Hoi An and Cham Island

From Quy Nhon, we took a night train to Danang. We got a sleeper compartment with two sets of narrow bunk beds and tried to get a little sleep between the hours of midnight and six-thirty am. We must have slept a little, but it wasn’t the best night sleep any of us have had.

Our family on the sleeper car

In Danang, we taxied down to the city of Hoi An, a city that draws Vietnamese and foreign tourists alike.

Old Town Hoi An

We stayed in a little hostel that had a family hut to accommodate us. The hut did have hot and cold running water and AC despite being built from bamboo and palm fronds. Aside from one instance where baby rats fell from the palm frond thatching and into our bathroom garbage can, we had a good stay there.

Our bamboo house in Hoi An on An Bang Beach. Under the Coconut Tree was a cheap hostel close to the beach.
Breakfast at our hostel. I loved the passion fruit on top of the yogurt.

We spent some time on the beach that was just a hundred or so yards away.

We wandered the old City of Hoi An and took a short boat ride. We sampled the street food and released lanterns into the water.

The streets in Hoi An will filled with lanterns.
Old town Hoi An
Old town Hoi An
Boats on the Thu Bon River, Hoi An.
Getting ready to take a boat ride on the Thu Bon River.
Lanterns at night on the river
Vietnamese pizza-made on rice paper. It had onions, green onions, beef, pork and spicy sauce.
The kids sharing a banana, Nutella crepe.
Street vendor at night

We also stopped in at one of the many tailor shops and were measured and fit for some custom clothing. You pick out the design and the fabric, and twenty-four hours later you return for final alterations.

Ashley started with one simple fitted dress and impressed with the quality, fit, and price, decided on another one.

Jane ended up with two dresses as well and loved them both.

After some consideration, I got a few shirts for work as well (unpleasant reminder that this trip will end and I will have to work again). I kind of regret not getting a few more–for $20, it’s hard to beat a custom tailored shirt from what feels like very nice fabric.

Poor Nolan and Margaret just had to get dragged along while we went back day after day for more fittings of the clothes we had decided to order.

In the end, the suit with two white shirts set us back $162, Ashley’s dresses about $40 a piece, and Jane’s dresses $30 each. You can find shops there that will make a suit even cheaper than that, but this shop had come by recommendation and so we felt comfortable with it.

It did cost $90 to ship it back to the states, but if we end up liking the clothes as much as we think we will and they hold up will, it’s still a bargain.

We found great food to eat around Hoi An. From french toast for the kids, to poke bowls (with very good fish) and avacado toasts for the parents, everybody was happy. Turns out how much we like the food at any of our destinations influences our opinion of that part of the world as much as anything else (or even more for a certain couple of folks in our group).

We rented bikes one day and rode with white knuckles in the bike lane on the shoulder of a busy highway to some rice paddies where we saw frogs, water buffalo, local fisherman, and Asian kingfishers.

Rice paddies in Hoi An.
Fisherman at the rice paddies.

We also took a boat to an island off the coast called Cham Island based on the recomendation of a traveler we had met earlier. The island was a hit. We ended up staying two nights instead of the one we had planned.

On Cham Island, we played for hours on a beach outside of the town, went snorkeling amongst coral, colorful fish, and blue starfish, fished from a wooden boat, and rode around the island on scooters.

Aside from tourism, the islands main industry is fishing and it’s known for the quality of the catch. Even Ashley who previously would cringe at the thought of any seafood besides fish found out that shrimp, clams, and oysters can actually be quite good.

The seafood platter we grilled up at our table
Beach on Cham Island
Beach on Cham Island
Beach on Cham Island
Jane with her sand house that she built.
Margaret and the little beach house she found
Nolan and Jess on a scooter on Cham Island
Margaret and Jess on a scooter on Cham Island.
Scootering around the island
Buckets full or fresh seafood for sale on Cham Island.

So after a few days on Cham Island and a boat ride back to the mainland, we spent a few more days in Hoi An

With 30 days on our Vietnam visas, and 24 of them already used up, we decided to make a quick trip to the Mekong Delta and then finish up in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Margaret getting her nails painted at one of the many nail salons in Hoi An
Ashley holding a sleeping Margaret in downtown Hoi An. Margaret manages to nap anywhere.

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