Friday, March 17 we arrived in Chan May Port, where we were picked up by a driver and a guide, who drove us to Hoi An, passing through Da Nang, the American Air Force Hangars from the “Second Indochina War” (or “Vietnam War”, or “American War”), Dragon Bridge, Marble Mountain, China Beach, and Monkey Mountain.

While Da Nang might be better known (and closer to Chan May’s port), we decided to take a bicycle ride around Cam Thanh (small village suburb of Hoi An), through Hai Ba Trung, next to the rice paddies and the Japanese Tomb, to the Water Coconut Palms to ride the round boats:

The round boats, made of bamboo and water coconut palm fiber, are maneuvered by a single paddle in a movement that resembles a gondolier’s.

Navigating the dense water coconut tree jungle you can see how the war must have been hell, with death around every corner.

Hoi An has clearly become a tourist attraction, since it’s one of the few traditional areas that did not get completely destroyed by the war (and it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site), but you can still see genuine parts of everyday life when you venture out a bit, like we did with our bicycles: a rooster jumping into an elevated wooden house, a teacher taking a nap in a hammock set up between the school’s entrance pillars, or a water buffalo slowly making its way out of the rice paddy.

Once inside Hoi An Ancient Town (for which you have to pay a small entrance fee, to help with its preservation), we parked our bicycles, and walked around: Japanese and An Hoi bridges over the Thu Bon River, Cantonese Assembly Hall, Phung Hung Ancient House

Quan Cong Temple

We had lunch at Morning Glory restaurant

and went shopping for amazing hand made silk at Thang Loi

On our drive back to Chan May Port, we stopped at the Four Seasons Hoi An for a quick inspection of the very sophisticated property:

and I asked the driver to stop for a minute at Da Nang beach so I could take a few pictures.

Back on board the cruise ship, we watched the movie “Mr. Nobody”. Ambitious and interesting but it fails in too many areas. I wish it had been directed by Wong Kar Wai, whose influence is clear. Nonetheless, some uncanny resemblance between the main character’s life and experiences and my own left me having nightmares all night.