Friday, April 12, 2013

The not so sleepy village called Hoi An

I had heard such wonderful things about this place. A lot of people I've spoken to that visited here fell in love with this village and said it was their favourite destination in Vietnam.

Undoubtedly the Southeast Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries buildings that display a unique blend of local and foreign influences is absolutely beautiful, and for that alone this town was worth a visit.

I just wished that it was a quiet, sleepy, undiscovered riverside village that it definitely should be, because the charm and history of this place was largely lost on me due to the overwhelming catering for tourists dominating this area. Tourist trap central! There were more tourists here than anywhere I have been in Vietnam, to the point where I could hardly even take a photograph without having a tourist photo bombing - yes, there were that many here!

But still, both Jef and I managed to get some shots of this beautiful village despite the tourists.

We wandered the old streets that now no longer served as residential dwellings, but rather storefronts selling anything from souvenirs to knock off label bags and shoes. But this place is famous for its textiles and cheap tailored clothing, usually made to order. I got myself a sling to use for the rest of this trip. I had to describe what I wanted, because they had no idea what a sling was (which really surprised me).

We sat and relaxed at a cafe and enjoyed the pristine conditions, which is so unlike the Vietnam I know. I wasn't complaining, it was a nice break from the reality of this country. Oh, and what's more they even had NZ ice cream on offer.

We strolled along the river, and I imagined how much I would have loved this place before they kicked out the residents and moved in the tourist operators.

There was an area called Old Town where the streets are lined with lanterns. It was very pretty and probably even prettier during the evenings.

We also went into a large department store full of beautiful (and expensive) clothes. There is no bartering at this place, which was unique given that everywhere else it was expected. They had silkworms here, and we were able to touch and hold them. They looked and felt like caterpillars.

It was a fun outing, and certainly an experience.


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