Hoi An, once you get past the extraordinary number of people trying to sell you things, is a beautiful little town. In the evening, for a couple of hours, the roads in the old quarter are closed to vehicle, leaving only pedestrians and bicycles to wander the lantern lit streets. It can be quite sweet and romantic in between the sellers. While here our group grew to 4 with the arrival of my fiancés parents.
The ruins of My Son, spectacular, stunning, soulful. Built between the 4th and 14th century they are a beautiful example of Hindu architecture. We travelled from our hotel at 7am, getting there for roughly an hour later. We decided to go by Taxi (booked with the hotel) as it worked out the same price as a tour and we could go around at our own pace. The taxi cost $40 between the four of us and the driver will wait about 2 hours at the ruins for you. Entry is about 100,000 VND. You don’t need an amazing amount of time, they can be done with in 2 hours and if you time it just right (like we did) you can miss most of the tour buses, leaving you alone with the ruins. Some people moan that they aren’t as impressive as other ruins, such as Angkor Watt. But they are one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes South East Asia. And even if the ruins don’t do it for you the large number of small lizards running all around are cute. I found the ruins to be breath taking and definitely worth the trip. There was a feeling of peace and tranquility with stunning views of mountains all around. I can see why the ancient Hindus chose the location.
The afternoon was spent lounging by the pool, exploring Hoi An and sampling several of the cheap fresh local beers, 4000 VND a glass.
Today we spent the day the morning exploring the marble mountains. A stunning example of Buddhist Pagodas and caves located just outside of Da Nang (about 30 mins from Hoi An). It was probably the most humid day so far, and with the lift up to the mountain currently broken i warn you prepare to sweat. The structures were heavenly and the caves with giant Buddhas hidden within are impressive. I loved the bats flying around too. Make sure to check every nook and cranny. We would have missed several if it weren’t for a sweet old lady who showed us where they were hidden. On the whole it was a remarkable place to spend a few hours, within the mass of tourists, but again, if timed right they can be avoided. Unfortunately there were a couple of down sides. The first, because of the humidity, sea mist rolled across the landscape and made it hard to take advantage of the spectacular views. However, this didn’t change the splendour or beauty of the area, but added a uniqueness to the misty marble mountains… So I guess this isn’t really a downside, but it would have been nice to see the landscapes surrounding us. The second “niggle” is the insane number or marble statue sellers all trying to get you to buy there beautiful, yet large Buddhas, asian unicorns and jade emperors (amount many others). They are a lot more insistent than those in Hoi An and don’t think they realise there’s no way of getting half the stuff back with luggage allowance. I know this is to be expected, but after a while it can grate a little.
We then took the taxi to Hải Vân Pass, which after having seen on TV we knew had some amazing views. Unfortunately the mist refused to budge and only 20 feet in front of us could be seen at a time. The taxi also stopped at a local “tourist picture stop”, meaning an area where several people were trying to sell you more stuff. We took a look any way and ended up buying a few bracelets between the four of us, it got a little confusing at this point with the sellers crowding around and talking. Working like a pack of velociraptors, one of the sellers tried to pocket our money, replacing a 500,000 VND bill will a 20,000 (thinking we wouldn’t notice!!!) and then trying to get us to pay the difference. I noticed! After a little arguing the situation got sorted.
That afternoon we spent in tailor shops, getting measured for a suit, tops and a dress (guess which is for me). This is on top of the shoes we ordered yesterday and the engagement ring my fiancé is getting made for me. We will be picking these up tomorrow, so will let you know how they turn out.
It’s been a long couple of days though, and I’m glad to rest… After several more local beers. We still have a lizard in the air conditioning,mopping it’s head out every now and then to see if were still here. It’s says goodnight all.