13.07.2008 - 20.07.2008
Kevin and I agree that Hoi An will be one of the big highlights of our trip.
When we first started researching this trip (and even during the course of our travels over the last three weeks) we were told that this was possibly the best part of Vietnam. It really is. It is really hard to paint a perfect picture of Hoi An. While it definitely is part of Southeast Asia, it has this incredibly unique energy. It is basically a small beach town with a slight cosmopolitan feel. For those of you from California, it is like a slightly less affluent version of Carmel with a bunch of places to get clothing and shoes hand made for literally no money.
Without exaggerating, there are tailor and shoe shops every few feet. (Plus some really cool silk lantern shops as well). Basically you can walk into any of these shops, look at some pictures, pick out what you want, pick the fabric, the length, the stitch the buttons the yarn etc. and they make it for you within 24 hours. We did not believe it until we experienced it ourselves...yes BOTH of us experienced it ;-) We essentially spent the week travelling between two tailor shops. The first was a small family owned business. It was run by two very sweet Vietnamese ladies. I had most of my clothing made here. Kevin had a few pieces made but most of his new clothing was made at one of the upper end shops (Yaly) (Kevin was a super duper shopper...He had a very cool black suit made and some pretty awesome coats and shirts; Michelle purchased two very beautiful coats for the cool San Francisco weather) I will not go into the gory details of all the fittings and fabric selections but suffice it to say the experience was fruitful and exhausting all at the same time. It makes you wonder where we go wrong in the U.S. that it costs us $300 dollars and 8 weeks before we get anything we like. (oh and I did forget to mention we got 6 pairs of shoes made as well...again when I say made, we chose the design, chose the fabric, chose the stitch it was freaking crazy).
All this shopping began after a long day of driving on a motorbike to Marble Mountain (this crazy granite mountain that is basically full of caves and marble Buddhas carved into the mountain) and sitting on the beach under a straw umbrella on a chaise lounge.
Okay so as you can tell the shopping has clearly excited us but I think being at the beach and spending almost seven days has helped as well. We stayed in a hotel outside of town for the first two nights and then moved closer into town until we head out today.
A few more thoughts on Hoi An. Because we did spend so much time in this particular town, we had the opportunity to really explore and settle down for a bit. We found a very cute place for lunch that we visited everyday as well as a small Indian Restaurant that we had dinner at about 3 out of the 7 nights we were there. The food was very yummy and we definitely ate well the other nights as well. Kevin has made it his mission to figure out how to prepare some of these dishes that we really enjoyed. Beyond eating, Kevin became an expert motorbike rider. We went out together to Marble Mountain and Kevin went out by himself for a day. This skill should come in very handy when we head into Laos the 21st. (He met some pretty amazing characters on the road that we can share later (or in the next blog post). We did get to spend time at the beach and pool reading our books and relaxing.
So what is next.
Laos: We leave at 6 am tomorrow morning and head to southern Laos. Our journey to our final destination (the 4000 islands) will take a couple travel days but then we are planning to chill there for about a week or so. The travellers we have met seem to say that this is the perfect place to chill. We can sit in a Hammock, read our books, ride some bikes through the rice paddie fields and see where our journey takes us. From what we've heard there is only electricity there for three hours a night from a generator.
On a personal note: I am having a great time in Asia but I am also realizing how very much I miss my family (large coffee in the morning and Diet Sprite) in the states (oh did I mention clean bathrooms as well). It has been a great experience to get out of my comfort zone and experience some new things...it really does feel like my spirit is being cleansed. It has been a trip to meet so many different types of people. From the Vietnamese to the other European and Australian travellers, the people we have met so far are just fascinating.
Please please comment and check the Flickr site as well. Kevin and I have (or will be) posting some pictures from our adventures.
We ran out of space on our Flickr site, but our wonderful friend Invisiman (aka Mikey), hooked us up on his account.
Click on the tab Sets and Collections and select the "set" that is titled Michelle and Kevin Trip to SE Asia. Let us know if you have any problems accessing these...
Not sure how much computer time we'll be able to have in the remote areas we'll be traveling to next.
Until next time...