Year 2012 kicked start with a trip to the Airasia’s newly open route in Central Vietnam, Da Nang. I was not alone this time. I was with Jia and Emy. As work has its toll on me yet again, I depended entirely on Jia for the research and the lonely planet guidebook left by Rahel, the doctor traveler who stayed with me more than a year ago.
After one drama too many prior departure, we took off at 7.45a.m. to Da Nang International Airport, of which we reached 25 minutes before scheduled time. Time wise, Vietnam was one hour later than Malaysia. Initially we planned to go to Hue first and then My Son and Hoi An. After speaking to the travel agent who insisted us on taking its travel package, it occurred to us that it is more practicable to visit Hoi An first since we did not have train ticket booked in advance.
We were offered hefty price by taxi drivers to take us to Hoi An. We walked out from the airport, it was about 1km walk, until we found ourselves at a lost – all signage in English and most Vietnamese did not understand English. A talkative taxi driver who speaks English stopped by and offered to take us to Hoi An at the price of USD5 per person, an amount we first thought ‘very cheap’ turned out later to be ‘still expensive’.
Fullmoon festival in Hoi An is celebrated differently from fullmoon festival in Koh Phangan of Thailand. Fullmoon festival is also known as Old Town’s Festival where it is held on the 14th day of every lunar month, one night before the full moon when the town is more festive and lively than usual. During the Fullmoon Festival, lanterns will be set floating along the river bank and traditional games will be held.
And we missed Fullmoon Festival by one night. In fact, finding hostel/guesthouse was hard this time of the month. When we arrived in Hoi An, it was drizzling and boy, the colourful raincoats worn by the locals caught my eyes. It was as if wearing one is fashionable rather than a need to protect oneself from the rain. It was on our 5th attempt that we bumped into Nhi Trung Hotel, 700 Hai Ba Trung St, Hoi An. It is located in the midst of medium to cheap range hotels and needless to say, surrounded by tailor shops. We took the room for 3 person at USD15 per night.
Hoi An is dubbed as city of tailors for a reason. It is home to more than 500 tailor shops. To your left, a tailor shop; to your right, a tailor shop; to your front and to your back, you will find many more. Just rip off a magazine page featuring latest fashion, Hoi An tailors will be able to tailor made the design. Well of course, materials used will be an issue. After we cooked lunch, we went to tailor made our clothes; 3 pieces suit for me and Vietnamese traditional wear, Ao Dai and a pair of khakis pants for Emy. I got them all for USD100. We were asked to come the next morning to custom fit our clothes.
A visit to Hoi An will not be complete without a walking tour to the Ancient Town, a UNESCO Heritage Site. A chinese styled rows of shop houses, the ancient town reminds me of Malacca and Georgetown of Malaysia and Intromuros of the Philippines. The relaxing walk by the narrow lanes with cycle rickshaws honking for space to be made available for them to pass was priceless. I only felt the same when I was in Penang, Malacca and Intramuros. Entrance fee is 90,000.00 as at 08/01/2012.
We also hopped on the swan boat for 1 hour cruise over Cham river. I truly recommend you take this cruise. After all, it is only USD3 per person. Late evening, we strolled down the wet market for some local touch. And I found the snake wine!