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Boys on bikes

August 26, 2008 | Travel, Vietnam | 1 Comment

Our wanderings the other night took us back into the heart of Hoi An’s old town, alongside the river where there are a couple of blocks of restaurants and bars on one side, and quite a few on the other side as well.  Forgoing the more obviously tourist oriented ones (the Lonely Planet effect was strongly evident unfortunately), we headed over to the less populated bank of the river and enjoyed a great meal with  views of the old town from the balcony.  I think I’m going to look like a seafood hot pot by the end of my time in Vietnam.  That’s ok though, people will be too busy checking out the spring roll that I have as a travel companion…

After shifting hotels in the morning (the one we were in was very nice, but at $35 USD/night it was quite pricey for Hoi An – yeah I know that sounds stupid, but when you can get a perfectly  comfortable room for $25 or less…), we hired a bike from one of the few thousand street vendors that wanted our business and headed out to the beach.

IMG_2156It was a few km out of town, with a ride through the rice paddies that was very scenic indeed.  So scenic, in fact, that we felt the need to return in the afternoon – but more on that later.  The beach was largely deserted of Westerners, so it was a good chance to check out the local fishermen going about their business in the semi-circular boats that are a common sight here.  The sand was clean (albeit the same temperature as the sun), the water was clear and warm, and overall I’d rate it as even nicer than the beach at Nha Trang.

IMG_2135After a couple of swims and some quality lounging time, we headed back to town to pick up our suits and shoes.  And very impressed we were too.  Getting a lined woollen (50% cashmere) suit with two pairs of trousers and three shirts, all made to measure, for under $350 NZD, is pretty damn hard to beat.  And I’m pretty happy with the shoes as well – a copy of the well worn ones that I had in my pack, custom made, for about $40 NZD.  My pack is now full to bursting, but I don’t feel too bad – a couple of Australian girls we met in Nha Trang had had 15 dresses made between them.  And that was just the dresses…

IMG_2158So then it was lunch time.  And bloody hot.  It’s surprising how often those two phenomena result in a couple of quiet beers being consumed.  Well, this was no different – except that it was slightly more than a couple.  Which I’m sure had nothing to do with the subsequent decision to go on an impromptu pub crawl around the countryside on our trusty pushbikes.  Nope, nothing to do with it whatsoever…

So off we headed again on the road to the beach, but once we hit the rice paddies Deano had a flash of brilliance and decided to take the road less travelled – in this case, a dirt track that headed off into the fields somewhere.  An inspired choice, as it happened – within seconds it felt like we’d stepped back  in time to much more what Vietnam used to be like.  Farmers tending (and riding) their water buffalo, rice fields gently swaying in the breeze, all while tootling along the rutted track on a slightly dodgy bicycle.  I could finally start to see the appeal of a pushbike tour around Vietnam or other parts of SE Asia.  So anyway, IMG_2151after the scenic cycle part was over, we moved onto the scenic beer drinking part.  The only criteria was that there had to be a good view – of  course, unlike elsewhere on the planet, you don’t really pay any more for this privilege here, unless you go to some very upscale tourist-type place I guess, which neither of us were interested in.  Instead we first found a little hut by the side of the road with a lean-to section for us to enjoy the delights of a cold Tiger or two.  Surprisingly  enough, despite the lack of a common language, the old fallback of pointing, holding up fingers and smiling, seemed to do the job.  A few of the local kids found us fascinating as well – not sure why, there’s no shortage of people with white skin in the area, but it was all good either way.

IMG_2159Next stop was more of a proper bar / restaurant, inviting us to ‘jazz up our day’.  Well, we were both feeling pretty jazzed, there’s no doubt about it – whether it was the view of the river, the umpteenth Tiger for the day, or just the overwhelming sensation of being alive that Vietnam gives you, I really couldn’t say.  Sadly by this stage the light was starting to fade, so our pub crawl had to be taken back into town.  We took the scenic route home, but it probably didn’t really take any longer and we got to see some more of the outskirts of Hoi An.  A shower, dinner and a couple more drinks at the restaurant over the road from the hotel (the owner is our new best friend now that we’ve eaten there all of twice), and it was definitely time for bed.  And it’s also definitely time for me to stop typing – I’m sitting outside on the little courtyard by our hotel room, and despite being in the shade and wearing only a pair of shorts, the sweat dripping off my nose and onto the keyboard is probably not doing wonders for the laptop.  So I think it’s time for a swim…


1 Comment

  1. Reply


    August 26, 2008

    I love the baskets on the bikes - so cute!

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