After our brief visit in Hue, we reboarded the Reunification Express and headed south along the beaches and through the mountain range separating Da Nang from the north. Upon arrival in Da Nang, we took a taxi to Hoi An, the next stop on our journey.
Hoi An is a beautiful town that feels as if it is stuck in a bygone era. French colonial buildings and preserved 19th century houses, many with strong Chinese and Japanese influences, are scattered about. Silk lanterns and wooden & silk crafts are for sale at many of the local shops that line the narrow streets joined by even narrower alleys. There is also a river that runs through the heart of the city’s old town, so there is a wide selection of river-front cafés, as well as atmospheric footbridges and walkways. Between the bicycle, motorbike, and pedestrian filled streets are narrow alleys that wind between buildings, often just a few feet wide.
Aside from its wonderful atmosphere, many people come to this town for the many tailors that line the streets. As you walk through town, touts frequently approach you asking if you’d like any clothing made. After some research online (as these places vary widely in quality), Abby and I decided to have some clothing made at A Dong Silk, one of the more reputable places in town. We picked out styles and fabrics, got measured carefully, and came back for several fittings. In the end, I ended up with a new suit and dress shirt, and Abby got a shirt-dress and trench coat. All of these fit and look great, and cost significantly less than even the non-tailored versions back home. All-in-all a great experience.
The only unfortunate part of our visit in Hoi An was our encounter with Noul a tropical storm / depression that wandered into town for the last two days of our stay. On the day that we were scheduled to visit the nearby My Son ruins, we woke to a torrential downpour that unfortunately led us to cancel the day-trip. Instead, we outfitted ourselves in heavy-duty raingear and ventured into town for more sight-seeing and coffee-shop-visiting. By the end of the day, the passageway underneath the river’s main bridge had been reduced to a few inches and the surrounding streets were flooded. This is apparently not too unusual in Hoi An, however, and none of the shop-owners seemed particularly fazed. Fortunately, it had no impact on our flight out of there, which brought us to much drier weather.