Resting in Hue and Hoi An

Although having completely recovered from the fever and tonsillitis I was battling the previous week, I still hadn’t regained my passion and energy towards the trip. If you’re on the move every 2-3 days for a long period of time you end up longing to remain in just one place for longer, having to do nothing but rest.

The weather had progressively turned for the worse. Hagupit, the typhoon that had been ravaging through the Philippines the week earlier, had made landfall in Vietnam, bringing strong winds and rainfall. Lucky for us, the typhoon had lost most of its energy and turned into a tropical storm instead. The grey skies and rain were the perfect excuse to stay in the rather comfortable hotel and devote the time to watching my favourite childhood tv channels: Discovery and National Geographic.

However I did manage to walk about the old town of Hue, but there wasn’t much to see than old walls, the old palace and open fields, courtesy of the American bombing campaigns during the Vietnam War.

We moved on pretty quickly to Hoi An, famous for its small old town, adorned with colourful lanterns at night. Having heard about how beautiful it was all the way back in Mongolia from travellers we met there, I was pretty excited. Hoi An’s beauty, in particular at night didn’t disappoint, but it’s flair was slightly dampened by the countless people nagging you to buy their wares, lanterns or pay for taking pictures of them. Hoi An was a good example of how tourism could destroy a soul of a place. Everything here was revolving around how to get as much money out of tourists as possible, there was no sincere friendliness, only ones driven by greed. There was however a big exception: we were trying to find a good place to eat and stumbled on a small family run restaurant. Instead of trying to woo us in with cheap beer, happy our deals or fake interests in where we were from, they just smiled and made us feel welcome.

They didn’t speak a word of English but did have an English menu to help us decide on the dishes. The prices were very cheap 25000 Dong (about 1€) for the local noodle dish Cao Lao, which we ended up ordering. The surprise came when the food arrived, not only were the portions twice the size of any other place we had eaten for the same price but the food tasted excellent (I dare to say that it was the best we had in Vietnam). We ended up returning here again and again and were rewarded with free drinks and genuine friendliness for our loyalty. I jokingly said that it doesn’t matter what we order from the menu it will taste great and I was actually proven right every time we tried something new off the menu.

So the last thing we did in Hoi An was to come here again and have one last meal before going on another 22h bus ride to Saigon.