April 30th 2019 Vietnam!
Today was mainly a day of travel through gorgeous rice paddies and windy mountain roads with spectacular ocean views through Hai Van Pass. Then we had lunch in the tourist center of Lang Co Beach eventually arriving in the shopping hub of Hoi An–home of Old Town attractions, lanterns, and a plethora of tailors!
Tiger Team departed from our Hue hotel about 8:00 a.m. destined to spend the next 2 nights in the shopping mecca of Hoi An.
Initially we passed beautiful countryside of rice paddies until we reached our morning tea break location.
What fascinated me at this location was the oyster farms behind the shop. I observed men filling their simplistic wooden boats with old tires then wading through the water setting up floats and checking oyster lines.
After our morning coffee, we continued upward through the spectacular scenery of the Hai Van Pass. The windy highway was narrow and scenic displaying tropical flora and rugged ocean views.
Here is a video depicting some highlights from our trip from Hue to Hoi An.
At the summit there are some historical bunkers. They were built by the French in 1826 to protect this strategic pass. Control of the bunkers was later held by the US Army. I located information indicating the Vietnamese People’s Army also used this ramp to shell Da Nang. We passed a look out where we observed a train on one side of the highway and a gorgeous view of Lang Co Beach on the opposite side.
As we approached the tourist beach location, we noticed some interesting new ocean equipment/apparatus. There were enormous nets supported by poles which were dropped into the water at sunset and lifted at sunrise. Round 1/2 sphere boats lined areas on the beaches. This tourist area was very different than any other location we had previously seen in Vietnam…beach volleyball nets, parasailing, beach chairs? We were informed that Lang Co Beach is a very popular vacation destination for Chinese tourists.
Next stop …Thuy Duong 3 Hotel in Hoi An.
Hoi An is a World Heritage Site city of appropriately 152,000 people located on Vietnam’s central coast. Hoi An is known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals and excellent shopping–particularly tailoring, shoe-making, leather, silver-making, and optometrists services.
Hoi An was historically a thriving trading base port city. The architecture is diverse mixing eras and styles “from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.” Wikipedia
After unpacking, we headed out with Jay for a fascinating sightseeing tour through the Old Town of Hoi An visiting some of the city’s major attractions. Here is a video reflecting some of the attractions we experienced.
We viewed the historic Japanese covered bridge which dates back to the 18th century and is depicted on the Vietnamese Dong , and explored multiple lantern clad historic streets. This truly is a fun and fascinating city–especially during Vietnamese Re-unification National Holiday period.
We visited an interesting historical home/museum where a family member had been a high official of the communist party under Ho Chi Minh’s leadership.
We had a lovely group dinner at Lantern Town Restaurant observing the beauty of the canals and lanterns. Gin and Tonic is the preferred drink by our English members, so I tried one tonight! After dinner, Jay surprised us by shouting for us all to participate in a special Vietnamese lantern ceremony.
It was an extremely touching and moving experience. We each got to light a candle and place a red paper lantern in the canal.
The paper lanterns carry ‘wishes’ and this ceremony usually marks the Buddhist Vesak festival in Vietnam. Unfortunately, it was a windy night and a few lanterns overturned. But the experience was surreal and deeply moving.
Instead of returning to the hotel, many of us detoured to explore the night markets or get fittings from the multitude of tailors in this city. The skies opened up and there was a tropical rainstorm! The night market street flooded. Entrepreneurs ran around selling plastic rain ponchos. Mark and I waited out the downpour in a clothing shop with a merchant and her children.
It was another full and fascinating day in Vietnam!