Sunday 4 June 2017

Last week in Hoi An and and my last two nights away chilling at the beach in Danang...

My last week in Hoi An (Ancient town part) was a far more social/fun one and I had a great time.

I did a site inspection/checked out the Anantara Resort which is a stunning hotel just down the road from my house which also overlooks the river .  It is truly a beautiful property and the nicest, close to the Ancient/old town hotel I have seen.  To be fair its 5 star and should be.
Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me so best to checkout the photos on instagram - kiwitravelguru

Also close to my house and the central market was The Ha An Hotel.  A nice hotel with a pool and all rooms had an outdoor area or balcony.  Again a great option for an easy walk into town for all the shops, restaurants.

I finally found Hito Café  (344/2 Nguyen Duy Hieu St ) which I knew was just around the corner from my place and had gone looking for it since I moved to the house in March after meeting one of the owners at the March expats get-together.  Run by two great guys, that serve great coffee and food.  It is off the main road down (which is why I kept missing it and they were just going to put the signs back up which had come off. ) .  It is truly a hidden gem - a lovely space and comes complete with two of the cutest kittens.  Make the effort to find it is well worth it.

Another coffee place which was also around the corner from me was Mia Coffee which I could always grab a good takeaway coffee and Panini on a busy workwise day.

I spent the 26-30 April at The Historic Hotel Hoi An as my lease was up.  I could have stayed the extra 4 days at my place, but it was getting hotter I was hanging out for a pool again and to justify it I believe it is always better to stay at a hotel to really recommend it!  They also generously offered me an agents rate at a busy time.
The historic Hotel has big rooms, a great pool area and while in a different location to the Anantara or Ha An it is minutes away from the old town.  They provide a free shuttle to Cua Dai where they use the private beach of the Hoi An Beach hotel (I think I didn't see any other ones out that way and to be fair I didn't use it as I hung out at the pool).

I got my legs waxed (again) at the Hoi An Day Spa which was nice and handy (as I was now around the corner at the Historic Hotel although I had gone there previously on a recommendation) and the ladies there were fantastic.  Not a single hair was missed thanks to a fluorescent lamp /strobe light .  A very unique but thorough wax job.

I caught up with Cath, an Australian expat also working remotely for some great wine and the best money bags (huge...and packed with shrimp etc) I've ever had at White Marble .They have Vietnamese and Hoi An Cuisine along with light snacks (and meals) but wine and platters worked for us. They have premium international wine list with 13 wines by the glass - heaven!!  Actually last time I was here I went there and had a glass of wine but had no idea it was the best in town.
To be honest as it was so close to the hotel I went back the next night for the money bags and a glass of wine.

On the Friday before I left town I caught up with Sharon (Hoi An Now) and her friends for dinner at MIX (Greek restaurant - up from the Japanese bridge) which I had heard so many good things about.  Great food, lovely owners and we timed it well as there were people waiting outside to get in.  It deserves the amazing reviews it gets.  Another great night out.
While you are probably questioning the logic of going to a Greek restaurant in Vietnam, the reality is after 8 weeks of mainly Vietnamese food which I love, it was really good to have a change and the idea of going was to check out as many great options as possible.....all about research.

I  then spend my last two nights at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort who on a busy long weekend/ Vietnamese holiday gave me an agents rate.  It was more than I wanted to spend but so worth it.  It was the perfect ending to an amazing 2 months.  I just loved chilled - I loved my room, the beach and the pool.  I spend my first night just chilling in a cabana (sort of) lounger on the beach listening to music on my headphones until about 10pm.  It took me that long to get through the very strong 2 for 1 cocktails from 6pm.  The staff just delivered the second after I had finally finished the first one (well after the happy hour had finished) and ended up having dinner there (on my lounger).
It's an amazing stretch of beach along from the public Khe My Beach  (china Beach)....same beach just further down.  Pools are great and the one at the Pullman was amazing ( I even had it all to myself first thing in the morning for some laps before breakfast) but in my opinion you can't beat swimming in the sea. The sea floor dropped steeply a couple of times and there were big waves but that's the beauty of the beach/sea!

I had a 90 minute hot stone massage on my last day (before I flew out) at the Ocean Spa (17 An Thuong 5 St, Ngu Hahn Son -email - which was just heavenly and I think I paid USD$15/17 + Tip for it. I swear I was so relaxed that I slept for probably an hour of it.

I went into Danang for dinner on my last night and had the most amazing pita bread and dips and crab cakes  at the Waterfront Restaurant and Bar.  After wandering the streets near the hotel in search of a recommended restaurant that I couldn't find , (I jumped in a cab in the end and went to the Waterfront). I got there too late to want a full meal but it what I had was great and it looks out onto the waterfront which is a bit of a promenade. 
Danang city is pretty amazing at night all lit up and again I think is an underrated city and I wish I had taken more time to check it out but I didn't.

How time flies...8 weeks away seems like a long time and the first 3 weeks in Hoi An were a bit lonely, I will admit. Much better after I met a few expats (and travellers) and had people to dine with.  I should have posted on the Hoi An Expats face book page seeking people to catch up for dinner with earlier!

In reality I worked as if I was home (march is always normally a busy Europe/Asia/USA early bird big sale month...April with school holidays and Easter is generally quieter so gave me a chance to check out some more hotels etc and chill a wee bit) so my vision of getting up at 6 am and working until 1 pm and having all afternoon off everyday didn't really eventuate!
Still I'm not complaining ...I had a ball.  I met some amazing people, ate and drank at some very cool places, did some great tours, and stayed at or viewed some amazing hotels. 

It was much busier than it was 4 years ago when I was last there, (more motorbikes/cars where before it was more push bikes) and it's definitely growing -a 'Second Hoi An'  development is in progress currently 
Hoi An has been voted in the top 10 places in the world to visit (The Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards 2016, voted Vietnam’s Hoi An as their readers/voters favourite city in the world to visit) so you have to expect that it will get busier.
Years ago as an agent I would have given a money back guarantee on Hoi An as everyone I sent there loved it.  To be honest as an agent I would never give a money back guarantee as there are always people who would be upset by a day of rain, or a mosquito bite, or the sight of a cockroach that supposedly ruined their whole holiday  - fortunately they are not my clients.
The Ancient/old town is a pretty town -stunning with all its lanterns lit up at night and well worth the visit.
And whilst it is getting busier, it's still a fantastic place to visit or live.....and I would go back in a heartbeat.

A big thanks to the amazing people I met and for the great contacts as a result,  to my gorgeous landlords (who spoke no English) who lived next door and their daughter who did (speak English) for making my working remotely experiment so fantastic.


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