We traveled from Hue to Hoi An yesterday by bus. It was said to say goodbye to such a great city. We met so many great people and learned so much. It took about three hours to get here. On the way we passed through Da Nang, the third largest city in Vietnam, and it was crazy. There were so many cars everywhere; it was really weird to see, especially compared to the motorbike and bicycle-clogged roads of Hue (and now Hoi An as well, which is even smaller). We got to see so much of the Vietnamese mountains and countryside along the way. It was so beautiful...everything is lush and green, but the shacks along the roadside remind us of just what country we are in.
Only two other girls and I decided to go on to Hoi An yesterday. The rest of the group went on a tour of the DMZ. I couldn't stand the thought of 13 hours on a bus (not when I have to get on a plane for another 16+ hours in just a few days!). And especially when there is so much to do in Hoi An. Sophia went on the DMZ tour, though, so she'll probably have lots to say about that when she gets back--miss history major has been looking forward to that trip ever since we found out we were going to Vietnam! I can't wait to hear her talk about it.
Yesterday we explored Hoi An by bike as soon as we got here. It was absolutely wonderful to be back on a bike again! I really miss riding my bike. Although the motorbikes were tempting to rent instead...but Hoi An is smaller and bikes are just easier to deal with here. This city is a lot more touristy, because it is right by the beach. Sometimes I see more white people than Vietnamese. There are a lot of resorts by the beach, some of which look very pricey. Hoi An is also a city known for its shopping. In particular, you can get any article of clothing, even shoes, made exactly to fit your body. They have some really beautiful stuff here. But the shops are EVERYWHERE! Every time we walk somewhere we are bombarded with "you stop in my store please? You buy something?" At least the people are friendly.
This morning I did yoga as the sun rose over the roof of our hotel. Eva, one of the C of C grads who is staying over here for a while working with Think About the Children, studied in Bali and is an accomplished yoga practicer--she showed me a few positions. It was the most wonderful way I could ever imagine waking up on what turned out to be an incredibly gorgeous day. We ate breakfast across the street (fresh mango with sweet yogurt...delicious) and then went for a little walk through just a few shops. But around noon we hopped back on our bikes and headed for the beach. We swam in the South China Sea, and it was so awesome! The water was perfect, and there were these incredible mountains just a little ways out on the horizon in the ocean. That's where all the resorts are, and now I can see why.
We stopped at a little outdoor cafe on the river on the way home. The sunset over the river could not have been more gorgeous. When we got back to the hotel, we decided to eat dinner at a restaraunt near the market that supports Blue Dragon, a charity that Think About the Children works closely with. Blue Dragon also supports the education and rehabilitation of Vietnamese children, specifically those who have been trafficked. I had Vietnamese eggplant, and it was probably the best meal I've had yet (which is saying a lot...I've had a ton of good stuff--we can hardly stop eating around here!).
The other girls should be getting back a little bit later tonight; they have a long bus ride from Hue still to go after their tour. Then tomorrow we'll take a bus to Da Nang, where we'll fly out of to go to Ho Chi Minh City. I can't believe it's already time to go. If I'm not at the airport on the 23rd, don't be surprised--I've just had a little change of plans and decided to move to Vietnam.
Hope everyone back home is doing well!