Danang, China Beach and Good Morning Vietnam – with Robin Williams’ Viva Danang comes to mind when I think of this area.
We flew from Saigon to Danang airport, which is the airport for Hoi An, where we would be staying.
On arrival in Danang (about 9.00 am), we were met by Phong ‘Our man in Danang’, which sounds like another Graham Green novel.
On the way to Hoi An we diverted to Marble Mountain because we could not check-into the hotel until Noon.
The photo below was taken during the climb to the top of Marble Mountain – most of the inhabitants worked in the stone industry.
The problem is that they are no longer allowed to use the marble of the mountain, so they import marble from Italy!
The climb to the top (via many, many steps) was hard going for us, considering the early rise and the growing heat, but we managed to make it to the top.
Temples at the top.
After our climb it was a spot of R&R for us as we made our way from the mountain to China Beach.
China Beach was a favourite R & R beach for western service men during the Vietnam war (called the American war in Vietnam).
Pillboxes can still be seen in the centre of this photograph – a close up of the pillbox is the main picture at the start of this blog.
From China Beach we made our way to Hoi An. What a lovely small town that still uses many of its old buildings. Hoi An has narrow streets, which are perfect for foot traffic, allowing us to absorb the local culture and just to enjoy being out and about.
A wide street scene along Hoi An waterfront.
Health and safety – never heard of it . . . The man on the roof is hauling up a wheelbarrow full of mixed cement. I’ve isolated this part below.
Hoi Ann from the river – a nice quiet setting.
Market day ?
There are very few cars in Hoi An, but they do have plenty of motor bikes and peddle trishaws for getting around. We walked to most places, far more interesting than going by taxi, because nowhere was that far – our hotel was close to the town centre.
Hoi An has many restaurants and street cafes – all are inexpensive, except for the cost of the wine, but what you save on the food and beer, (which is cheap) goes towards the wine – not a problem really. I think our favorite was upstairs on the balcony of the The Cargo Club, which overlooked the river. The food was a mixture of French & Vietnamese.
Because my wife and I, and our friends (three other couples) love Asian food, I booked us all to attend a cooking school called Red Bridge . To get to the school we had to go by boat.
The trip itself was interesting as we passed local fishermen and duck farmers.
The local fisherman didn’t miss a trick in trying to sell us fish – he bounced down our boat waving his fish.
Red Bridge cooking school
The school was a great experience. We were shown how to prepare various dishes and we were told that what ever we produced was our lunch (the price of the education included lunch!).
We were expected to carve cucumber in to a fan design, split tomatoes in a particular way and use one of the cooking rings to produce eggplant soup, fresh rice paper sheets, Hoi An pancakes and more.
All of this was outside under a suspended roof area (no walls) for coolness and the people showing us how things were done were very helpful and entertaining, particularly the chef who was very funny. I was surprised at the lack of flies; consider all the cooking and raw ingredients.
At the end of our lesson we were invited in to the main house for cool drinks. It was here that we found out that we were not expected to eat the food that we had prepared. A full lunch was laid on with soft drinks. We could have wine & beer (an extra cost) but it was inexpensive.
On the way back the boatman was kind enough to let me pilot the boat back to Hoi An. It reminded me of my time at HMS Conway and when at sea using the lifeboats to go ashore.
I promised not to sink our boat or to hit any other craft – the boatman and I agreeing.
We arrived safely back at Hoi An.
Hoi An is famous for its tailoring industry. There are many tailoring shops and you can order a tailor made suit or pair of slacks or shorts at 9.00 am and they will be ready at 5.00 pm.
If they aren’t ready they will deliver free to the hotel – one of our group had a small problem with the fit of a finished article at 5.00 pm. The problem was fixed and the goods delivered to the hotel around 9.00 pm. No extra charge.
I did read that the best way to take advantage of the Hoi An tailors’ skills is to take a garment from home that you know fits you just right – hand it over and it will be copied perfectly in the material of your choice.
I didn’t buy this . . .