Historic Hoi An
Hoi An is a gem of a town. The perfect blend of beaches, cheap (but stylish) accommodation, beautiful architecture and what has to be the best food in Southeast Asia. We’ve eaten pretty well on our travels (have we mentioned that?) but never enjoyed so many incredible restaurants in one place, our favourites being Morning Glory (still number one six months on), Bazar Cafe (tender fish cooked in clay pot….mmmmm) and Xua (the second best Pho in Vietnam).
Cars and motorbikes are banned from entering the historic Old Town, so we were free to explore the cobbled alleys on foot, admiring the pastel-shaded buildings that made us feel like we were strolling through a Tuscan village.
Tailors would beckon Elliot from their shop doors, measuring tape in hand, promising to fit him out in the perfect suit, while old men on Cyclos creeked slowly through the streets offering rides to the laziest of tourists.
By night, the whole town glowed with hundreds of lanterns. Soft orbs of colour lit up the streets, bridges and night market, like a festival of light every night of the week. And just as we felt this was all getting sickeningly atmospheric, a gentle French love song began playing from speakers carefully positioned on lamp posts across town.
At 9:55pm, the weird but pleasant “concert for pedestrians and cyclists” culminated with a public announcement of the 10pm curfew, which all businesses (save for a few isolated bars) strictly observed. More than once, we disgraced ourselves by breaking curfew and cycling back to our hotel at 11pm, the streets pitch black with not a soul in sight.
And it was on one of these dark nights that we encountered the first major emergency of our trip. Elliot cut his little toe on a rock while wheeling his bike down the street. The trauma of the injury and subsequent blood loss prompted him to seek the aid of a 24-hour pharmacist and contact his medical student sister in London for advice. Both told him to put a plaster on it.