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Hoi An Ancient Town

Saigon is a towering metropolis (9 million) with more opulent hotels than I have ever seen contrasted with minimalist street life. Hoi An Ancient Town (150 thousand) is a different experience. Motorbikes are popular here too, but the number makes them less scary. On our first morning at our Hoi An guest house / Airbnb / homestay Paul happily found a guitar.

Our Airbnb hosts are friendly and fed us a delicious breakfast of vegetable fried rice and egg. Noodle soup seems to be the most common Vietnamese breakfast which Paul had the next morning.

The night before our first morning in Hoi An we noticed that we were laying down to sleep on thinly covered box springs. Paul searched around the rooming house and found some chair cushions for us to sleep. The next day the host, who may have been distracted by extended family visiting, apologized and put a mattress on our bed. It's still a bit too firm but we were able to sleep on it. Maybe it's good for our backs.

We also had a massage, oddly authentic yummy Mexican food, and experienced lots of sightseeing. Hoi An is well-known for fabric, tailoring, and clothes. Just when we were feeling over-touristy and indulgent because of the high value of USD, we walked out of the city and in minutes were in rice paddies with really cute water buffalo. The baby water buffalo seemed to like us. The mama, who may be been protective, was safely tied but also did not seem agitated.

Click to expand photos.

When we first arrived in Hoi An, a world heritage site, I fell into the trap of looking through brochures offering tours and even made a list of all the possibilities. However, I appreciate how Paul is good at balancing tourism with an independent exploratory spirit.

Soon I would like to buy a ticket to go inside the interesting ancient temple we keep walking by, but yesterday afternoon we decided to instead go to the Reaching Out Teahouse. Everyone who works there is deaf or hearing impaired. Tables have a pad of paper, pencils, and little wooden blocks with phrases such as "I'm ready to order and thank you." The plant-filled vintage and relaxing ambiance contributes to the flavorful tea that is from small Vietnamese farms. Sound familiar? Vermont and Vietnam do begin with the same letter as in the Vvegan Vietnamese restaurant below.

Fun fact: Because Buddhists do not eat meat on the 1st and 15th of every month, it is possible to find vegetarian options and vegetarian restaurants everywhere we have been so far. Buddhists comprise about 15% of the population.

In keeping with Paul's exploratory spirit, we took a bike ride to see more of the rice paddies early Wednesday morning. We discovered water buffalo, eye catching lakes, and straw sculptures. You never know what you're going to stumble upon.

Later Wednesday morning we went to the pottery village. Who knew we could see the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum, the Pyramids and so much more right here at the Pottery Village Museum. As a free bonus, I now have authentic terra cotta on my purse strap because trying my hands at the pottery wheel was a little messy. Of course, deeply flavorful (always loose-leaf) Vietnamese tea was served for our refreshment.

Please click to see the full photo.

Stay tuned for more about Hoi An including Tet, river lanterns, and the beach.

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gittlesohn videos are really neat

you get to see ellen walking around with her feet

you get to see boats on hot muddy river

and the fresh fish in the market that still seem to quiver

you get to remember the time that we never

had to go out here because we were clever

we stood on the street corner reading each psalm

so the army rejected us for vietnam

fifty years later you happen to go

you left us all here in the cold and the snow

you get to be there on warm asian earth dirt

these videos are a much better gift than a shirt

thankyou e and p

from your pals back home where the buffalos…

Replying to

Thanks for the heartwarming poem, David! I love the line "these videos are much better than a shirt" because I think of this blog as a souvenir.


Hi Ellen and Paul, I'm so enjoying your travelogue, both the blog and the videos. Are you going to the Buddhist temple, Từ Hiếu Temple, where Thich Nhat Hanh moved to before he died in 2022? I'd love to hear how his legacy is kept going in Vietnam.


Thanks, Ellen. Tonight I plan on sleeping just like that Buddah

Replying to

Ha ha! Me too:)

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