During the Lunar New Year break, we visited Vietnam. Vietnam has a really beautiful culture and it was nice to visit in such a joyous time. We went from the North to central Vietnam. We visited Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An in a week. My boyfriend used to live in Hue so he was a great guide. We’d both visited before so we didn’t feel much pressure to visit the traditional “must-see” sights in Hanoi, Halong Bay or Ho Chi Minh City.
In Hanoi, we really took it easy. I’d just had a lump surgically removed from my hip so it was almost like doctor’s orders. We strolled around the lake and smiled at all of the families taking New Year’s photos in their new outfits. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves. The weather was pretty perfect- not really warm or cool and sunny. The tree branches swayed in the wind and flowers were in bloom. It was idyllic. We eyed some of the touristy goods, but resisted the temptations. We slowly sipped some delicious thick sweet Vietnamese coffee. One time when we were eating pho on tiny stool, we looked at my wound and when we looked up, a massive group of European tourists was just on the other side of our table, snapping photos of the meat hanging in the pho stand behind us. We were slightly embarrassed, but think it’s funny already.
We got an overnight bus to Hue. We met at the ticket booth at 6. The bus left at 7 and we arrived at 5. The bus had reclined “sleeper” seats, which are a little short for my tall body, but overall not tooo uncomfortable.
In Hue, Noa was at home. His demeanor was instantly more comfortable. People recognized him as we toured around the town. He hadn’t told many that he was coming so they were mostly quite shocked to see him. We walked along the slow river and through the park. We ate at restaurants that used to be his regulars. We drove all around town on a rented motorbike while he told me stories of his past at the different landmarks we passed. We took our time drinking more coffee. We visited the Thien Mu Temple. It’s a beautiful little complex along the Perfume River (Huong River). It was very colorful and there were several families in their finest there taking pictures. We also went to the Hue Imperial City (citadel). It’s a massive walled section of the city. People still live inside and there’s a museum including temples, courts and gardens. Hue was full of lovely places to walk around.
We took a bus to Hoi An. The ride was pretty scenic, largely along the coast. When we arrived, we had lunch then hired a taxi to take us to the beach. The main beach Cua Dai has had a lot of erosion so we opted to go to Cam An instead. It was just up the coast and we’d seen it on the bus ride in. It was nice to lay in the sun and hear the soft rolling waves. I couldn’t go in with my wound, but I was happy to read my book and relax.
Hoi An is a neat old city that has been converted to a tourist center. No cars or motorbikes are allowed inside and it’s a good thing because it’s packed with pedestrians and cyclos. There are lots of tailor shops, souvenir shops, and restaurants. The architecture is the true highlight though, I think. We also enjoyed looking at the rainbow of local wooden lanterns. There were special displays of large lanterns for the New Year too. We wound up and down the alleys then crossed the Thu Bon River for dinner. Restaurants on the other side of the water were less expensive. We sat at a table outside. We figured the best view is probably of the old city reflected on the river anyway.
It was a short trip, but a nice change of pace. We enjoyed the fresh nourishing food and the festive atmosphere. Noa enjoyed seeing some familiar friendly faces. I enjoyed seeing something new in a place I’ve been before.