We started with a ride back around the old town before setting off on real roads towards the beach, four kilometres away, breathing in the fumes of the other traffic. It was okay while we were at speed, but once stopped the humidity really hit. Eventually we left the built up area and entered a bucolic river scene where fishermen in tiny wooden boats punted silently along the brown river. Buffaloes snoozed in the rice paddy fields, their muscular service unrequired this day.
We had lunch opposite the hotel at the White Lotus restaurant, which supports the Project Indochina charity. The banh xeo pancakes differed from the Sydney versions in being wrapped in rice paper, but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed eating the thick paper.
Late in the afternoon, after a nap, we thought we’d see some of the tourist sites. Along the way it rained a little, but that quickly passed. We only managed a couple of sites. The dark interior architecture of the Tran Family Chapel was an interesting blend of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese influences, but the guide was more interested in getting us to buy things. There were no guides at the Japanese Covered Bridge, but the crowds took away much of the atmosphere. The Cantonese Assembly Hall was full of garish decoration, but B was a bit freaked out by the funeral proceedings to one side.
Nevertheless it was fun to walk the length of the old town. We bought a floating candle lantern for Alex but it refused to sail out into the river proper. We had to hurry back to collect the clothes delivered from the beach, but they came a bit early and we missed them. Then we returned to the old town for dinner.
Vietnam manufactures many of the backpacks available in the rest of the world, but they are almost of branded “North Face” here and there’s not much choice or quality.
We ate another wonderful dinner by the river, with Alex loving the egg on pancakes.
As we walked back in the lantern lit darkness we stopped for scoops of ice cream, including the delicious lemongrass flavour. The markets were closing and it was time to get some rest before tomorrow’s early flights. Unfortunately, the internet refused to work in the hotel, so I couldn’t check in online.
Sad to be leaving Hoi An. With its blend of so many cultures, a relaxed feel and great food it was a wonderful introduction to Vietnam.