saw some fruit that we didn’t know, tried it and bought some.

Next we had to climb up to the Pha Din Pass where we could see beaches on both sides. But not only is it a good view-point it also has a long history.

          

Chung told us that near Da Nang the French tried to land the first time (I should look that up and check) but were repelled by the locals. Later they came back and tried around Saigon.

The view from up there was great and invited us to try all kind of antics.

        It must have been the coffee before which gave me so much energy. When we left the pass we were going down to Da Nang, a well know beach resort town. Here the bushes that lined the main street were cut in all kinds of shapes and the bridge was shaped like a dragon (I have learned here that the four most important animals in Vietnam were dragon, phoenix, unicorn and turtle).

          

We made a quick stop at the beach to admire the sea and the fine sandy beach before we were on the road again to visit the Marble Mountains. Phuoc gave us the tickets for the entrance and the elevator on top and off we went. First we visited the little Pagoda on top and then Beth astonished me with her cave experience. Not only did we crawl through a tiny hole, she went first to make sure there was even a way through. I couldn’t have wished for a better companion on top of the Marble Mountains.

           

And with the visit to this underground Buddhist temple our Easy rider experience was basically over. We slowly made our way down the mountain and after another 20km bike ride we got dropped off at our hotels. I am so grateful to have said yes to this unforgettable experience, I really had the best of times with Phuoc and his team as well as Veronica, Beth and Jo. Yours, Pollybert