Vietnam 300 years ago, today: the charming city of Hoi An

I have been travelling with a couple of Argentinian guys since they decided to take my same train from Saigon to Danang. We had to get to Hoi An after, and got on a bus together. Here I realized the power of numbers.

In a hotel where one of the Argentinians inquired, they said the bus should cost 25.000 dongs (a little more than a dollar) once we were seated and settled in this little bus, the guy started asking us for 50.000 each. We refused. He asked again, very serious. After about 15 min of back and forth, he started pointing at our bags, and then to the street, so universal language for “I’ll kick you out, idiots”. If one thing pisses me off more than getting ripped off is getting ripped off and knowing it. I asked an older lady sitting a few seats in front how much she had paid, she said 25.000. So we kept saying no. If I had been by myself, about now I would have given in and paid the 50.000. But these Argentinians were relentless. Eventually the guy figured out that we are Latin American therefore we know a scam, he finally let go, and then he smiled.

In Hoi An we ended up rooming together. Now, I must say, this idea would have terrified me a month ago, but now it just scared me. I kept thinking how much I would save, so I gave in. It was nice to have company for a change, and speak in Spanish, something I have not done unless I’m speaking to my mother on the phone.

Hoi An is a Vietnamese city frozen in time. It reminded me of Epcot because of how absurdly picturesque it is, and yes, no real people live here. The streets are either filled with tailor shops, souvenir shops, or silk lamp shops. Oh. And restaurants. That’s it. I would describe it as a city museum. So in spite of how touristy it is, it’s so beautiful it’s absolutely worth your time. I walked around by myself the first day while the pair of guys got some tailor suits made. To give you a rough figure, one of them got a suit, two suit jackets and three shirts for $300. So yeah. Worth every penny.

The next day we went to the beach by bicycle, it’s about 5km away, and then spent the afternoon doing the historic tour of old Hoi An. The houses that remain and having to find them on the busy streets is quite fantastic. None of these streets are wide enough for cars, let alone traffic rules, so it’s a deadly jumble of motorcycles, the bicycle carrying vehicles that are like a rickshaws but with the driver behind the passenger, (like an adult stroller), tourists on bicycles and tourists on foot. I very smartly (not) decided to wear the alli-baba pants I got in India. My pedal got stuck inside one of the pant legs and sent me straight into the ground in front of a pagoda.

Tips:

Train from Saigon to Danang: 40 us dollars. Go buy it at the station to avoid the fee your hotel would charge you.
Bus from Danang to Hoi An: it’s two blocks away from the train station, so do not let a cab take you and rip you off. $25.000 dongs
Stay at: Ni Trung hotel (one room for 3 $30 us dollars)
Eat: Cafe 96. Great river view and delicious food. They also have cooking classes which I don’t know about, but while we were there there was a filming crew interviewing the owner, so we assume it’s reputable.
Get clothes made: Lana on Le Loi street
Rent a bike: 20.000 dongs for the day (1 us dollar)

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