Traversing Vietnam By Motorbike: Day 7 – Rest Day in Hoi An
Bike Condition: momentarily good
Driver Condition: sippin’ milkshakes by the pool…
Finally, a rest day! We gave our butts and sunburned skin a reprieve from the motorbikes for a day to relax a bit and explore Hoi An.
Hoi An was once one of Southeast Asia’s major port towns, where merchants from all over Asia, Europe, and America came to buy, sell, and trade their goods. Chinese and Japanese traders would sail with the monsoon winds, spending four months in Hoi An after arriving until the winds were favorable to return home. With many traders spending long periods of time in the port city, the urban architecture, landscape, and life was a melting pot of many cultures. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), as the Thu Bon River silted up in the late 1800s, ships could no longer access the town’s docks and commerce in the area slowly dwindled. What was left behind was a charming city with cultural influences from around the world.
We took a day in Hoi An to explore the old town, its worn and weathered yellow buildings now mostly converted to restaurants and souvenir shops, but maintaining their architectural charm. Some of the most interesting sights throughout the town include merchant homes, Chinese assembly halls and temples, pagodas, and small dusty museums. Just meandering the streets and walking through a local produce market along the river was a nice way to spend the day.
We also made a short trip to the beach, where the windy day had the waves KICKIN’ and the sand FLYIN’, so we soon found ourselves back at our hostel’s pool. Naturally, we also took some time to sample the local cuisine, including Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes made from rice and filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and other greens, wrapped in rice paper, and dipped in peanut sauce), Cau Lau (a noodle dish with marinated pork and fresh herbs, with Japanese, Chinese, and French influences), and some tasty fresh seafood. Did we mention that the food in Vietnam is amazing??
Tomorrow we head north over the Hai Van Pass to Hue!