Lanterns, Sunburn and Celebrations in Hoi An

We arrived into Cam Nam, a small island off from the waterfront in Hoi An in the evening after a long day of driving. We were staying at the Countryside Garden Homestay after being recommended it (and it being cheap) and when we got in we were greeted by a smiling Vietnamese man who showed us our room but did not speak much English. We showed him the slip with the number on it for us to get our luggage back/ for people to come collect the scooter and eventually he called it. After a couple of minutes, he found us and said we had to go into town to collect it. By this time it was late, we were very tired and grumpy, needing a shower but had nothing to change into. Before we had booked to stay there we had specifically checked with the scooter company that they would come out to Cam Nam as it was quite away from their office if not and we didn’t want to pay for a tuk-tuk. So we got him to call the office back and after some difficult conversations, they told us they would come collect the scooter and our stuff in an hour, which was fine. We quickly went out for a walk to a small local shop to grab a beer before crashing out in our room. The bike was collected, our stuff delivered, no issues thankfully.

Our Homestay

 

It felt extremely welcoming

 

The Garden where we ate breakfast

 

 

 

We woke up in our lovely, clean private room and stumbled out for complimentary breakfast in the garden. There we were greeted by the actual lady that runs the homestay (more just a nice guesthouse) and she was very friendly. Due to the homestay being further away they lend out basic bicycles for free so that you could cycle to the old town and the beach as the old town was about a 40-minute walk away. We decided to see how long it would take us to get to An Bang beach as this was the furthest point away and we also got a beach day out of it. I really enjoyed the cycling, it took a few minutes to get to town which we were then trying to navigate through the manic traffic, knowing you are the lowest form of transport on the road. You also just have to get used to committing and going as traffic doesn’t stop it will just move around you. After going through the city the road to the beach went through some rice fields, with farmers and water buffalos. We continued along the road and went onto the beach road where you have to pay to park your bike for the day. We managed to find somewhere though that it was free to leave your bike if you bought water and we needed that anyway. Dave had a very different experience to me though as his bike had a small puncture or not enough air in the tires making for an exhausting cycle for him and a very frustrated/ angry Dave when we got to the beach.

The rice fields on the way to the beach

 

An Bang yellow sandy beach 

 

An Bang beach was gorgeous, lovely yellow sand and warmish water perfect for swimming. The beach also stretches all the way to Danang so it is an area where you can see a lot of resorts and construction happening along the coast as it is sold as a luxury holiday location for the Russians and Chinese. The beach was relatively busy and there is very little shade except for the sunbeds attached to the restaurants. As we planned to be there for the day we parked ourselves up on some sunbeds and rather than paying the 100 000 dong each for them we bought food for slightly less than that price later on in the day. Like any beach day, it consisted of sunbathing (me for about 5 minutes), getting too hot, going in the sea, reading in the shade and repeating the process all over again. At the end of the day, we grabbed a cheap 5000 dong draft beer at one of the beach road restaurants so Dave could prepare himself for cycling back. On our return, he was definitely not happy and I left him to it as he swore off using the homestays bikes ever again. (no I didn’t… Yes I did .D). We also realised we were both sunburnt and I was severely sunburnt….ouch (and it was all patchy!)

An Bang stretch of beach towards Danang
View from our sunbed
Sunbeds for food so we could stay in the shade
Dave was so happy to be floating in the sea
Float and burn

 

Due to this in the evening we made the walk to the riverfront and it is gorgeous. All the restaurants are a weathered yellow colour, with each one having colourful paper lanterns hanging on their outsides as well as from the trees. We grabbed dinner along the riverfront, having some local food for 60 000 dong and then wandered to the other island across the bridge where all the bars are for a quick beer. Then came the walk back in the dark- it felt like a very long walk and we regretted drinking the beer almost immediately as there was nowhere to stop to use the toilet!

Lanterns along the waterfront
People selling wishing lanterns to place on the river
Such colours in the lanterns


 

The local delicacy ‘white rose’- not great!

 

I woke up the next day very sunburnt and in pain…it was also my birthday. We had plans to explore the ancient town however it was very hot. Instead, we spent most of the day flitting from bars to cafes and back to bars. We got a cheap Banh Mi (recommended from trip advisor) from Phi Ban Mi (15 000 dong) before settling down in Cafe Hoang. This cafe was decorated in a vintage style, with Sinatra play, seats looking out into the street and great coffee at only 11 000 dong too. We had a bit of a wander around the old town taking in the yellow stained buildings and seeing lots of craft shops and tailors. Hoi An is the place a lot of travellers get clothes made for cheap. We decided against this as we didn’t really have the budget or anything we needed. A lot of people get suits made but we have no jobs to wear them when we get back. We found a place along the waterfront for very cheap mojitos- which were incredibly minty but it was nice as the sun was setting over the river. In the evening we went to Nu Eatery which is a slightly more expensive restaurant serving traditional food with modern twists. The food was delicious, we had some great pork belly steam buns, delicious rice and noodle dishes and then tried the chilli ice cream (oddly worked as it was spicy, hot and cooling all at the same time). After food, we returned to the riverfront for a drink and walked around the small night market looking at the souvenirs.

All the old town is this interesting yellow faded colour
Locals sitting down for drinks
Architecture in Hoi An Old Town

 

The Japanese Bridge
Boats along the riverfront
Super cheap minty Mojitos
Pork buns at Nu Eatery
Interesting and tasty rice and noodle dishes at Nu Eatery
Celebratory drinks

 

We spent the next day planning the rest of our time in Vietnam in Cafe Hoang- where we wanted to go, funds, how we could travel to each place. This took quite a while so we tried lunch at the Kebab Shack which was unimpressive despite good reviews. In the evening we walked a while to Cafe Tuan where we tried their burger (80 000 dong) and pizza (100,000 dong) which were delicious. We also played with the little girl that was there where she ended up trying to empty the contents of my purse finding this hilarious.

Dinner at Cafe Tuan


 

On our last day there I dared to mention about the bicycles again. Dave thoroughly inspected his this time before getting on and we had a much more enjoyable experience. We cycled through town again and then grabbed a frappuccino along the road to the beach before exploring the rice paddies. We cut through to the other main road for Cua Dia beach via the paths in the paddies. The scenery was stunning with vast rice paddies, water buffalos and people working occasionally in the fields. We grabbed a sandwich from the Banh Mi queen and a beer from the resort on the way back to ours. In the evening we were picked up late, bundled into a minivan where we had to used our luggage for seats and dropped off at the Camel night bus. It was very similar to the other one we had previously been on but with no assigned seats. I spent a while chatting to the person on the other side of me before attempting to sleep but to no avail. The road was very windy which made it quite difficult for me to switch off enough to sleep. We arrived in NHA Trang at 6 am and made our way to Mojzo dorm.

Cycling by the rice fields
View from the bridge on the road towards the beach
Cycle, cycle, cycle
The ultimate bike jump!

 

Alex

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