Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hoi An relax day

Day 20 - Sunday, November 24
Distance - 0 kms = total for day ~ 0 hrs (actually ~10km to the beach n' back)
Trip Odometer =  2218 kms
Route - Hoi An area relax day.
Hotel -  Ha An Hotel - Hoi An ($55 x 2 nights)
Weather -  Beauty from start to finish.  Sunny and warm.

Hoi An.  Rest day.  It was another rest day off the bikes that we were both excited for, mainly because we were in an interesting town with loads to check out but also because the weather was finally warm and sunny.

We started our day with the Ha An Hotel's 'included breakfast'.  We were stunned at the amount, variety, and the display of the food, it was absolutely top-notch with way too many choices.  I couldn't help but shoot a zillion photos of this breakfast as it was our favourite of the trip.  For the extra cash (a higher priced hotel for Vietnam), I would highly recommend the Ha An Hotel.

Anything you wanted from a fresh croissant or pan au chocolate, to a bowl of granola with fresh yogurt and syrup, ... to a tofu and chile infused omelette made right in front of you - this breakfast was incredible.  

After breakfast, we loaded up my bike and traveled 2 up heading east to the beach - a nice 5 km meander from Hoi An.  When we pulled up, there was an 'attendant' in a palapa covered area where people park their scoots and pedal bikes and the attendant watches over them.

He immediately throws a crazy number at me to park the bike (close to $5 bucks) and I immediately get it dropped by a half, thinking his high price was absurd.  I tell him we are only staying for a few hours and we agree on a price.  Once at the beach for a couple of hours, we get to chatting with a couple from the UK and they too parked a scooter at the same place.  It came out that they paid 5000d for the parking spot for the day... meanwhile I paid 50,000d !  ($2.50 vs. $0.25).  We got hosed, but whatever, it was a great morning at the beach.  (In retrospect, I remember a family friend from home telling me that you only pay $0.25 to $0.50 to park your bikes anywhere in Vietnam with an attendant watching over them... I guess I gapped on this conversation.)

At one point in the morning, a woman (with the rice hat above), came over to us and gestured that they needed help dragging a fishing 'saucer' into the water.  The guy from the UK we were chatting with (red shorts above) and I promptly got up to help out while the girls relaxed and took pictures.

These saucers were a very interesting 'boat' to say the least.  They were made from weaved tight thatch and had a bamboo platform in the middle for structure - some with a bench as well.  These boats were solid and very well made.  They would use a tall, single blade paddle and with scull strokes, (the paddle never leaving the water), they were very manoeuvrable.  Nets were then tossed from the saucer and the saucer sat very stable in the water.  We saw these types of boats up and down the coastal areas.  

The fishing saucers right in the mix of the pasty tourists trying to get some vitamin D.

We headed back into Hoi An for lunch and an early afternoon 'fitting' for the jackets that we were getting tailored.  We met with the young woman back at her shop and she threw chalk marks on areas that needed to be taken in on both jackets.  I noticed that the hood of mine didn't have an extra layer of insulation similar to the main body and she promptly took notes and said she would get that fixed up as well.  We were told to come back in the evening to pick them up (which was only a couple of hours away at this point).  We couldn't believe how efficient the tailoring scene was in Hoi An - huge business with travellers from around the globe getting custom fit goodness.

We spent a majority of the afternoon wandering around, checking out the beautiful buildings and shops in addition to a bunch of the traditional pagodas and temples of Hoi An.

Hoi An market video above

The day before, we had noticed a great deal of tourists on boat tours in and around Hoi An.  We had heard that a tour by boat was a great way to see the Hoi An area and we had decided that we would try it out around sunset that day.  Amanda and I headed to the docks behind the market around 4pm thinking it would be a great time to enjoy a cruise.  The first boat captain that approached us was a wonderful woman who gave us a price that I was able to negotiate down slightly.  I was half thinking that she would wait to fill her boat with others, but she said the price would just be the two of us which was great.

We had both literally just stepped on the boat and another woman approaches us from the docks with x2 icy cold beers in hand at $1.50 for both (same price at the shops and restaurants).  Perfect.  We paid for the beers and the captain pushed off.

It was interesting how the boat was operated.  In the above photo, you can just make out the fishing line to the left wrapped around a small metal post.  Our captain had a loop in the fishing line that she put around her toe and it was the throttle for the diesel engine of the boat.  She would use her toe as the 'gas pedal' for the boat, only instead, pull on her toe for more throttle, negotiating the fishing line back and forth slightly.  She would steer the boat using a simple rudder with her arm.

We were on the water for just over an hour and it was a fantastic cruise.  We had a beautiful sunset, I was with my beautiful better half and we had a couple of cold beers, what more does a guy need?!  We cruised the Thu Bon River from Hoi An and the our captain took us on a nice loop of the area.

Before the cruise, I had agreed with the captain that it would be a grand total of $5 (100,000 dong) for the two of us for the hour long cruise ($2.50 each).  I paid her the agreed $5 and tipped her another $5 as well.  It doesn't show in this photo, but she was thrilled.

Hoi An was a magical place by day and equally by night.

Our tailored jackets were ready that evening for pick-up, we just needed to find a place on our bikes to put them.  Our original route the following day was to head back inland to the HCMT and then to continue south before returning to the coast at Nha Trang.  The weather forecast didn't look promising so after discussion, we decided to stay on the coast and to head south using both Hwy #1 and smaller coastal roads to get to Nha Trang in 2 long days... hopefully avoiding some of the rain by sticking to the coast.  This would also give us another 'double' header stop with x2 nights in Nha Trang.

Stay tuned.    

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