Sunday, May 20, 2012

Getting Historical in Hoi An/Hue, Vietnam

After an overnight bus ride that included dehyration, a fainting spell, and a skinned knee (perilous journey!); we finally made it to Hoi An.

We met a local on the bus who directed us to a cheap place to stay, and once our bags were put away we headed into town.  Hoi An is famous for it's custom tailored clothes, and we were on a mission to get some made.  After walking a few blocks down streets filled with stores selling nearly identical clothes (albeit very nice ones) we made it to the main market.

This Market is huge.  It stretches on forever, and once you get inside it is very easy to get lost.  You will continually get hawkers asking you where you're from, insisting that you come and see their wares, and some will simply shout "You buy something!".  As we walked through the market, unsure of the best method to choose a seamstress, a small woman approached us who spoke fairly fluent English.  She kept commenting on Johanna's beauty, and through flattery convinced us to follow her.

After walking for a long while, through a labyrinth of vendors and makeshift stalls, we finally arrived at her booth in the Hoi An Cloth Market, a large warehouse full of ceiling high shelves filled with any fabric you can imagine.  There are millions of tiny booths where women take your measurements and show you tables filled with catalogs, assuring you they can make any piece of clothing you see in there.  After looking through the catalogs and selecting fabrics, they took our measurements and gave us receipts, assuring us the clothes would be ready by 5 pm.

After that we spent the day exploring the city and enjoying the local cuisine.  At 5 we went back and sure enough they had our custom shirts ready to go.

The next morning we woke up early to take a bus to the ruins at My Son.  We made sure to find some breakfast first, and ended up sharing a tiny kids table with locals on a street corner.  It was some of the best food we've had yet, and cost a total of $2 for both of us.

After that we crammed onto a tiny bus with no A/C for an hour long ride to the ruins.  Once we got there, the guide gave us a quick history lesson then left us free to explore, as long as we made it back to the bus in time.

After taking this photo, we realized this ruin was full of bats.  And that Josh's hands were now full of guano.  If you don't know what that is, look it up.
The ruins of My Son are the most important remains of the ancient Cham empire, and also a Unesco World Heritage Site.  Some of the ruins were built as far back as the 7th century, making them even older than the ruins at Angkor Wat.  The ruins are spectacular, and the scenery here is incredibly green and beautiful.

Cat's Tooth Mountain in the distance

The writing on this pillar has almost disappeared with time

After thoroughly exploring My Son, we took the bus back to the nearest town where we boarded a small boat and headed back towards Hoi An.  Before docking there, we traveled to the other side of the river where there was a small craft village.  Most of the goods sold in Hoi An are made here, and there were some great pieces of work on display.

Wood inlaid with Mother of Pearl

After we got back to Hoi An, we were caught in our first real rain storm.  It came down incredibly hard and by the time we got back to the hotel we were completely soaked.  The hotel staff had a good laugh at us, and gave us a discount on our laundry because it was already so wet.

The next day we took a four hour bus ride to Hue.  Hue was the former capital of Vietnam from 1802-1945 under the 13 Emperors of the Nguyen dynasty.  Right off the bus we found $8 lodging and set out to see the sights.

The old part of the city is known as the Citadel, and within that is a walled in section known as the Imperial Enclosure.  Inside that is another walled area called the Forbidden Purple City, which was reserved for the Emperor, his concubines, and his eunuch servants, who posed no threat.

Everyone loves Spider-Man, no matter where you are.
Our next stop is Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.  It's a 14 hour bus ride (at least), so we've got to get on it. We'll try to post again soon.

Come to me Astral-Beast!


  1. It's beautiful out there! Photos are great! Shirts fit good?

  2. bah! hopefully they have Gatorade over there. Can't wait to see how the clothes turned out.

  3. The clothes turned out great. They are nothing too fancy looking, but are made of really light and soft materials that fit well, but are loose and flowing as well, which really helps with the heat here. You can see Josh's yellow shirt in the pictures of the My Son ruins. Johanna's shirt should appear in the next post.