Well eventually we had to leave the Pligrimage Village and head to Hoi An. Rach was really settling in to Hue and enjoying the relaxing time we were having. However the journey must continue so off we went. Hoi An being only 140km away and with no train linking the towns we hired a minivan and driver to take us there. This enabled us to stop off on the way and check out the sights. First stop was the Hi Van Pass - intially used as a boundary between the Vietnamese and the Champa kingdom it was also used by the French and the Americans. Rach suggestion it got its name because it was really high and we were in a van - this is however unsubstantiated! Toby enjoyed the walk at the top around the bullet scared forts, wanting to know where each "team" would be standing when they were fighting. We then made our way down the long and winding road (Yes Beatles reference) to the city of Danang. Here we got to visit the Cham museum. It holds the largest selection of Cham artefacts in the world dating from the 5th century to the 15th. The museum was well worth a visit even if we were there for only half and hour. I was particually impressed with the lady running the souvenir shop and the end of the museum. She was singing karaoke quiet loudly on her computer - I hadn't expected that!
The last stop on the way was to Marble mountain, we visited the Thuy Son mountain. The highlight was the Huyen Khong Cave which is spectacular and had an incredible airy feeling about it. Inside is an enourmous Buddha statute which is lit by small openingings in the roof letting in streams of sunlight. As we left Marble mountian there was a 40km drive to Hoi An past all the developement of China beach. Massive resorts and golf courses lining the beach.
The view from part way up the pass
The forts at the summit of the Hi Van Pass
The museum in Danang
Huyen Khong Cave
The Budda carved out of the wall of the cave
A pagoda also on the mountain
Our first few days in Hoi An have been lovely, the centre of town is and Unesco heritage site and is protected. All 800 buildings here still look as they did centeries ago. It is a nice place to wander with only bikes able to join you walking about. The absence of cars and particularly motorbikes is great. We have had some really nice meals here, for the first time in Vietnam we feel we have enjoyed some really nice, tasty Vietnamese food (Thanks G). One of the meals we had cost $40 and we ordered 3 entrees, 2 salads and 3 mains as well as 5 drinks. With the prices so cheap you don't mind ordering different dishes to see what they are like. The bars are good too, hard to beat a 4000 VD beer (that's 25c NZ!). At the same time Rach is into Mojiotos and Gin and tonics for about 40 000-50 000 VD($3) still cheap but that's 10 beers all the same.
Thu Bon river
in the Old Town
Our local - checkout the motorbike parked inside (the other night there were three)
The kids are nearly as big as the owners. The older woman does all the cooking on a 2 burner portable camp stove on the floor. Makes our camping meals look pretty pathetic! She also decided we had left to much food the other night and proceeded to stuff big spoonfuls of rice into each of the kids mouths much to there shock and amusement
We have also made it to the beach, It is beautiful. The water is quite calm and the beach is dead flat, which makes it really kid friendly.
The accommodation we are in is also nice, we are half way between the beach and the old town - a $3 taxi ride either way. We are in a homestay with 4 other bungalows, each has 2 bedrooms, a lounge and a kitchen. There is a shared pool also. It's $80 a night and the kids are enjoying the space of having a "house". We are here for 8 nights and the family that own the property are making a real fuss of the kids. We have been invited to a family dinner with them later on in our stay, which will be nice.
Cua Dai beach
The weather here is hot,hot hot. The clouds have disappeared and we are getting clear and sunny days now. Although we are still getting the thunder and lightning at nights without seeing a drop of rain. The temperature is around 35 during the day but is still very humid and at night its around 28. We have spent a couple of nights having tea in the old town and wandering the streets. The kids and I played a game the other night on a street corner it called Bit Mat Bap No. Its a folk game of trying to break claypots. They put a mask on you so you cant see then put a stick in your hand. Your task is to step forward 10 odd paces then swing wildly at a claypot hanging in the air. It was loads of fun but quite difficult. The kids got to take their masks off in the end and whack the pots but still couldn't break them. However they were given prizes. It cost $2 for all three of them to play.
Holly playing a game of Bit Mat Bap No
Having dinner at the Cargo club on the river front
The other night we did a boat trip on the Thu Bon river. We took at 1 hour trip at dusk with the captian letting all the kids have a go at steering along the way. Toby got the best deal with a good 15 minutes at the helm. That was until we went down a narrow passage in the dark and ran a ground! Anyway it was a fun trip and it was truly beautiful (thats for Mum) coming back into the town with all the lanterns lit up along the bridges shops and resturants along the river.
Captian Toby I Watson
The many lanterns in Hoi An
I have been out for a few runs when I get motivated enough. Its light at 5.15am so I've had a couple of early runs around the town trying to avoid the 2 million motorbikes that pass you and get out before the sun gets to hot. I've had an interesting response from the locals to me running. Lots of laughs and even a few stop on there bikes and have taken photos on there phones. I've also been given a high five by a driver of 1 motorbike while he was coming towards me, made me a bit nervous about how it might end up. I've even had a lady say "very handsome" to me as I said Xin Choa(hello) to her. Maybe her english wasn't great and she was actually calling me a doufess? Anyway the runs are well worth it, amazing scenery with rice fields, water buffalo, beaches all around me. Rach - I haven't been running as I think I'd die if I did, shall leave that madness for Matt. The other reason we wake so early is our neighbours rooster that starts crowing at 1am!!
Rach - Holly and I had a wee shopping trip this morning which was lovely I'm now having 2 dresses made one for $25 the other one is $40 and they'll be ready this afternoon which is difficult to get your head round . Still reluctant to try on clothes as all that extra exertion just ends in a sweaty lather. Holly brought her favourite thing a lucky golden cat that runs on a battery and waves - she has wanted one ever since seeing it in the Yum Yum cafe in Richmond. We stopped and had a cold drink overlooking the river and bought a few other little bits and pieces. A very relaxing and civilised 2 hours while Matt hung out with the other two back at the homestay. We met them later in town for lunch.