June 14, 2016
Today we woke up feeling a lot better than yesterday. We had an easy morning since we had until noon before checking out and when our hotel in Hoi An was going to pick us up. We went up to the roof for breakfast earlier and it was naturally a lot busier. The roof at Hadana has 360 views of Da Nang (Tim: more like 270), which is quite nice. Since the air conditioning inside isn’t that strong, it didn’t make much of a difference to eat outside under an umbrella.
The breakfast at Hadana Boutique Hotel was okay. There are a lot of Vietnamese breakfast options, which are good, but nothing really seemed that appetizing to us. We both had a bowl of noodles, which tasted like borsch soup with rice noodles. We headed back to our room after breakfast, packed up, and waited for our car to come.
We’re staying at Villa Orchid Garden Riverside Hotel (it’s confusing because there are a lot of hotels that have orchid, garden, and/or villa in its name) and paying $36 CAD/night. We booked a car through them to pick us up from Da Nang to bring us to Hoi An. We read that taking a public bus is uncomfortable and the drivers will try to charge you more and even threaten to kick you off the bus if you don’t pay more. We opted for the more comfortable option and just went with the hotel’s car for $19 USD for a 30 minute ride.
The hotel driver picked us up in a Toyota Forerunner SUV right on time. I think the hotel just contracts out drivers and they don’t work exclusively for them. He didn’t speak any English and didn’t really smile or anything. It was a bit awkward and he was a pretty crazy/impatient driver. On the way to Hoi An, we drove along the beach rode (the one we walked on yesterday) and drove past all the fancy beach resorts.
We arrived at the hotel and were told to wait to be checked in. The lady at reception was with another group that was checking in so we had to wait. We were seated on the patio and given cold ginger tea and a fresh banana pancake while we waited. The hotel is very quaint and is right on the Thu Bon River. When it was our turn to check in, the lady at reception gave us a run through of Hoi An and what there was to see, restaurants to try, and safety tips.
We were shown to our room and it was pretty nice for what we’re paying. The room was nicely air conditioned, clean, and it had an outdoor washroom. There is a nice pool in the courtyard of the hotel, which is where we spent a good chunk of the afternoon. Weather today was another balmy 38°C so we didn’t want to make our way towards Hoi An’s Ancient Town (or Old Town) until later in the afternoon since we planned on seeing the town at night.
At around 4pm we got ready and headed towards Hoi An’s main area. We walked along the river for about 20 minutes before getting into the heart of the city. Hoi An has a very small town feel to it, especially as we were walking along the river, it was fairly quiet and calm. But once we got into the Ancient Town, it was pretty packed with tourists and backpackers.
Our first stop was Banh Mi Phuong, a place famous in Hoi An for being the best banh mi in the city. It became internationally known when Anthony Bourdain came here on an old No Reservations episode to Vietnam and he had a banh mi with a fried egg on it. They have a picture of Bourdain there but they don’t clearly show what sandwich he had (Tim: The picture looks like a paused screenshot from a youtube clip). I think the banh mi he had isn’t even an option on the menu, it’s basically a banh mi with everything on it (including a fried egg). I tried the BBQ pork banh mi and Tim ordered the ham and pate (both were 20,000 VND = $1.15 CAD). We sat inside and ate our very late lunch. I really enjoyed the banh mi. The bread was very good (shaped differently than the other ones we’ve had before) and there was a bit of spice to the sauce they put in which was quite tasty. The BBQ pork had crackling on it, so it was like the Chinese roasted pork with all the good banh mi toppings, which was delicious. I like how they also drizzle sauce directly on the bread after they spread the pate on the bottom. While we were eating, we saw a lot of locals buy bags on the banh mi to go.
The next order of business in Hoi An was to browse around at the tailors in town to see if we could get something made. We had a few places in mind that were recommended by Chloe, the hotel, and TripAdvisor. The first one we saw was called Be Be Tailors. It is rated second on Trip Advisor and also recommended by the girl at the hotel. I read online that they are one of the more pricey tailors and they don’t bargain. We sat down for a quick consultation and their prices were quite high, even for North American standards. The lady at the hotel was right, they don’t bargain. Since the price wasn’t in our budget and the ladies weren’t that friendly or very helpful, we left.
We headed down the road to Peace Tailors (who Chloe used last year). When we arrived they were quite busy with other clients – this is probably a good sign! We were helped by one of the sisters (most of the ladies are sisters apparently and are all super nice) and I showed her a picture of a dress I liked. She brought us upstairs to show us the fabric they had to choose from. I picked the fabric and got measured (which was probably pretty gross since I was sweating so much). Tim then decided to look into buying a suit for himself. He decided to get a navy blue suit, since he doesn’t have one and it’ll be good for summer weddings (the only time Tim wears suits). They took Tim’s measurements and they said to come back tomorrow around 4pm for a fitting. We’ll see how it goes!
After spending a good chunk of time at Peace Tailors, it was dark out and we made our way into the Ancient Town. I enjoyed the Ancient Town because scooters and cars were not allowed to drive! It was also really pretty at night because there were so many lanterns and lights around the town. You could pay to make a wish and put a lantern with a candle into the river. We walked through the nightmarket that surrounded the river and browsed through all the souvenirs and knick knacks. We’ll come back during the day so we can see all the buildings in the light.
Since we had the banh mi quite late, we weren’t really hungry, just really thirsty. We had already drank all the water we brought out with us so we bought a few drinks while we were out. For dinner, we decided to just get banh mi again from Phuong’s and bring it back to the hotel to eat. I ordered the same thing and Tim ordered a sausage banh mi.
As usual, when we got back to the hotel, we were so hot and sweaty so the first thing we did was take a cold shower. We watched a few episodes of the shows Tim downloaded and the O.J. Simpson (Tim: 30 for 30) documentary before we slept.
Steps today: 13,000