Sunday, November 19, 2006
R rated Hoi An
I think it was 2001 when R and I travelled from the north of Viet Nam to the south over a couple of weeks in a mixture of planes, minibuses, and the Reunification Express, a train more likely to cause wars than unite people. I believe it is much better now.
My favourite city was Hoi An, somewhere around the middle. It used to be an important port until the river silted up. I am never sure though if it was my favourite town because of one fun night we had there, or if it was just the town.
Our accomodation over the trip was variable, but it wasn't bad in Hoi An, almost western. One afternoon we hired the hotels bicycles and cycled to the beach where we sat under umbrellas on deck chairs with a beautiful expanse of sand in front of us, then the crystal blue sea and on the distant horizon, storm clouds gathered. My bicycle was pink and it wobbled badly and the tyres were a bit flat. Did not have to wear a helmet, so the hair stayed good.
We quickly found a favourite restaurant in Hoi An and no matter how hard I have tried, I can never find the pork salad I had in this restaurant, in Melbourne. It was to die for. Sublime.
You have probably heard the warning about not drinking drinks with ice in them in them in Asian countries. We laughed a lot when the bicycle cart tipped over and all the ice fell off on to the ground. But the vendor just picked it all up and put it back on the cart. I suppose the bad bits that had touched the ground would melt away.
We walked past a large factory/shop and a tout came out to entice us in. We promised to come back later. We never would have but he stuck with us for a bit as we walked. He was quite sweet. "Is this man your boyfriend?", he asked me. "No", I replied, "he is my father", I replied. I did have him hooked into believing R was my father for a short time. Once he knew he wasn't, there was much jocularity. Just to get rid of him, we promised we would come to his shop later in the day.
We were back in the centre of town later and we thought, what the heck. We went into his shop. His prices were good and the factory quickly made R a black tee to fit. He asked us if we would like to meet up later. We said ok, and named a bar that we intending visiting that evening. It was a place where your Euro backpacker goes if they are a bit flush with funds. It was quite a good bar in a trendy/grungy style, called I think Champa Bar. We had earlier dined at a restaurant overlooking the river. Tres manifique.
He eventually turned up at the bar, late in the Asian way (heavy traffic was the problem, in a town where vehicles are banned in the city centre) and we had one drink and then he invited us to his friend's cafe. He said it was a cafe for locals. I thought it would be out in the countryside and we were risking life and limb but then we had already survived the Reunification Express.
He whistled up a couple of motor bikes and they took us not too far to the Can Am Bridge over the Hoi An River.
The rest later.