Henry and I were eager to get out of ripoff central and hired a car to take us to My Son and then Hoi An. Due to some miscommunication, our driver went through the Hai Van Tunnel instead of the Hai Van Pass, which is known as the most beautiful section of road in Vietnam. We did ask him to backtrack a bit so we can get a taste of the Hai Van Pass and the view was magnificent.
My Son is an ancient temple of the Cham people. The architecture is somewhat similar to Angkor Wat but the complex is much smaller. Again, sections were destroyed by the war. We walked around, took a few photos, and hurried back to the comfort of the air conditioned car. Photos cannot capture how sticky and sweaty it felt that day.
In the afternoon, we arrived at our beach villa in Hoi An. Although the An Bang Seaside Resort is located about 3 miles from the town’s center, it is the getaway we really needed. Our villa, the Mango House, is a large open-plan room with a huge bed, seating area, modern bathroom, and showers both indoor and out. There’s also a comfortable outdoor couch and outdoor kitchen and dining area on the patio. The best part is that we’re only 150 feet away from a beautiful beach. Just a short way along the beach area a dozen beach bars so it’s a perfect location for relaxing.
We went to the same beach bar two days in a row and found out that the bar has two menus with the same items but different prices. When I pointed out to the waitress that the French fries were cheaper the day before, she went back to get the other menu and told us that she would give “special discount to you!”
Our accommodations include free bikes so we took one on the first day to ride into town. About 2/3 of the way there, we saw a few outdoor restaurants with a lot of locals and we decided to dine there instead. 3 miles ended up feeling pretty far so for our second attempt at going to town, we rented a motorbike. Henry is getting quite good at riding them; however, the poor quality of the helmets we are given worries me.
While Hoi An town has a quaint charm to it, it is clearly a tourist trap. The entire central area has become a giant backpackers area and trust me, I am no backpacker. The “attractions” consist of pagodas, temples, and houses and we’ve seen plenty of those already throughout our Vietnam trip.
We’re so glad we stayed in our beach villa. It is a splurge for Vietnam but where else in the world can you have such an amazing private villa by the beach for only $73 a night? There are only 3 houses at this mini resort now and each one is unique. The Mango House is perfect for 2; the Avocado House is also made for 2 but it doesn’t have AC, which is something we really value.
We met a Canadian on our day tour to Ninh Binh who raved about abseiling in Hoi An with Phat Tire Ventures and so we signed up for it while we were in town. We did 3 rappels down the Marble Mountains: 45ft, 80ft and 190ft. Being as clumsy as I am, of course I sucked at it although it was a lot of fun. Henry was more of a natural at climbing up and down things; perhaps he was a monkey in a past life. The group encouraged me to go first on the last descent. It was a dark hole called Hell’s Cave and I could not see the bottom from the top. After walking and “jumping” down the wall, I reached the bottom, which turned out to be a sanctuary for the devil. There were horrific statues and carvings everywhere in the cave. It’s not exactly my cup of tea; however, it was very interesting.