Hoi An - Cham Island

Date: 24/05/2007 | Author: Dave

Hoi An is the City of Tailors and this is my favourite city on our travels so far. The ancient town centre here was thankfully untouched by the war. Half of the shops here in Hoi An are 'cloth shops' and I think there must be at least 500 of them. I doubt that there is one tourist or backpacker here that is not having something made.
Yaly is the obvious choice if you want to spend a little more money and avoid the stress of choosing from the rest. I had two suits made by Yaly and they do look stush. These two plus about twenty other dresses, shirts and shorts all for less than I would have paid for just one tailor made suit in London. Oh yes, and postage here is cheap and easy as well. The post office comes to your hotel with a box and some scales.
We had been recommended the Thanh Xuan (Long Life) Hotel by two separate south bound travellers that we had met on our way up the country. The Thanh Xuan recently added a pool and breakfast area out the back adjacent to the paddy fields that we view from our room. Only 500m walk to the ancient town and if there are friendlier hotel staff anywhere in Vietnam I will eat my hat. Not the hat the Kea stole in NZ but my new one.
5 Kms away from the Ancient Town is the beach. It is magnificent. A wide clean beach stretching 30km north to Da Nang and barely a hotel in sight. From this beach on our first day we saw Cham Island. Two years ago foreigners needed a permit to go there but now, day tours are free of such paperwork. We discover that it is possible to also stay overnight in tents on a beach there. We have enough time in Hoi An to do this so we break our daily ritual of Yaly visits and head on over. As well as us on the boat, there are only two other locals on a day trip. We stop first at a village for a stroll and then our boat takes us on to our beach. It looks idyllic but there are signs that they are preparing to build. They have already formed a bed for the creek to stop it cutting a random path to the ocean when the rains come. (Oct - Mar) Still, this beach is pretty postcard perfect and we are almost alone. There are two small restaurants here and a few divers are drinking at one of them.
Late that afternoon our bliss is slightly dented by the arrival of (ironically) a group of Vietnamese travel agents. They have arranged to play loud music on the beach after dinner. Their idea of paradise differs slightly from ours. Our guide, Hwa, pitches our tent and then we drag it 50m down the beach to a more intimate location. I had a chat with Hwa yesterday as we walked through the village. He said that eventually you will be able to get jet skis here and those parachutes that you tow up behind a boat. I knew he was not joking and explained to him that the availability of jet ski hire is reason enough for us to avoid a beach. I don't think my comment even registered in his top 100 tourism anecdotes.
That night, high tide comes closer to our tent than I would have expected. We all awake, dry, at 6am. It was not the best nights sleep I have ever had (should have levelled out the sand first) but I dare say as a camping location it would be very hard to beat.

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