stainless bowl with snails
We saw this bowl of snails on our morning walk through the farmland
(bigger version).

Thursday, November 10: in Hoi An

1. The hotel, and morning activities

vegetation on second story

Second-story flowers
(big image, small).

Buddhist worthies in a garden

Who are these?
(Big image, small).

arcade on ground level

Swim to the left, eat to the
right (big image, small).

view from seond floor

Downward view from the second
floor (big image, small).

the pool

The pool (big image, small).

Our room in the Almanity

Our room in the Almanity — scroll to see more than a messy bed.

Our hotel, the Almanity, was extremely elegant, and had ex­cel­lent food and ex­cel­lent facilities, including a delightful pool. I now wish that I had taken a picture of the breakfast buffet, but I think that I must have decided that I would leave all food pho­to­gra­phy to Mark.

From my journal: «Our room is huge, the bed a king-size, first time I’ve slept in a king bed for quite some time (insert pun here). It sits on a two-step platform, not a wise design for an eighty-year-old gee­zer. When I got up during the night, I was very careful negotiating the steos.

«Breakfast this morn­ing in the hotel, a very varied buffet. I even had sushi, of which I took four pieces.

writing up a bill

Writing up a bill (big image, small). Note the motorcycle in the foreground.

delivering a load

Delivering a load (big image, small).

«Then three special activities: the first was to take the laundry around the corner to a local family that does hand-washing. They charge by the kilogram, and it’s about 1/10 the cost of having it done by the hotel. As I’m writing this, though, I don’t know the results.» (In fact, the results were excellent.) The two square pictures to the right give some idea of the clutter of the es­tab­lish­ment and its integration with family life.

The whole town of Hoi An seems to be known for its quick-jiffy tailors, who will do you up a suit in no time flat. The es­tab­lish­ment we went to was highly re­com­mend­ed by Hung: it’s named Yaly Couture. At this point, my journal picks up the account:

The next special activity was a visit to a tailor. I wanted to try out the idea of a bespoke shirt, since I have been looking for the ideal cut, and es­peci­al­ly, ideal fabric. I found a nice relatively heavy cotton fabric of a pleasing pale yellow color, and was horrified to see that the cost of one shirt would be $85. I had in fact been planning to order two, till I found the price of one. Evidently the fairly heavy cotton fabric was one of their premiun materials.

tailors’ shop with no fromt wall

Open-air tailors (big image, small).

«The measuring of my torso was very extensive, and to make sure, they took four snapshots of me standing before a meter-marked wall: front, right, rear, left. Mark ordered a summer-weight blazer for $180, and was measured in even greater detail, which you can read about.»

portrait of Mark

Mark, that morning (bigger version).

For some reason, I took no pictures at Yaly Couture; all I have that begins to show the tailoring in Hoi An is the shot to the left of an open-air shop on the street, as we walked to Yaly. But Yaly was huge by comparison, elegantly appointed, and extended to two stories.

the manufacturers of the silk: Green Worms

Yummy mulberry (big image, small).

she strips the silk from the coccoon

This mut be the most boring job: the coccoons are mounted on those vertical wires (big image, small).

Gwen sits at the loom

Big image, small.

After that, a trip that is completely un­men­tioned in my journal, we went to an es­tab­lish­ment where silk­worms were being raised, the silk fibers were being stripped from the cocoons, and some fabric was being woven. In the first picture to the left, you see a tray of mulberry leaves with the silkworms dining on them. This is one time I was sorry I didn’t have my big camera with me, with its capability of doing extreme closeups shots. In the second picture, the silk fibers are being unwound from the coccoons and onto the square structure on the left of the machine. Third picture, Gwen tries her hand at the loom.

2. Late morning

heaavily-loaded scooter

Not at all heavily loaded,
in comparison to other
cycle-deliveries that we saw
(big image, small).

My journal continues: «From there, we walked through the town of Hoi An into the countryside, past rice-paddies, shrimp ponds, and fields devoted to truck-farming.» Little further description there, but I took loads and loads of pictures, arrayed below. The picture to the left was taken at about 10:00 a.m., as we were walking through town.

pretty little flowers
Spectacular vegetation here and there
(big image, small).
Tall thin residence Shrimp pond and residences, I Shrimp pond and residences, II Dark path opens out to brightness, I
Typically narrow house here in
Viet Nam (big image, small).
We begin our walk into farmland: left thumbnail, big image, small; right, big image, small. Big image, small.
another view of the dark path opening out pretty violet flower, surely a morning glory unripe papayas pretty red flower, maybe hibiscus
Another view (big image, small). Morning glory (Big image, small). Papayas (big image, small). Hibiscus (big image, small).
Tourists, strung out along the trail like ducklings Four big bags of grain on one moped Rice paddy, with herons field, with buffaloes
Ducklings or Walkers? (Big image, small.) Big load (big image, small). Rice paddy with herons (big image, small). Water buffaloes
(big image, small).
tall grass, maybe Phragmites grave markers farmer, watering farmer in field
Big image, small. Grave markers (big image, small). Big image, small. Big image, small.
Pink egg masses on a stem

Snails’ egg masses (big image, small).

