The old town of Hoi An, in central Vietnam, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are some historic old buildings to check out in the old town, but for me the city was at its most charming when we were meandering through the streets. I’ve read in multiple places that Hoi An is the best place to go for custom goods. Need some shoes? A new suit? Someone in Hoi An can make it for you. There are shops selling custom made outfits EVERYWHERE you look. I got a cute dress from a very nice lady to who made fun of my indecision. Having to choose a fabric for a custom made dress is a perfect opportunity for my commitment anxiety to come out. She also kept hugging me, so clearly she wasn’t concerned.
We took a free half hour language class at a place called the Life Start Foundation. It’s a charity that runs a gift shop and offers some classes. The charity works to help disadvantaged Vietnamese families become self-sufficient. For half an hour we learned some key Vietnamese phrases. Too bad we didn’t do this at the beginning of our trip. When I arrived in Vietnam I was surprised that Vietnamese uses Latin letters, but uses different accents. While I didn’t know what they said, I was able to read all of the signs.
Hoi An is so pretty and picturesque. The river running through town is lined with bars and twinkly lights. One night we had drinks on a boat on the river while a guy with the most perfect hair ever played guitar. Another night some very nice guys secretly covered our bar tab. We also learned how to make some yummy Vietnamese food. I’m going to keep taking cooking classes everywhere I go and someday open an international restaurant.
All in all Hoi An is a perfect place to just meander for a few days.
From Hoi An we traveled to Mui Ne to see the sand dunes. The sand dunes were cool, but I think the most memorable part was getting there. From Hoi An to Mui Ne we took a 14 hour train. Yes, you read that right, 14 hours. We were supposed to leave at about 11pm and arrive at noon. We got to the train station at 9:30. The train didn’t leave until 2am. Sat in the train station for 5 hours. Already off to a great start.
We decided to save money and booked a cheaper ticket on the train. Instead of 2 bunk beds on each side of the cabin, there were 3. The cabin wasn’t bigger, they just crammed two extra beds into it. Add to it a cabin companion who periodically yelled into his phone. Very loud and very angry. That might have been the longest 14 hours of my life. Even long flights are preferable.
After Mui Ne we took a bus to our last destination of the trip, Ho Chi Minh City. The bus was only 4 hours. It was a great 4 hours. The most comfortable bus ride I have ever experienced. The seats were like beds and there were 2 levels, like little bunk beds in a bus. The three of us got a sweet triple seater in the back. We were very close and cozy.