Monday, 12 May 2014

Contiki Tour: Hoi An to Hue

DAY 4: 11/05

Nha Trang to Hoi An

We caught an early flight from Nha Trang to Da Nang. The beach party had left me feeling a little 'under the weather' so Roxy allowed me to have a first in ages! What a treat! The flight went smoothly although, despite checking in together, yet again Roxy was sat at the back of the plane in the toilet seat (we are developing a theory that there is a superstition that red-heads must be at the back of the plane otherwise disaster will strike).  

Once landed in Da Nang, it was a short bus ride to the little river side town of Hoi An. Our hotel had a pool so a swim was the first thing on our agenda. We then wandered, across the bridge, into town for lunch. Because it is quite a small town. there is a lot of competition for tourist business, this meant that we were haggled quite a bit to buy clothing or to get a massage. When you are hungry, hot and on the search for food, getting constantly nagged can be a little annoying. We did however find a nice little corner eatery where we tried the Hoi An speciality dish, Cao Lau. Cao Lau is a noodle, pork and salad dish where the noodles are made using water from a special well located just outside the town. It was quite delicious despite the soil and hair extras that we found (not sure if that is part of the traditional meal).

View of the lotus flowers along the river in Ho An

After our lunch we joined the group for a bicycle ride around the town. Our local guide led the way over the bridge into the old quarter of town. Luckily, we had had some recent practice cycling, so we felt confident on our two-wheeled machines, unlike one of our fellow travellers who had never ridden a bicycle before!

Joy and Jack cycling like pros - Roxy perfecting the her moving photography

Our first stop was the Japanese Covered Bridge which was built by the Japanese to join them to the Chinese quarters across the stream. There is a pair of monkeys at the one end and a pair of dogs at the other. These represent the year that the construction was started (year of the monkey) and the year that it was completed (year of the dog).
The Japanese Covered Bridge

                                                   Inside the bridge, beautiful wall carvings, window framing and lanterns

We then continued for a mere 50m before stopping to view a house belonging to a Chinese family.

 Joy practising her best Buddha pose
                                                                     Dr Rich hard at work as always - perhaps being a                                                                                               Bollywood model is his true calling

Jordy finding her zen amongst the trees and Mosaic walls
We were then educated about the Chinese calender and the animals that represent each year. Roxy is the year of the Dragon (the best year) which represents strength and ambition. Joy is the year of the snake which represents good communication and wisdom. We each bought an amulet with our respective animals on them (Rox wasn't impressed with hers as it looked more like a squashed earthworm than a symbol of strength)

Records of the flood levels over the past years - Roxy would not have survived!
We then went to the tailors for which Hoi An is well known. You can take them any pattern/design, choose your material, they will take your measurement and have your item of clothing made by the next day. Many people flock at the opportunity to have suits, dresses and even boots custom made. We were tempted by the glitz and glamour but with over-packed backpacks, the weak SA Rand and our loyalty to 'Traders' back home, we managed to resist.

DAY 5: 12/05

Hoi An

The next day, we had a free morning as some of the group opted to view the My Son Temple. As it was such a beautiful day, we decided to take, what looked on the map to be a casual walk to the beach...boy were we misled!!!!!

Temple we found on the walk to the beach...

Artworks from the Chicken Feather Art Gallery we found on the walk to the beach...


 Admiring the scenery on the walk to the beach...

                                                     Taking cover from the heat on the walk to the beach...

The mini petrol station on the walk to the beach...
(proving once again that everything in Asia is smaller)

The bridge over the river that gave us hope on the walk to the beach...

VICTORY!!!! Arriving at the beach! 
Small print: Ignoring the fact that the walk back is still looming

             At long last enjoying the beach

It would seem that we timed it perfectly as we were in Hoi An for one of the Buddhist festivals. All the lights in the town were turned off and the only sources of light came from the many lanterns, candles and the full moon.

Joy followed the local tradition of buying and lighting a candle, making a wish and releasing it into the river...  


The Contiki group admiring the river of lights from the bridge, with the quota random old man in the background.

DAY 6: 13/05

Hoi An to Hue 

Had a long bus ride from Hoi An to Hue through the Hai Van Pass.

We stopped along the pass to enjoy the beautiful view

On arriving in Hue we took a cyclo ride around the city.
Striking his signature pose
Cyclo Selfies

Roxy's driver was quite the character- serenaded her, raced all the other cyclos and would constantly tap her on the shoulder to make her take photos of the local sites (which included himself)

Entering the Citadel
The nine holy cannons outside the Citadel

In and around the Imperial Forbidden City where the ancestral alters of the past emperors.


After soaking up all the history from the Citadel, we took a short bus ride to view Thien Mu Pagoda (celestial lady), the oldest Pagoda in Hue. It was built in 1601 along the banks of the Perfume river where the founder of the city was said to have met a lady who he thought was sent from the gods to tell him where to build the city.


View from our hotel where we had the best breakfast in Vietnam (all 5 rounds of it)


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