Vietnam Day 11 – Hoi An

Met the Israeli girls and they took me to some suit shops.  I hate shopping.  Still, I bought a pair of flashy red Levi trainers, then quickly realised they don’t match anything I ever wear, so will be destined to sit undisturbed in my shoe cupboard back in Singapore forever.  I also ordered a white/grey ‘pimp’ suit with 2 shirts, one red, one blue, all tailored, for $60.  I still didn’t like Hoi An yet.  I thought it was just a street of suit and dress shops.  No wonder everyone we spoke to raved about it.  They were all women.  Luckily, things took a turn for the better around lunchtime.

I wandered down a few quieter streets, and came across Brothers Cafe, a refined and delightful restaurant set in a Colonial building and garnished with lovely garden seating and an ambience that was immediately inviting.  I stepped over a bridge across a small pond and sat down at the white table with silver cutlery by the river and ordered.  The food was fantastic, and well-presented.  The best meal of the holiday so far, and also the most expensive.  After this, I got a haircut in a tiny, darkened salon, being especially careful not to end up with a Singaporean style squared-off wedge at the back.  Happy with the results, I strolled around and discovered the real charm – Hoi An Old Town.

A more beautiful town I hadn’t seen since Segovia, a lovely place near Madrid.  Narrow streets were teaming with life.  Cafes, bars and restaurants were snuggled into the walls in a very European style. There was a market, and small boats coasting up and down the river.  My mood lifted, and my attitude towards Hoi An was at once transformed.  The place oozed European elegance and charm, and, coupled with the gentle friendliness of the Vietnamese, seemed quite irresistible.

In the evening I went with the Israeli girls to Tam Tam cafe, a huge place in the Old Town.  I ate a delicious garlic bread with cheese, and a basket of french fries washed down with my first ever Irish coffee.  Delicious.  After this promising start we all went to Upside Down bar, and found a throng of foreigners, including most people we’d met on the Halong Bay tour.  It turned out that there was a big beach/pool party that night, with buses leaving every half an hour to get there.  We had some drinks, I bought everyone a round of Sambucas, then we caught the 11:30pm bus to the party.

The venue for the party was huge, and there simply weren’t enough people to fill it.  That didn’t matter:  buckets of vodka+redbull were going for 40,000D, so we all got stuck into them, sucking the sweet and potent liquid through straws in our sandcastle buckets of joy.  I had a long chat with the Irish couple, and then the pool opened.  I was the first one in, stripped down to my boxer shorts.  Soon, everyone was in, and it was a fantastic pool party.  Later, I played pool with the Irish couple, who I beat, followed by Fusball, which we drew 1-1 before they kicked us out.  A magnificent party.  At 4am I had to leave –  I had stupidly booked a tour to My Son temple in the morning, setting off at 5am, and I had to get back and get changed out of my sodden clothes.

Author: Neil

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