Sunday, 15 May 2011

April 22nd ~ Hoi An, Vietnam

Anisa decided to have a ship day today because she didn't sleep well the night before and we didn't have anything organised for this port. Chan May (where we docked) is quite isolated and there is nothing to do near the ship. Princess provided a shuttle bus that went to a local resort where you could stay and use the facilities or catch a taxi and venture further afield. Lisa and I (Kieran) disembarked the ship with the intention of doing just that but within minutes our plans changed and we began what turned out to be a great little adventure.

At the port, some of the locals came and set up a small market with souvenirs and other trinkets. We walked the short distance to the market and had a bit of a browse because we had just missed the shuttle and had to wait 20 minutes or so for the next one. We were quickly approached by a man asking if we wanted a taxi for the day. Lisa said no, but I convinced Lisa to see how much it would cost. Some of the other passengers were also interested and they ended up bargaining with the taxi driver and fixing a price and invited us to go along. So, the deal was done and we shared the taxi for the day with a South African Family for $100US for the 6 of us. I thought it was a good deal - $35 for the two of us for the day. I should mention that neither the taxi driver or his side kick speak english so we have to confirm the itinerary with one of the market ladies who speaks some english. Little did we know that the taxi wasn't allowed on the port so we get told we are going on a motor bike. We initially weren't sure if we had arranged to travel the day by motor bike but it turns out that they used the motorbike to ferry us to the port gate where the taxi was waiting. Lisa was not impressed with the deal I had gotten us in to and while we were walking towards the port gate with everything feeling slightly dodgy one of the port officials dressed in uniform passed us on a motorbike and headed towards our taxi man. We thought the jig was up and we were going to be in trouble for making arrangements with an unlicensed driver or something but it turned out to be nothing involving us (one other group had pre-booked a tour agent who came on the port without proper credentials and had been detained by the port officials!). We eventually all get ferried to the port gate and find our 14 seater, air-conditioned Mercedes van waiting for us with official tourist stickers on the back making us feel a bit better.

 Kieran walking to the taxi (Lisa obviously dragging her feet behind cursing me).

Lisa on the motorbike to who knows where…

Off we head to Hoi An, an hour and a half drive from the port of Chan May. The driving is reminiscent of China but with less cars and more scooters to contend with, especially in the cities.

Scooters from the taxi in Hoi An.

We pass through Da Nang on the way to Hoi An and stop at a marble factory which obviously gives kick backs to drivers who bring tourists. We quickly tell the driver 'no' and find someone else who speaks english so that we can confirm exactly where we want to go. We finally end up in Hoi An and find someone near by who speaks english and helps us confirm the exact time we want to meet back at the van to head back to the ship. With that sorted Lisa and I head off for a few hours of adventure.

Streets of Hoi Ann.

We explored the old part of Hoi An which is a mixture of shops and markets. There are shoe shops and tailors everywhere you look and it didn't take us long to find a little shoe shop and take the bait. Although the shop is filled with shoes, mostly there is only one pair in each style. Lisa liked the leather thong style shoes so we asked how much - $8 - and then said we needed them quickly. They would be ready in an hour so Lisa had her foot traced and measured and I went to get some local currency from and ATM. Lisa told me while I was away, one of the girls took the pattern and raced off on a motorbike to the workshop where the shoes are made.
Lisa trying on her shoes.

Lady who sold us the shoes.

I came back with 200,000 Dong, not realising I had miscalculated and missed a zero. I had really wanted to get 2,000,000 Dong as the exchange rate is $1US = $21,000 Dong. So when I realised I was $150,000 short both Lisa and I went for a walk back to the ATM to get some cash. Lisa was happy she was finally a millionaire! 
Lisa the Millionaire.

We kept exploring the nearby streets and markets and bought a few more things from the markets. While in the markets the women would come up to me and pat my stomach and say "oh, happy Buddah". They would ask me if Lisa was my wife or girlfriend and tell me how beautiful she was. Everyone was very friendly and quite persistent as obviously they wanted us to buy their stuff so they could make a living. While we were in one shop (where we bought some lovely colourful bamboo bowls), Lisa got conned in to going with 'Dau' to her shop to have her eyebrows plucked using cotton for $1US.

Lisa losing her 'monkey hair'.  Face now soft as a baby boom!

Lisa having her feet shaved! (yes it was a new blade - I made sure).
 The dead skin shavings - gross!

More photos from the market:
 Snake wine (with scorpion in it's mouth)

 Meats and worms.

 Assortment of eggs.

 Traditional carrying baskets.

With a little more shopping we make our way out of the markets to a little restaurant we spot earlier and looked like it had better food handling methods than those we observed on the street (at least if it didn't it was all hidden out the back and we didn't have to look at the raw meat sitting around on the table not refrigerated!). We had a lovely meal, a dish each and some Vietnamese spring rolls and soft drink - all for $12. After lunch we made our way back to the taxi and began our journey home to the ship.

 Lisa in the Restaurant.

 Our meal. Yummy.

We had a lovely adventure today. Some photos from the trip home.

 Fishing net.

 Photo from the bus on the way home.

 San pans near the ship.

A small market set up by the ship. The ladies rushed up to see what I had bought and just started opening everything up!

1 comment:

  1. ohhh that food looks sooooo yummy! I can taste it! Sounds fun and scary all at once - love the foot shavings - ugghhh hey! Did the sandals work great?