Vietnam 2012: Day 1 & Day 2

Part 1: Hoi An and My Son, Part 2: Hoi An - Da Nang - Hue, Part 3: Hue, Part 4: Train Ride + Saigon, Part 5: Saigon, Part 6: The End

This trip was planned, hmmm..., since May? The initial plan was to choose between Tokyo, Myanmar and Vietnam. Tokyo's air fare was amazingly cheap when Lim Tino checked it, but as I was concerned about the expenses there, and everyone was 三心两意, and by the time Tino checked again, the price escalated, so Vietnam was the final resort.

I must give Tino a round of applause and gratitude and a token of appreciation here as she did all the travel arrangements, from accommodation, transportation, places to visit etc etc. All we have to do is pay. Frankly, even the moment I stepped foot on the soil of Vietnam, I thought Vietnam is at Myanmar's area!! LOL!! (Yes I did get eyerolls from everyone)

This time around, four of us: Me, SY, Keong and Tino were on the trip. Initially 8D7N seems a little too long, but after I came back, it's not enough!

Day 1:
AA cancelled our flight and change the flight time to the afternoon, which caused us losing half a day. By the time we arrived Da Nang, it's about 4pm local time. Mr. Philong, the tour agent who Tino did all the reservation with, picked us up from the airport. Mr. Philong is an English-speaking tour guide with a cute accent, Tino and me couldn't stop mocking his 'Marble Mountain' pronunciation.

All the houses look like monopoly house, block by block

Da Nang is a quiet town with wide roads and few vehicles, three lanes with majority motorbikes. Our first place to visit is the marble shop along the marble street, a typical 'compulsory stop' arranged by the tour. Then to the beach where we can see Son Tra Peninsula from our side. I don't know much about Son Tra Peninsula, but we can see vaguely (because of the fog) the white-colored Buddha statue standing by the island. It's windy and cloudy, the wave was freaking huge! There's some locals riding a 'boat' though in this tough weather.

By the time we reached Hoi An town, it's about 6pm but it's already pitch dark. Oh yeah btw Vietnam is at GMT +07:00 time zone, so it is an hour early than Malaysia, but the sun rises quite early (4-5am) and set quite early too (5-6pm), just like in East Malaysia. We stayed at Cam Chau Homestay, which is literally staying in someone's house! Comparing to Da Nang, Hoi An is so much more serene, quiet and peaceful little town, a little like Caine, a quiet small town in Australia.

The walk out to the town from our homestay is quite a distance! Phew~ Following the tour guide's suggestion, we had our first local dinner at the Mermaid Restaurant, because it was 'crowded'. Yes, that is what the tour guide suggested us:"eat at places with a lot of people inside." :|

FYI, there is this 'regional variations' of food in different regions/places, so make sure you ask about the local delicacies from the tour guide/locals when you visit a place in Vietnam.

This is Cau Lau (pronounced 'cow' lau). It is yellow noodle with prok slices, broth, vegetables and some crackers, mixes all of them together and makan. Since it was our first local food, we found it quite tasty (but the next day, it didn't even close to tasty =.=... OK lah maybe not so bad but it's not the best loh). FYI, Cau Lau can only be found/eaten in Hoi An.

This is 'White Rose'. It is rice flour dumpling filled with ground shrimp and vegetables served with sweet & sour sauce. Just like I said, first meal is always full of surprise, but often bring disappointment.

After the meal, we explored around the town to look for potential shops for souvenirs. We came across a traditional folk games by the river.
There is a woman and a man singing at the front stage in Vietnamese (so I literally didn't understand one single word), people sitting in groups with board on their hand with some writings, till the end of the song, suddenly one group of people yelled happily and they won the game. I asked the tour guide the next day about the game, it's like a guessing game, to guess what word do the 'singer' use at the end of the sentence, but since I can hardly understand his accent, I couldn't understand the game -.-

Day 2:
We woke up early, 4am local time to be exact, for our second day trip. Oh yes, our homestay owner, Madam Hue doesn't speak English at all. Since we had complimentary breakfast (home cooked meal yo~~), we get to choose our preference food from a list, and since she can't speak English and we obviously can't speak Vietnamese, hand sign is the best communication tool! :)

Half of the day was covered with a tour to My Son Sanctuary and a boat tour back to the town.

My Son (pronounced 'Mee San') is a ruined Hindu temple built by the Cham people, to the worship of the god Shiva. The word 'My Son' means beautiful mountain. It's about one and half hour drive from Hoi An town.

As a big fan of nature, this kind of 'temple in the middle of jungle' totally blew my mind! Since it's rainy and cloudy, the air was fresh, the sun was rising and everything look so green and godlike breathtaking. (I expect this kind of scenery when I visited Angkor Wat, and that was quite disappointed, but I still admire Angkor Wat very much!!!)

