Hội An, Vietnam.

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We took the bus down from Huế to Hội An, and arrived in this little town I had read so much about as a centre of food. The town is very small and quaint, they have somehow managed to keep the historical aspects of the ‘old town’ area, and avoided the modern multi-storey building of other Vietnamese towns. It has also been declared a world heritage site, so the colonial French areas will always be retained, which is nice in a historical sort of way.

The food aspect of the town was quite enjoyable.  Local specialties like cao lầu, mì quảng and white rose were exceptionally good and well worth tasting, The town is incredibly picturesque and on a lovely sunny day it’s an enjoyable place to be, watching the world go by, or men playing xiangqi.

For me, personally it was a bit too twee, too quaint or as we might say in England ‘chocolate box’ . I really enjoyed the pace of life here, and the ability to ride a bicycle around without the fear of being driven off the road by a thousand mopeds like other cities. Also, the beach was beautiful, and swimming in the sea was great fun, but I found the town itself to be a little on the over commercialised side. Not in the sense like having a Macdonalds next to the pyramids; but in the sense of becoming that cliche postcard scene that the locals think tourists want – and maybe some do, but I don’t.
It’s a really strange mix of backpackers and then more middle aged tourists. a juxtaposition of noisy bars and then shophouses selling local homewares, carvings and paintings.
Maybe I didn’t get the place, maybe I’m missing something; but for me I just would preferred to be more about the town and less about the tourists. Perhaps in  ten years time I could appreciate this kind of location a bit more, but currently I’m at a difficult age. I’m young at heart but have no patience for drunk eighteen year olds, but on the other hand I’m no good at talking politics or mortgages with the grown-ups.

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2 thoughts on “Hội An, Vietnam.

  1. Ness

    It was prob our fave place (alongside Siem Reap/Angkor). We loved the relaxing pace of the place after the hassles of the bigger cities. I think it was the only place no one tried to scam us into something. There was plenty to do and whilst i agree it heavily aimed at tourists i think that’s just to meet the demand. Hanh who took the classes at Gioan was wonderful (did you take a class?) and the service everywhere we went was superb, that said we found all the Vietnamese fabulous (except the wankers who stole Janeys bag!)

    • I liked the town, it was a pleasant place, also, we did take a class but we were with the other woman, not the one from the pictures in the Lonely Planet article.

      The way we talked about it privately, we equated it to Jaisalmer in India, somewhere that is touristy, little to no poverty, or beggars and the difference is this.

      You/me/tourist walks past a shop in, say Jodhpur “Hello, would you like to see my spices/teas/whatever” walk past in Jaisalmer people said “would you like to spend money in my shop” it’s a subtle difference, but it’s as much mental (imo) as it is verbal.

      The same can be applied to Hoi An, people would just shout “buy something” at us, if you took the faintest interest in anything one, sometimes two people would be on top of you like an extra shadow. One woman said “how many postcards do you want to buy?” whilst pretty much standing on top of me! I felt like saying “well, I’m going to buy four, but not from you because frankly your sale technique is aggressive and unnecessary. but why bother? is she going to think about it? probably not.

      I think the problem for me is I like the cities too much, whilst I want to be near the beach, and relax a bit, mostly I just want to get involved with the frantic madness. I absolutely love Delhi and would go back there tomorrow given the chance.

      I agree with you though, most Vietnamese we awesome people, every hotel we stayed people people couldn’t offer enough, and people were generally, pretty genuine.

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