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Vietnam: Quy Nhon and Hoi An

February 24, 2012

Tuesday 21st February

With my dad, we took a minivan to Quy Nhon in which we were the only “falangs”. It took about 5 hours to get there and on the way the driver and helper took many packages and dropped on and off many people, with a minivan for 15 people always crammed at the maximum, sometimes 20 people. Efficient minivans!

At some point on the way, there was some gorgeous seaside:

on the way to Quy Nhon

In Quy Nhon, some friendly motorbike drivers took us to the centre to the hotel area for a fair price, not a scam price, so yes sometimes you can run into friendly people in Vietnam! We had some lunch close to the seaside, and then walked on the beach where we could observe the fishermen sorting out their net, like him, in their round kind of small boat that I have never seen anywhere else until now.

Quy Nhon fisherman

Other fishermen were just coming back from fishing.

Fishermen

This one had a really cool style!

Stylish fisherman

And surely, why would you use those boats only for sailing indeed, perfect too as a shelter from the wind and the rain and to make phone calls!

multi-function

The local people we met while walking the streets were quite friendly and smiling.Funny woman posing for the camera in a prayer position.

But you surely still run into very shy children here too!

shy child

We took a cyclo rickshaw to go to see the Thap Doi Cham towers. The particularity of these ones is that they have a curved pyramidal roof instead of the usual terracing.

Cham Towers

The cyclo rickshaw driver took us back to the hotel but not in an honest way. Instead of saying “it costs 40,000 dons for one way, so 80,000 dons for the return-trip.”, he was playing on telling us “yes, yes, 40,000 total, yes yes”. Why? Why not just be honest upfront? We would still have taken it and paid him 80,000 dons, which was a fair price as it was a long way. Why do Vietnamese feel the need for messing up people in order to get more money out of them but at the same time losing their trust and damaging the relation we have to them? Why this mentality??? Arggggh!!!

We went for some dinner where this time we encountered the first “oh what a strange misunderstanding” about the ordered dish. My dad had ordered some soup and shrimps and they brought some soup and chicken. Ok, really, this is so small it doesn’t really matter…but…How come this kind of misunderstanding takes place in Vietnam and never in Lao or Cambodia?

On the way back we saw a few propaganda billboards like this one:

billboards

It reminds you that Vietnam is a communist country. You really see plenty of these all around Vietnam, but particularly in Quy Nhon.

We asked the hotel to call for a minivan pick up for the next morning to go to Hoi An, and the woman at the reception told us the price of the minivan which was the same price as if bought at the bus station. So here, on the opposite, another very friendly Vietnamese person! So rare that an hotel doesn’t try or want to take a commission!! We went for an early sleep. Funny when travelling, you do get to bed earlier and wake up earlier most of the time!

Wednesday 22nd February

We took the minivan to Hoi An, and gave immediately the money to the helper as soon as we left, to avoid the potential situation where he would claim more from us at the end of the journey. In the minivan, there were also a young couple from New Zealand, as well as Ginette and Jean from Quebec and Jean-Pierre, from the South-West of France, the three of them in their late fifties.

We arrived at the bus station and shared a taxi with the couple from New Zealand to get to the hotels nearby. Hoi An is a really pretty little town, even if also really really touristy. Everything there is colourful, seems authentic and beautiful. On top of that, they have really good food!

Here is a woman selling flowers at the market.

Woman selling flowers

I discovered the Vietnamese coffee served in a filtering cup I had never seen. You wait for the water to get through the holes and through the coffee to release drops of coffee that fall into the cup that you drink after.

Vietnamese Coffee

About 800 of Hoi An historical houses, especially in the old city, are under the protection of the UNESCO. You can walk in streets that apparently were almost the same a thousand years ago.

Hoi An

The night fell on the river and pretty bridge decorated with colourful paperlights in the shape of the dragon, probably installed for Chinese New Year as we are now in the Year of the Dragon.

Hoi An bridge

We went on the other side of the bridge for some local beer, the beer “La Rue”, and were joined by Jean-Pierre, Jean and Ginette who were walking around there too. The five of us went for dinner after in a restaurant near the hotel area.

Thursday 23rd February

We didn’t do much in the morning. In the afternoon, we took the 5-visits pass and went to see some old houses of Hoi An.

On our way to some visits, we saw many women around sitting together, and selling the fruits of their baskets.

women

We also saw one woman making some paper lamps. This is one of the speciality of Hoi An.

making paper lights

The first visit we made was of the Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation which was founded in 1786 and had a dragon fountain.

dragon fountain

There were some really long spirals of incense hooked to the ceiling and burning that some people had lit.

incense

We also saw a pretty bridge called the Japanese bridge nearby, the first original bridge was apparently built there around 1590.

Japanese bridge

I really liked the laugh of this woman.

laugh

You could feel Hoi An was a more relaxed place. There were less motorbikes driving crazy around than in Saigon, and that was a relief. We walked around later, and went for beers and dinner again with Ginette, Jean and Jean-Pierre that we ran into again.

Friday 24th February

We woke up at 4.45am and got picked up by a tourist bus at 5am at the hotel to go to see My Son ruins. We stopped 10 minutes on the way for some sandwich and omelette breakfast and arrived at the ruins around 6am. We were the first bus there, about 20 people with a guide, and the morning light was wrapping the ruins in soft golden colours.

My Son

My Son used to be the intellectual and religious centre of the Champa kingdom and also served as a burial place for Cham monarchs. It was rediscovered by the French in the 19th century but American bombing later devastated the temples. On this picture, the big hole of which you can get a glimpse on the right is the crater of a bomb:

My Son crater

We took the boat to come back to Hoi An, where we were around 10.30am. Then we chilled out a bit, and had a local big bus at 1pm for Hue. We arrived in Hue around 5pm, followed a friendly Vietnamese woman taking us to an hotel, found it good, checked in and went for some early dinner. Hue riverside is quite pretty and I really liked its bridge changing colours all the time. It reminded me a bit that clock in Chiang Rai which was changing colour that I had seen in early January.

Hue

Here we were in Hue!

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