Papayas at the top of a spindly trunk

Papayas (big image, small).

We continued through the heavily-cul­ti­vat­ed landscape. A num­ber of the farms had many narrow plots planted to small veg­e­ta­bles, clearly being raised for the market.

In the pictures to the left, I like the contrast between the two residences in the left col­umn. My historical imagination suggests to me that the upper one is from the colonial period before World War II, and that the lower one was built much more recently, perhaps even by the small-holder farmer who’s living in it now. I asked Mark whether he knew what the fruit was at the bottom of that column, and he protested ig­nor­ance. I don’t think it’s a pomelo, but who am I to say?

The pink egg-masses were everywhere as we were walking alongside the rice paddies. It certainly seems to be an efficient way for the snails to keep their eggs away from any fish that might be swimming there. And I can’t look at that papaya tree without thinking of the famous Artemis of Ephesus. I didn’t realize it till I read the article I’ve linked to, but there are versions of the statue found all over the lands of the Roman Empire.

Big closeup photo of the water buffalo\’s head

He looks friendly, but you don’t want to get on the wrong side of
his moods. (And you can see a bigger version, too.)

man riding a water buffalo, side-saddle

This gentleman kindly sat
for photographs for us
(big image, small).

pink flowers, glossy little leaves

Vinca, I guess (big image, small).

long narrow plots of small vegetables or herbs

Truck farming (big image, small).

purple water lilies

Big image, small.

We continued through the coun­try­side, and crossed paths with a farmer and his water buffalo, eminently pho­to­graph­able both of them. I didn’t realize till I was going through these pictures what a fine portrait of the buffalo I had managed to get. Just ignore his buddy’s feet, please.

I don’t believe I had ever seen a water buffalo before, not even in a zoo, so the numbers of these big guys impressed and interested me. And I do also like the picture of our farmer walking away from us with his beast, bottom left in the block to the right.

the two guys just standing and talking

In the place where we refreshed with a beer, Mr. Vinh chats with a member of the staff there (big image, small).

sunny open space in town

On the walk back to our bus, the group (way far ahead of the photographer) is now definitely in town rather than in farm country (big image, small).

My journal is lamentably sketchy in describing this part of the day, just says, «[the walk] took us about three hours, Mark tells me. We stopped for beer and other drinks at a little place where farm fields gave way to town, and then walked a short distance to our bus, which took us back to the Almanaty.»

3. Afternoon and evening

Journal then gets more detailed: «Mark and I took our time show­er­ing, and got down to lunch [in the hotel] a little after 1:00, and were leisurely about that, too. He had a soup with noodles and vegetables, I had very nice pan-sauteed baby shrimp, plus rice.

«After eating, we went back up­stairs and changed into swimming togs, to take advantage of the elegant pool. (What at this place is not elegant?) And there we lay for a while on a pair of parallel chaises longues. The swimming, when we got to it, was good, the chaises fairly uncomfortable, even though Mark seemed to sleep a little bit.»

The journal continues: «Before supper, we stopped at the tailors’ again, to check the fit of the clothes that had been sewn for us during the day. My sshirt looked very fine, needed nothing done to it. Mark needed several ad­just­ments to his jacket; and while there this time, he found a shirt design that he liked, and ordered three in various colors. They would make one of them up and come to our restaurant ( ! ) for it to be fitted to him.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Vinh explains various aspects
of local history (26-second clip). Both he and
Mr. Hung were very egaging personalities.

Mark in the restaurant

Brother’s Café (big image, small).

entering the restaurant proper

Big image, small.

we approach the bus by night

And onto the bus (big image, small).

«We paid, our payment to include air freight to Saint Paul, and finally were on our way to the restaurant by foot. The restaurant was the extremely elegant [again, that word] Brother’s Café. We waited inordinately long for water and our wine to be served, but once the food started coming, it was fast enough. Separate serving dishes with baby bok choi, prawns, beef, and pork. [Mark’s page has the precise menu.] We sat with Barb and John, and made good conversation, not all of it on the recent election results.

«After Mark got refitted for his shirt purchase, we got back onto our bus to the hotel.

«Our appointment for massage was for 9:15, so we had time for packing, which we pretty much finished before that. The experience was most pleas­ant, but involved an oil that needed to be washed away before bed.»

And so finished our big day in Hoi An. Tomorrow, it would be a flight to Luang Prabang, and the be­gin­ning of our short stay in Laos. Go to next day’s page to find out about that.