Wow, we are REALLLY behind in our blogging....I am actually posting this from our new apartment in St. Louis. Apologies to all those die-hard followers who must be on the edge of their seats waiting to hear about the second half of our trip. I attribute our tardiness to the fact that the trip flew by and that we had an amazing time. That, plus the heat and copious amounts of inexpensive massage made us incredibly lazy!!
After Hue, Jake and I made our way down the coast to Hoi An, a town about 30 minutes drive away from Danang. Hoi An was one of the highlights of our trip; although it is very touristy (much like Luang Prabang), it manages to retain a lot of charm, especially at night when most of the shops close and the streets empty out. From our three days there, it seems like Hoi An has two main attractions: (1) delicious food and (2) affordable tailoring. We took part in both.
A shot of Hoi An's scenic Old Town area.
One of Hoi An's many assembly halls, built by Chinese traders working in Hoi An. Different halls were built for each of the major ethnic groups.
Our tailor of choice was Sun Cloth Shop, which was recommended by our hotel. We got lots of great stuff made for us, for a really good price. The turnaround time is incredible - they made my dresses in about 24 hours, and Jake's shirts took only a few hours! I've never had tailor-made clothing made for me before, so the experience itself was highly worthwhile.
As far as food goes, it was hands down our best food in Vietnam. We liked the place we ate dinner the first night (Miss Ly's) so much that we went back again the second night, only to discover an even BETTER place (Morning Glory) on our last night.
Cao Lau at Ms. Ly's. Cao Lau is one of Hoi An's special dishes --- YUM!
I also had the best tuna sandwich ever at a really cute little cafe called the Dingo Deli (halfway between Hoi An and the beach) -- the perfect lunch after hanging out at the beach.
The beautiful beach in between Hoi An and Danang. Sadly, it's being madly developed by every major hotel company imaginable!
After Hoi An, we flew to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for our final days in Vietnam. It's amazing how different Saigon seems from the rest of Vietnam (in particular, from Hanoi). The central part of city feels very European - wide, tree-lined streets, manicured parks and gardens, lots of sidewalk cafes and boutiques.
Saigon's Post Office
Notre Dame Basilica in Saigon. Apparently it gets packed at mass-time! Who knew there were so many Catholics in Vietnam?
Given our short time there, we didn't have too much time to sightsee, but we managed to fit in visits to the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace, both of which were really worth seeing. The Palace especially was cool: it has basically been left untouched since the end of the war in 1975, and you get to visit the map rooms and other offices where the military was overseeing the war.
Reunification Palace, still kept as it was at the end of the war in 1975. A definite must-see.
Gastronomically speaking, the highlights of the city were a Vietnamese BBQ place called 3T Quan Nuong, conveniently located next to our favorite ice cream place (Fanny, of course). We ordered prawns that were given to us skewered but still alive, which we sadisticly enjoyed cooking and eating with this really good salt-pepper-lime mix.
Prawns at 3T Quan Nuong. Delicious.
Fanny!!! We miss you already!!!
We also encountered a very nice Budweiser sales girl who gamely agreed to take a picture with Jake. By "sales girl", I mean these women that are in alot of the bars and restaurants throughout the city. They wear a uniform promoting the beer, and visit your table and try to convince you to buy that brand. The San Miguel girls seemed to be the most pushy -- at one place, the girl wouldn't leave our table until we agreed to buy two San Miguels!! I'm glad she did though, because it was delicious and might now be one of my favorites.
Jake and the Bud girl at 3T Quan Nuong.
Sadly, our time in Vietnam had to end at some point. We had a really great time (despite the heat) and hope we can come back again at some point. Given all the compliments we've gotten on our Hoi An tailored clothes already, we'll definitely have to go back just to get more clothes made!
Stay tuned for Jake's posts on Kuala Lumpur and SE Asian beers!