We woke up this morning to find that Hoi An town is as peaceful as it had seemed last night Well, all things are relative, and it’s peaceful in a Vietnamese sense – its still full of the sounds of moped engines, and their honking horns, but these are inescapable in a country where there are no traffic rules other than ‘biggest wins’. Oh, and drive on the right unless you’re a lorry, in which case drive down the middle of the road. Our guest house, Nimh Binh 2 (it means Peace, and it s a popular name in Vietnam), is costing us $18 a night, including breakfast, and is a good deal, as its clean, the air-conditioning works, and there’s even a balcony with table and chairs!
We spent most of the day just wandering the streets of this World Heritage Listed town. All over the world monuments, temples, towns and whole natural regions are being rapidly ‘World Heritage Listed’ – I’m not sure what it means really, but it does seem the mean that the country its in wants to preserve some of it, because its good for tourism. And Hoi An is no exception – in the old town itself they’ve banned cars, and as it is so compact, it is easy to walk around (although you do have to be aware of bikes and mopeds whizzing around).
They’ve also got very stringent preservation laws, which means that although many buildings in the town are being turned into shops, cafes and galleries, they still retain much of the original charm that I imagine the town had.
As the town is set in the middle of countryside, the market is the most important thing in the town, and every morning streams of women from the surrounding villages come into town to sell their surplus vegetables. And then a good number of them head to ‘Poker Corner’, where they form a crouched circle and gamble with their takings!
As has been the case since we arrived in Vietnam, the girls generate a lot of interest on the street, and we end up moving down the road very slowly, with all the people that want to look at them, touch their hair and skin, and pinch them (Charlotte is learning to suppress her “Ouch”-instinct, but she does complain that much of the pinching really hurts!).
As we’ve come 500 miles north from Saigon, it has got noticeably cooler – the daytime peak is only about 32-degrees, and the evenings dip to 27-degrees – and it is very welcome to us all. In fact, if it gets any cooler in the evenings, we’ll be needing to unpack our fleeces!