Saturday, 19 January 2013

Disney does Vietnam


The old part of Hoi An (The bit that everyone gravitates to) is a bit like walking down Main Street in Disneyland. The buildings look like they are direct from a set designers imagination with just the right amount of decreptitude to give authenticity and charm but not enough to make your think Urrrghhh. There is a slight discolouration in the paint, moss grows, but not profusely, on walls, pavements are uneven but not dangerous, a crack in a wall will have a flower blooming from it and a sleeping dog is scruffy and dusty but not mangy. Again like Main Street these lovely buildings have classy or quirky restaurants selling various fayre and bouitique shops selling gifts or good quality clothing. Unlike Disney however, everything is pretty cheap and doesn't have that bloody mouse on it. This particular set consists of three long traffic-free streets (wide avenues with trees and wide pavements) running parralell to the charming river which has mall fishing boats bobbing upon it and locals in bleached white wooden punts that willl take you a slow drifting ride. The river parade is wider than the other streets and thus gives room for a few tables to spill out from a cafe and the occaisional floating candle sellers to ply their trade without hindering the meandering pedestrians or pushbikers (which at this time of year a few in number and diverse in age and nationality). It is "Oh so charming" but at night this same scene becomes magical with a profusion of lanterns lighting the streets, simpathetic spotlights shining strategically on asiatic standards such as dragon statues or budhas. Finally, just to fully give your subliminal perceptions one last tick there are gentle strains of Mendhelson or Chopin being played out gently through speakers hidden away beside picturesque signposts thoughout the whole old quarter. In short it is a lovely place and a joy to spend a little time in and certainly worth a visit.

Our rambles have taken us throughout the town  so we have wandered down residential streets, through local food stalls, around markets and poked our noses in places that perhaps we shouldn't. We applied to help in an orphanage but were told they didnt need us. Sad because we found a little house that we could rent for £90 a month and even buy for £4,000. A charming little place that overlooked the river and was just 5 minutes walk from Disneyland.

We have today been to visit the Cham ruins at Mysore. Various piles of ancient bricks, some in the form of towers, some with the the vestiges of building sstill visible, all with creepers and moss adorning them.

A bit of a schlep on another hired motorbike but well worth it since we were amoungst the first to arrive therefore and had the place pretty much to ourselves for 30 minutes until suddenly the hoards arrived in their coaches. This curtailled our enjoyment of the quiet overcrown setting but allowed us the specatacle of watching a little free ethic dance show in the company of 500 japanese tourists who were Nikon'ed and Canon'ed to within an inch of their lives. The dancers must have felt as if the paparazzi were in town with the number of flashes that were so prolific it bleached the colour from the shiney set behind them. One woman beside me must have take 200 pictures in the 20 minute spectacle of strange movements and even stranger costumes.

After the show we head home through villages, by paddy fields, and play the game of staying alive on the lawless roads of this beautiful land. The culmination of the day were having a quick meal beside the river and returning to find our bike had been impounded for parking in the no motor vehicle area. Eventually we discovered the bike in a small warehouse along with 20 or 30 criminal vehicles and were in the process of breaking it out when the guard walked out to find us. Luckilly being stupid looking and English we were let off the inevitable fine that would be levied on the locals and had to push the bloody thing out of the non motorised zone. No sooner had we jumped on we were witness to a drunken moped driver crashing into an old man and played a small part in swelling the crowd and removing the keys of the drunkards bike as he was trying to flee the scene.

Am now enjoying a rum and coke whilst the newly arrived rain washes the streets clean for tonights perfomance.



  1. I hope you kept that drunks keys in case of emergency ;o) Seems like you have developed the ability to look gormless, comes in handy sometimes doesn't it. It was good to see you Saturday and talking to Dave, Liz and Lucie. I note that the staple drink appears to be rum and coke, go for it you two.

  2. That sounds lovely going to check yr pictures out now.x neat