This is Linga altar (in my note I wrote Siva Altar, I think it represents this). Linga is the long stone and altar is the 'platform' under it. This statue was placed for people to come and 'pray' for the sake of having many children, especially men. You know what I mean when you look at the shape of the linga :) The tour guide kept making 'those' jokes and acted paiseh LOL cute~

In one part of the temple compound, there is this small building served as meditation room. In here it shows how magnificent the ancient people is in construction and architecture. The construction of the temple here is more or less like the procedure used in Angkor Wat compound (must be the SOP back in those days): the bricks and stones were piled up with bamboos as support, and the bamboos were burnt for the purpose of 'gluing' the bricks together.
^ ...and this is result of the process, after hundreds and thousands of years, it is still as good as new...

* compared to the technique used in the modern days, with cements and stuff to stick the bricks together, it already moldy and mossy after merely few tenth of years.

This is a Shiva statue. According to the legend, Shiva has a blue neck because he drinks the lethal poison to save the world. On the statue, particularly the hands on top of his head, is what makes him very incredible. I tried to describe it in words, but phrasing it in my head alone sounds super idiot, so... pass~

After the My Son tour, we headed back town on a boat tour. 阿母 (our nickname for Madam Hue) prepared a garden breakfast for us!!

Baguette, omelet and pancake

Pho Bo and milk coffee
After breakfast, we rented bicycles from her and started our tour around Hoi An ancient town. They have this kind of visiting system where you pick up a ticket from any ticketing booth (we bought ours at the booth in front of the central market) for VND 120,000 to explore five sightseeing places. There is a list of places to choose from, such as Japanese bridge (a must!), temples, communal houses, museums, old/ancient houses, Chinese assembly halls, handicraft workshop and traditional arts performance, etc. It is advisable to plan the sightseeing places beforehand, like check their opening and closing time, thus you can plan your route around the town without wasting much time.

The Sightseeing ticket
All of the sightseeing places are scattered around the town, the fun part is cycling around the town with a map on one hand, and search of the places like a treasure hunt!

Japanese Bridge
Ever since Mr. Philong told us it is a must to visit Japanese Bridge, we became somewhat obsessed with labeling 'Japanese bridge' to any bridges appear in front of our eyes. This is the 'official' Japanese bridge that requires ticket to pass through (literally).

Tan Ky Old House
Among the old houses available to visit, Tan Ky Old House is the rather famous. One of the features is the house is long and narrow, I mean very narrow. In fact even the modern houses around Vietnam are long and narrow.

The magic spinning table
Now, THIS is one unexpected event. The weather was unpleasant, it started raining, and we were nearly out of visiting places. If I'm not mistaken We entered one of the communal houses, which is linked to another temple at the back, and since our plan was kinda messed up, 'What the hell...'. As we walked around this temple, it started raining heavily and we were stuck there. While staying away from the rain, an uncle approached us, and led us to a small round table next to the long table we were sitting at, and THAT was when magic happened! (You can google/youtube 'magic spinning table Hoi An)
Apparently, the table was supposed to be at somewhere else, but I really don't know how did it end up there, and we were too astonished to ask about it...

We have one dirty little secret/tip to share though. Although the ticket is limited to 5 visiting places, you can 'accidentally' or 'unintentionally' skip the ticket check point and earn yourselves one more spot. We were 'blend' into a tour group while visiting some of the places, and the ticket checking personnel were too busy checking the group ticket, they eventually missed ours! So there you go, one free ticket...

After the town cycling and visiting, we cycled to a beach which is about 6km from the town.

At the end of the day, we had our dinner in one of the restaurant by the riverside, and our choice of restaurant is based on how friendly/热情 the waiter approach us! LOL... And we drank like it's the end of our Vietnam visit...

This is Vietnam style pancake. Although the fried pancake seemed edible enough, there is this paper thingy for us to wrap the pancake with vegetable and herbs, dip in their special sauce, and nom nom nom... By the way, the beer is good!! Tipsy night for me :)

 Extra travel tips:
1) VND 120,000 for 5 visiting places, yet we 'unintentionally' visited 6-8 places in total :p
2) Be aware of the bicycle parking places. Some places charge a small amount of money whereas you can park freely at the visiting places.
3) The triangle-shaped Vietnamese hat costs at about USD1 or VND 20,000. Keong was 'cheated' as he bought his at VND 50,000.


Popular posts from this blog

Awareness: “Charlie” atau Penyakit Kulit Kumbang Rove (Paederous Dermatitis)

ETS Experience: Arau - KL Sentral - Arau

Danok One Day 'Decent' Trip