Escaping typhoons
Hanoi and Hoi An, Vietnam, 2008-08-19 12:00 by Martin and Laerke
Hanoi was our first stop in Southeast Asia. We actually hadn’t planned to travel through SEA, but we needed some of the charm of these countries – smiling faces, cheap yummy food and great relaxing beaches. In Hanoi we wandered around the bustling, traffic filled streets taking in all the commotion, and when our feet got tired and our stomachs started rumbling, we sat down at one of the many great restaurants, serving delicious food; everything from local flavors, French fusion cuisine to really tasty sushi. The latter which we enjoyed in our own private bamboo and paper walled cubical, at a low table on the floor, feeling oh so Japanese. A little reluctantly we signed up for a tour of the surrounding countryside, we felt that just eating and strolling might be a bit to lazy! The tour was actually good, despite the fact that we DID stop at a souvenir emporium and yes there was a VERY annoying French middle aged guy, who was way to loud, only spoke French and wore a pair of way too tight, butt-hugging shorts. But the countryside was beautiful and we stopped at a cute little temple and then there was a boat trip, where we were paddled along in a canoe by two very tiny Vietnamese women. The scenery was a lot like in Southern China with forest coated limestone cliffs, set amidst lush vegetation cut through by rivers - peaceful and charming.
Going south we stopped at Hoi An; which in appearance is a charming, small city with an astonishing center, comprised of crumpling colonial buildings in cheerful bright colors. Again the food was great and we got some superb cakes – something which we had longed for.
Lounging at the beach close by was great way to spend time and get a little color to our white bodies. There is however this vibe in the city, it’s that of a city that has been completely conquered by tourism. Too many tailor shops cram the city center, and many of the locals here lack the friendliness of their country fellows. If it wasn’t for the people, this place would be perfect! After being driven out of the city by the greedy locals, we toyed by the idea of going further south to Ho Chi Minh City and Phu Quoc Island. But a typhoon was coming in, so we decided to cut it short and move on...