21.05.2008 - 23.05.2008 34 °C
Well after the gruelling 3 days of traveling, we figured that we don't really want to be doing short stays at different places just for the sake of being able to say "been there, done that". So we're still in Hoi An, and will only be leaving tomorrow for Ho Chi Minh City (here they still call it Saigon).
When we arrived in Hoi An, I must say, we were pretty disappointed. All those pictures were extremely beautiful, but what we saw when we first came were road works, noisy motorbikes, touts, dusty air, and unimpressive buildings. It didn't help that we kind of got lost, and the people we ran into weren't exactly friendly. Even the food we tried at one of the restaurants was so bad, even I didn't finish the food. We did, however, go to a few tailoring shops and shoe shops. The made-to-measure clothes, we knew of it beforehand, so no surprise there. However, when Tan wanted to buy shoes, we were pleasantly surprised that they actually MADE the shoes, not just stock up on a bunch of uniform sizes.
In my opinion, Tan went cuckoo over the clothes and shoes. So apart from the shopping, we really weren't happy the first night, and not interested in going around, so we spent the evening watching TV (we had Star Movies, HBO, Discovery Channel, Australia Net, and then some local channels). That was Wednesday, 3 days ago.
Thursday we went to My Son. Actually, they call it My Son Holyland. For some reason, both of us had the impression that it was the remains of a Cham city. Oops. It's actually the remains and ruins of the religious site of the Cham Kingdom. Basically it was a complex of temples dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, and various other smaller gods. It was pretty interesting actually. Too bad the Americans bombed the site so badly, apart from 1 or 2 sites that were still pretty much intact, most of it were just ruins, including what was believed to be the largest and most important and spectacular one. All that was left was the centre area, and a short wall. You can see from the photo, there's really hardly anything left.
We took the boat back to Hoi An, pretty nice ride, with the wind blowing in your face and the sun shining on your skin (if you go up to the upper deck). We met 3 Singaporeans on the tour as well, all from NUS from the '86 batch. Yay, finally, Singaporeans our age. 1 of them being more social then the other two, so I got my conversation fix for the day, while Tan decided to just sit on the ledge and enjoy the ride.
The boat dropped us off at the riverside (obviously), so we had to walk through the old town again to get back to hotel. No change in opinion then either about the place, so after we booked a cooking class for Friday, it was out for dinner, and back to the hotel to watch TV.
We had a good time cooking yesterday, it was pretty fun, making the rice paper, pancakes, some claypot eggplant thing (yuck, although it was fun cooking it), and eating what we had made, plus more. We had a tour around the market, which was pretty much like the wet markets in Singapore in the '90s, just wetter and will narrower walkways. The guide also showed us some pretty interestng knives, although most of them were for decoration. Pretty tempting to buy, but then, I can imagine my mum's reaction (You got too much money to spend ah? These kind of things can do with normal knife, buy these kind of fancy stuff for what? Waste money only. Somemore you see got so many knives at home! .........). The class was with Red Bridge, which wasn't located within the main Hoi An area, so we took their boat down the river to the place. Nice scenery along the way, and the place was like, 5-star standard, compared to what we've been used to on this trip. Nice toilet, nice ambience, nice service, even a pool that we could use if we had brought our swimming stuff. We really enjoyed ourselves, we were like being pampered (relatively) the whole time, and the chef who was teaching us, though pretty lame at times, was clear and concise. And, the food was GOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.
By now, we're more or less over the shock, and pretty much happy with the place. That they cordoned off the old town to be for "walkers and users of primitive vehicles only", definitely helped. After a nice rest, we went back to the old town to walk, and for Tan, to shop. This time, it was nicer. Because they stopped all the roadworks and stopped the motorbikes from entering, the air was clearer, it was quieter, and way more fitting the description of a town worthy of the world heritage list then when we first saw it.
Today, we're back to another cooking class, this time to learn some other stuff that they didn't teach yesterday. And of course, hopefully, to explore the old town withouth the noise and dust, as well as to collect the shoes and clothes that we made. We've collected some already, and they are really nice. =)