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Motos and Models: Having Fun in Central Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

After Hanoi and northern Vietnam, our Pacific Discovery group headed south to warmer waters in Hue and Hoi An. After a long bumpy overnight train ride from Hanoi, we finally ended up in beautiful Hue. A welcome change from the grit of Hanoi’s streets, Hue’s clear open sky, beautiful riverside parks (complete with ancient and modern sculptures), and less congested streets helped lighten everybody’s mood and help us relax. After a nice jog along the river and a little sight-seeing, I returned to the hotel for the afternoon ‘mystery activity’. It was a motorcycle tour of the city! 14 Americans riding around on motorscooters woohoo. And we were off.

We toured around two Buddhist temples, a monastery, an incense making area, French gun-turrets and a royal palace now tomb. Truly too many places to show pictures of here, though I chose to post up the picture of the sticks incense are made from to the left, and a picture of a Buddhist pagoda is shown at the top of this entry. Pagoda’s are built at some but not all Buddhist temples and are always seven stories high. The French turrets were quite interesting because they were a very new attraction, it had only been two years ago that they finished clearing the landmines from the site.
The turrets were used on ships of the Vietnamese traveling up the river back in the 50’s and 60’s. One theme was common among the separate sites; the endless rice paddies that stretched in between every one of them. Vietnam is one of the largest rice-producing nations and it shows. After Hue, we would travel another 3 hours across endless stretches of rice fields to the beach and resort town of Hoi An.

High fashion city meets beach town in Hoi An! Not their fashion, not the Italians fashion, but Your fashion. This small beach town has hundreds and hundreds of tailors and tailoring shops with every cotton, silk, linen and polyester known to man and its up to you to point to something you like in one of their catalogs, bring in your own picture of what you want, or just design it yourself. From suits($60) to shoes($20) to boardshorts($15), they make everything, and quick, usually a day maybe two with alterations. I personally got a silk pink/black dress shirt (for Vegas), baby blue silk shoes (also for Vegas), and some really cool boardshorts (not exactly for Vegas). I finally shaved off my 'Wolverine' facial hair, which may have helped me during the groups ‘fashion show’(complete with thumping Vietnamese music and judges...) I came away with the award Hoi An’s Next Top Model.

Enough about that though, Hoi An as an awesome beach town is much more interesting. From luminescent waters at night to some guy I watched herding buffalo by bike, it doesnt really get boring. The bike-herding was a peculiar sight I saw while sitting in a cafe having a drink, wasn’t able to snap a picture but yea, it was quite a shock for someone not used to seeing water buffalo being herded through a city. That night was another annual event, ‘guys night out’. Craig, Jeremy, Will, Colin and I ditched the ladies for a night of beer, pool, beef, and biking. Awesome times. And all this combined to have us end up late night on the beach. But not any beach. The waters at Hoi An possess a special type of plankton that lights up like a starry aura around you when you swim through it. The plankton react to movement so that when you swim in it, splash it, or move a part of your body through it, a thousand bright tiny stars immediately illuminate. Truly the most magical experience of my trip so far and one that I will never forget.

If there’s anyone who you recommend I add to my blog’s mailing list, or questions you have about the particulars of traveling/touring in SE Asia, please shoot me an email at Jack.Crestani@Gmail.com. Cheers!

Strike a smile, the winners of the fashion show

permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on March 6, 2009 from Hoi An, Vietnam
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged Vietnam, Hue, Hoian, JackCrestani, Johncrestani and Pacificdiscovery

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Hoi An

Hoi An, Vietnam

After our day in Hue, we took a 6 hour bus ride south to a quiet little city called Hoi An.

In Hanoi, for the bargain price of 48 dollars, we each purchased what's called an open bus ticket to Saigon with four stops along the way-- Hue, Hoi An, Nha-Trang, and Dalat. With an open ticket you can get off the bus at any of these cities and stay for as long as you'd like. When you want to continue on, you just call the local office a day ahead of time to confirm. These buses are supposed to be more luxurious than public transportation. Supposed to be. From Hanoi to Hue can only be described as a ride from hell. This was a 14 hour overnight journey on an old smelly sleeper bus--a bus with beds, not chairs. We were crammed into the very back with 3 other people. First the air conditioning was freezing but then it became terribly hot. The driver seemed to have a death wish, passing in the oncoming traffic lane, swirving, and honking needlessly. Needless to say, we were both pretty pleased when we saw the prestine condition of the next bus we got on to take us from Hue to Hoi An. It was new and clean and the air conditioning worked properly. Hurray!

Hoi An is a little town only 5km from the beach. The downtown is built up around a little river and its narrow cobble stone streets are decked with cute little shops. Hoi An is famous for two things-- custom tailored clothing and local food. We delighted in both of these luxuries. I had a pair of linen pants and shorts made and Zack had a pair of pants and a button up shirt made. We picked out the design, color, material, and had our bodies measured around noon. Our clothes were ready to pick up at 6pm. We hit the town in our new clothes to taste the food. The fried wanton dish was delicious! (Sorry, Duke, I know you are sick of us writing about how delicious the food is in every entry). We are also really enjoying all the fruity shakes. I love mango!

Tragedy struck our next day in Hoi An. We planned a day trip 50km west to the My Son (pronounced Mee Sun) temple ruins. A minivan picked us up at our hotel at 8am and then stopped to pick up about 8 other tourists. Before leaving town, we pulled up next to a large bus filled with tourists. A man came off the bus over to our van and introduced himself as our tour guide. Those of us in the minivan would rendevous with the rest of the people on the bus at the My Son ruins. Immediately, the bus took off speeding ahead of us. As we drove down the two lane back country road, we were both engrossed in our books. Since being in China, we'd grown used to the crazy traffic. Tons of motorbikes, bicycles, and a handful of cars and buses fill the streets in a crazy dance of death, buses passing in the oncoming lane of traffic. We were bound to see the scene of an accident at some point. This was the day. As our van slowed, I looked up from my book and gasped to see that the bus with our guide and fellow tourists had stopped after hitting a woman on a motorbike. She was sprawled out in the middle of the rode, arms and legs in awkward postions, dead. It was a terrible sight. There were two kids in the van with us, about 12 or 13 years old. Our minivan stopped and the driver got out and went over to the accident to see if there was anything he could do. It was too late. Two women were dead and another person was taken to the hospital. This definitely put a damper on the day, but we still saw the ruins. The ruins, though built by the same civilization as Cambodia's Angkor Wat, were not overly impressive. Sadly, a chunk of them were destroyed in a bombing during the Vietnam War. Forgoing the roads, we took a leisurely boat ride down a river back to Hoi An.

Our last day in Hoi An we rented bicycles and rode to the beach. It was much nicer than either of us had imagined. We layed on some benches and sipped some drinks before heading back to town to catch our next to Nha Trang.


permalink written by  zachel on April 5, 2009 from Hoi An, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Zack and Rachel's Asian Chronicles
tagged Hoian and MySon

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