After the tour through the Highlands, I started out again on my own in Hoi An before taking a bus up to Hanoi. I’ll spare you my creative narrative on this post since I’m a few weeks behind on recapping my travelouge; some highlights of the city are below…
Wikipedia tells me that ‘Hoi An’ translates to ‘peaceful meeting place’. I suppose ‘peaceful’ is a relative term as I experienced some culture shock seeing the hustle and bustle of a city and of all the other Westerners after being on the Highlands trail for 6 days. Though, it was indeed a ‘meeting place’; I made several new friends in the city and ran into some of my Danish friends whom I shared a night bus with from Siem Reap to Saigon. The backpacker trail grows smaller and smaller with every passing day.
I had come to Hoi An mostly for a singular purpose: custom suit manufacture. There are several hundred tailors in Hoi An and it has become an extremely popular place for tourists to get a suit (or several suits) made from custom fabrics. (You may wonder what a jobless backpacker would possibly need a suit for, but if you’d been following along, you’d know that I’m due to go to a friend’s wedding in a week. Zip off pants and tanktops, stylish as they may be, would not cut it). I chose Tuong Tailor on Tran Hung Dao after stopping in several shops and negotiating price.
Overall, I’m really happy with the suit but I’ll pass final judgement when I ensure it’s able to withstand a night of dancing. Update to come after this weekend. No pictures yet since I heard it’s bad luck for your blog followers to see you in your suit before your friend’s wedding. Update: the suit is awesome. Stood up to a night of dancing and fit great (despite some wrinkles from being stuffed into my tiny backpack with no time to visit a dry cleaner).
Hoi An old city is also famous as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a visit to the city would not be complete without some exploration of the history there. You can purchase a 5 ticket pass that allows you 5 visits to any of the 20+ cultural landmarks around the old city. A highlight for me was the Japanese bridge (which I couldn’t even get on by day because it was so crowded but looked magical at night).
Other than those two main highlights, it was a fairly relaxing time in the city. I spent most of my time drinking copious amounts of ginger tea (tra gung) to soothe a cough I later diagnosed to be dust inhalation from the motorbike trip. During all this tea drinking, I also had time to catch up on my blog, dig into my recently received 23andMe results (an apt Christmas present in my ‘finding myself’ phase of life), and help my new French-Canadian friends negotiate for their rain jackets.
I’ve also been reading, a lot. It’s been a long standing, never resolved resolution of mine to read more. With my newly found time in cafes (and long bus rides) I’ve finally been able to become a bookworm again (the 11 year old Kyle that used to get in trouble for reading another book during class shines once again). I opted not to buy/bring an e-reader and have relied mostly on hostels’ leave a book take a book policy to find my new literature. It’s been really successful. So far this year (as of Feb 5) I’ve read:
- Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
- Best American Travel Writing 2006 – Various
- Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
- Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny – Nile Rogers
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Steven King
- The Yage Letters – William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg
- A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
- The Art of Happiness – His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler
- Wind/Pinball – Haruki Murakami (Technically 9.5 as I only finished the first half. I had borrowed it from a barista and finished ‘Where The Wind Blows’ before the cafe closed. I will have to find ‘Pinball, 1973’ elsewhere)
Here’s to many more stories in the remaining 90% of 2017