Wednesday 14 January 2015

243-5: Hoi An - The storm abates (or does it?)

Beautiful Hoi An
It isn't my favourite adjective but sometimes you have to use it; Hoi An's cute.  The lanterns on the bridges, the tea shops, the river, the merchants' houses ... it's the kind of place where Lonely Planet tells you to 'knock back for a few days'.  And when Lonely Planet issues an order, many a traveller obeys.

We spent a morning wandering around wooden merchants' houses which have stayed in the same family for eight generations.  Each has a hatch in the ground floor ceiling so you can pull the furniture to safety during the months of the year when the town is waterlogged (starting tomorrow, judging by the state of the weather)!  With their antique furniture and beautifully carved wooden panels, they were easy to wander around for half an hour.  Alas, the Quang Trieu Assembly Hall deviated slightly from the cuteness - while we ourselves deviated substantially from the purpose of a visit to Hoi An by failing to have any dresses made (although Guy managed a drunken teapot purchase) - but all in all we were feeling pretty happy with ourselves as we wandered the streets, ate noodles and spring rolls and fried aubergines, and photographed lanterns by the river.

Shrine on the Japanese bridge
Even the weather (a forceful character in our Vietnam drama) decided life was good and opted to ditch the frowns and constant weeping.  This was too good to miss.  We hired bikes and cycled out to Cua Dai beach - miles of sand with a break almost powerful enough to rip your clothes off (note to self: tighter bikini needed).  A day ago we hadn't expected to be able to loll on loungers and drink coconuts in the sunshine.  A day later we wouldn't believe it had happened.

As the dawn of our third day in Hoi An hid itself in storm clouds and threw a tantrum, we made our escape to the airport to take a flight to Ho Chi Minh City (from now on: HCMC or Saigon).  Saigon merely lies in the projected (rather than current) path of Typhoon Hagupit, so at least it may not be raining there yet.  And after a few days of watching the typhoon's path anxiously, wondering where we should go to avoid it, it seems to be weakening.  So HCMC, here we come.

(Okay, okay, it's the wet season in central Vietnam right now.  Enough with the meteorological crisis ...)

The interior of Phung Hung House

The Japanese Bridge

Fishermen in the river

Inlaid pearl birds form letters in one of the houses

Demon(?) statues in the Fukian Assembly Hall

Another great shot of one of the bridges at night

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