Sunday 3 September, fine, 32°
I was up at 5am to head into the Old Town of Hoi An to shoot the sunrise, and also to shoot the buildings without the crowds of people that were there last night. I wandered down to the river as the sun rose and took some shots, and then walked around the largely empty streets. It appeared that the scooter ban that is in place during the day in the Old Town is lifted in the morning, as there were quite a few buzzing around doing deliveries and collecting the rubbish. The only other people that seemed to be around at this time of morning were photographers wanting shots of empty streets, so it was very pleasant to wander around and get a good look at everything. That is why I love early mornings.
I walked back to the hotel at 7am and we went down for breakfast at the little outdoor dining area next to the pool. The hotel has a collection of fish, lizards and birds so I spent a bit of time talking to the 3 monitor lizards in the cage next to the dining area. We went back up to the room and grabbed our gear and headed back into Old Town at 9:30am
We spent a bit of time walking around the streets, down some of the smaller alleyways ( where there were actually signs that people lived in town ) and went into a few of the old houses, which were interesting as they still appeared that they were being lived in ( in fact 2 of the houses had some of the elderly owners acting as ticket collectors, and one introduced himself as the 7th generation to live in the 300 year old house ) but there was a definite push to get you to buy something at the gift shop once inside. The saddest part of looking in these old houses, and also when visiting the restaurants and cafes in town, was that they have marks on the wall, with dates, indicating the height of the various floods that occur in Hoi An, normally in October or November. It is obviously a normal part of the yearly weather cycle, but some of the flood heights were 2 metres plus above the floor level of the houses / buildings, so it must be quite a sad thing to live through. My understanding is that the floods are caused by storm surges from typhoons when they hit land nearby so are very difficult to control / stop, short of enclosing the town in a large dyke. Luckily they make the buildings out of durable timber so it doesn't seem that they have suffered from the regular floods.
We carried on through the Old Town and walked across the Japanese Bridge, which is less photogenic than I had hoped it would be ( although I got some interesting shots from it, not of it ) and into a part of town that most people don't seem to go to. The walk along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai was very pleasant, with trees lining both sides and more crafty type shops as well. At the end of this street ( which was also the end of the Old Town ) we walked to the river again and walked back to the main area ( with the obligatory ticket check on the way ). We carried on along the river to the market for a walk through. It was mainly stalls with food ( including fish ) and household goods so it didn't hold our interest for long.
We walked back to the hotel and had some lunch at the little restaurant attached to the hotel and then back to the room for a rest. Liz popped down for a swim in the pool while I caught up on admin stuff ( and avoided the heat ).
At 2pm we grabbed a taxi to An Bang beach ( the nearest beach to Hoi An, abut a 10 min drive ) and walked along the golden sand and paddled in the lovely warm water. I am not a big beach person but it is a gorgeous beach. We grabbed a cold beer at a cafe overlooking the beach and watched the people for a while. Then we headed back to the hotel at 3:30pm, after grabbing some supplies on the way ( mainly for the train trip tomorrow ).
Out again at 5:30pm and into the Old Town again to watch the sunset and to grab some dinner. it was certainly a lot quieter tonight than last night so there was more of a relaxed atmosphere around. We watched a 'kerbside restaurant' get busted by the plain clothed police ( they were serving food out of plastic containers on the footpath, with a collection of low stools for customers to sit on ). They moved on when they got caught, but soon came back and carried on. We were talking to one of their customers and he said the food was good, and they were quite busy too.
We went to a more established place for our dinner, and then walked around the shops which were starting to shut up at around 7:00pm. Liz bought a couple more scarves and then we watched some lightning off in the distance as we walked back to the hotel.
We are back on the train tomorrow, heading for Saigon.