Yay, posts from the Continent! Vive la France! So long as it steers clear of the whole colonialist aggression bit.
Since we’ve last reported, a number of notable things have taken up our time, both in Hoi An and lately, up the coast a couple hours in Hue. We’ve spent a long and exhilarating but ultimately tiring day in the sun, though (life is hard in vacation-land), so we’re simply going to list these notable things with the best intentions of going back to fill them in later. A few pics included below to make it a bit more worth your while:
- Pho on the street across from the hotel, followed up with breakfast part 2 at the hotel proper (street food wins again, but just about everyone around here makes damn good coffee)
- Tour of one of the Chinese assembly halls. Think that maybe Hoi An hasn’t really changed so much in 400 years. Used to be that the foreign merchants came to town to bring back the goods of the Orient to local markets. Now foreign tourists shop in the same shops for souveniers. Different goods – same basic game? Made me feel better about the tourism, somehow.
- Stroll around town, stopping for some spring rolls
- Tailoring, fitting #3
- Taxi out to the gorgeous white-sand beach (bathwater, wonderful); hanging out under the umbrella with a frightening thunderstorm on the horizon, chatting with but not buying from the persistent vendors (“Son Son is Number 1!”)
- Tailoring, fitting #4
- Stroll through a different part of town along the water, very residential. Most everyone is either hanging in the streets or eating together on the living room floor (mostly in front of the TV); run across at least two gentlemen belting out karaoke alone in their living rooms. Houses all painted a kind of teal inside that glows out into the street. We stop for a bahn mi
- Tailoring, fitting #5. Amazingly not yet feeling like they’re sick of us. Our sales clerks are doing a good job of advocating on our behalf to the tailors, who reluctantly agree to this or that change. To my untrained ear, every minor change they agree on would seem to imply a total reconstruction of the clothes; nonetheless, they seem to have a better way and never need more than an hour or two to turn something around
- Refresh at the hotel
- Fancy Vietnamese food at “Secret Garden” for dinner – amazing water spinach salad and Num (fresh spring rolls), grilled pork and fish
- Bicycles through town, which seems to have the Vietnamese equivalent of a lively Sunday brunch scene (maybe just like this everyday). Stop at a couple of the busiest places for Bahn Mi Op La (sandwich with veggies and spicy fried egg, among other things), and for Pho Bo (Beef soup)
- Tailoring #6 – all is done!
- Hotel for breakfast and all-you-can-drink coffee (how much sweetened condensed milk is too much?)
- Beach, lovely
- Mystery of the day: when it's 100 and humid, why is it that so many local ladies are wearing not just long pants but sweatshirts and gloves, even on the beach? Only answer we could get: they don't like to get tan. Plausible.
- Check out of hotel and wait for our bus to Hue, only to be picked up and driven one at a time by scooter – with our giant luggage, to boot! – to the bus station
- Bus (with stops) to Hue, with storms. Four hours and ~140km later, we're there.
- Wandered the streets a bit before landing back in backpacker town, where a mediocre dinner was saved by delicious lime sherbet
- Iced coffees in a covered pavilion, avoiding the torrential rain
- Walked the morning market, stopping for mediocre breakfast soup, and then for better breakfast soup on the other side of town
- Joined a crowd of men for street watching and coffee (with the requisite side of green tea)
- Boating adventure to the Nguyen Emporers’ 19th century pleasure palaces/mausoleums – beautiful places, a bit like touring the Rockefellers? Or the Bush ranch?
- Headed over to the local market, only a mile away but off the beaten track and a bit closer to the local action. Bought a Vietnamese coffee maker and then a mélange of snacks/dishes at 5 different vendors/restaurants: Potatoes with peanuts and coconut, bahn beo (dumplings), red bean marzipan, pound cake, com hen (salad with chopped mussels), fried rice and sesame crackers, bun bo, some kind of rice mix, two beers. Total: 113,000 Dong ($5.80)
- Mani/pedi for EB, with three attendants and locally vibrant colors: 110,000 VND +20,000 ($6.70)