Sunday 16 December 2012

Hoi Antics

I chose to visit what was described on my hotel's tour leaflet as 'My Son Holly Land' on my second day in Hoi An, excited for the Christmassy treats in store. In fact, it turned out to be ruins of an ancient religious site, explained our professional conman tour guide, collecting,000 dong from us for the privilege.

It's not Angkor Wat, but must have been a pretty impressive structure before it was ruined by bombings in the Vietnam War (the craters are gigantic), or the heads of the statues removed by the French (they're now in the Louvre, if you're interested). What's left is rather sparse, and the tour was made even more dismal by yet more rain. Naturally, our tour guide wasn't going to miss another money-making opportunity and collected money to buy us ponchos. Only this time I'd remembered the raincoat, ha!

Back in Hoi An, I embraced the slow pace of life by hopping between coffee shops, writing postcards and sharing stories with fellow travellers. I ate dinner at the market, sampling Hoi An specialities such as 'White Rose' (rice paper dumplings of some kind) and cao lau - pork served with noodles supposedly made with water from the town's famous Ba Le Well. As with many stories in Vietnam, it's best to be sceptical about the provenance of said noodles and just enjoy them for what they are: yummy and filling.

In the evening I joined some friends I'd made during the tour and at my hostel to go to a bar with unlimited drinks for 100,000 dong (for those used to Western money, that's not a huge amount - in fact it's an obscenely small sum of money).

However, before we were able to fully exploit the perks of the offer, the music came to a stop and the place was hastily closed up by the police, who marched us out - my first experience of the midnight curfew supposedly enforced throughout the country. Though with a 7am bus to catch the next day, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise!

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