Hoi An: A Shopper’s Paradise
Hoi An, located in Central Vietnam about 2 miles inland from the South China Sea, is a beautiful smaller city known for its shopping. Hoi An is pretty much the shopper’s dream. The town is especially known for its high quality, low cost tailored clothes. Specifically, they specialize in tailored suits and dresses; but one can buy anything from tailored jeans to tailored swimming suits. The city also has plenty of souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars.
Hoi An sits right along the Thu Bon River, where boat owners wait on shore offering rides on the river. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has many beautiful Buddhist temples. One of the great parts about downtown Hoi An is that after 5pm, the center is closed off to all motor traffic. This makes downtown Hoi An one of the only places in Southeast Asia where you won’t be dodging motorbike traffic. Tourists flood the streets at night, window shopping, eating out, and strolling through the town. It’s a great atmosphere at night, and the lack of traffic makes it perfect for wandering. The back alleyways are especially fun to walk, as the small streets just big enough for a motorbike wrap around nice family homes.
One funny/disgusting thing that happened is while we were eating at a tourist restaurant right by the river. Right after being served our food and just after taking the first bite, I saw something scurry out of the corner of my eye. At first, I thought it was a cat because of its size. But as it got closer, within 5 feet of our table, I realized it was a big rat. It then ran back into the restaurant (rather than out), which caused big concerns for us. We quickly ate the rest of our food and left, trying not to think about it. One of the grossest things I’ve ever had happen while eating. Although I’m sure that rats are fairly common in a lot of places, seeing them makes a big difference!
One morning, we rented bicycles and headed 2 miles east to the coast. Waking up early, we started with almost no traffic on a drizzly morning. We picked up sandwiches on the way and had breakfast on the beach. Soon after, the rain picked up and we headed for cover in a café. The owner of the restaurant, in his broken English, was excited to have us to talk to, showing us all his TripAdvisor Reviews and even showing us pictures of his family.
While there, I took advantage of the stop for the rain and ordered a Vietnamese coffee, something I had become somewhat addicted to. The coffee is dripped slowly through a filter on top of a layer of condensed milk. Because the condensed milk is so dense, the black coffee rests on top of it, making the coffee one layer of white on the bottom and a layer of black on top. Add ice after mixing the two together, creating an iced sweet coffee. The first couple tries it’s shocking how sweet the drink is. But after getting used to it, it becomes highly addicting. I ended up drinking at least one per day, the ice being the key to cooling down on a hot day.
For a non-shopper like me, Hoi An is a nice place to relax, people watch while sitting outside of a café, and just to wander around. The small streets are great for photography, and there are a few bridges, including the Japanese bridge, which are interesting to see. For someone who likes to shop/window shop like Chika, it’s the perfect place to spend a few days. She can walk around for hours at a time and ended up buying a few items. As for me, I blogged while sipping on Vietnamese coffee!