Hoi An has been a chance for us to hit our tourist stride. I'm writing in the traditional this-is-Asia! lobby of our hotel. It is defined by high ceilings, lanterns and local paintings that somehow give it a Vietnam feel despite the barking dogs performing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" on TV.
The highlights have been the old town and the seaside location, just the invitation required to see the life of Vietnam as it relates to the ocean. As we cabbed down from Da Nang before dawn there were barefoot, early morning bathers making their way back from their predawn swims dashing across the highway. Life in that area will change dramatically, however, with the beach development that can't see a good beach go unruined. There are walls along the highway fencing off areas for development, including Montgomery Links, a golf course built by or trading on the name of Colin Montgomery. Hoi An is another world away from that.
We started the day by sleeping off the remnants of our train trip with the not-too-distant crowing of a rooster outside our window. A few metres down the road was the market, which featured more souvenirs than the others thus far. Like Dalat, Hoi An was spared by the war and offers a charming look at a much older version of Vietnam. We've enjoyed Hoi An and made our first assault on the souvenir lists. For those of you who fear losing your social lives to the arrival of your children, your greater fear might be getting gifts aimed at your kids instead of you. : )
Today seemed very much an opportunity to make connections. We hit the fair trade dealers in Hoi An and heard the stories of the people working there. I found a photographer who does tours and takes bloody good pictures of the place as well. I happily bought post cards of his work. At the end of the night we met a Quebecois here in the hotel who is traveling south and eager to exchange notes with us about what we've seen so far.
We SPLASHED OUT on dinner at an Italian place tonight for a grand total of $25 (if that).