Salt Water & Cau Lầu: Da Nang & Hoi An Trip

After a whopping 2 months of teaching, it was time for a much needed vacation. So we picked the beach destination with the worst forecast and cheapest flights, and took to the skies. Our first day in Da Nang was a glorious one (for those of us who didn’t return from the bar 30 minutes before we left for our flight at 5:00 AM. Go Jays!).


Da Nang, Vietnam

We checked into our hotel, grabbed some Banh Mi, and laid on the beach for a few hours admiring the view…


Da Nang, Vietnam

That afternoon, I took to the streets exploring the alleys around our hotel for some solo shopping time. Gosh darnit, there are some charming nooks and crannies in this town.

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, Vietnam

That night, we had a delightful dish only available in the seaside city of Da Nang – Gourmet burgers from Burger Bros. on a tiny side street filled with surf board rentals.

Burger Bros, Da Nang, Vietnam
God bless blue cheese.

In the morning, we headed out on a rental motorbike to ride up to Lady Buddha.

Da Nang, Vietnam
This isn’t her.
Da Nang, Vietnam
Still not her.
Da Nang, Vietnam
Be patient. There was other cool stuff up there.

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, Vietnam
Some zen dude that also isn’t Lady Buddha.
Da Nang, Vietnam
THERE SHE IS!

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, Vietnam

The rain held off just long enough for us to make the trip and fit in a little exploring further north along the coast.

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, Vietnam
Note the string holding Matt’s tiny helmet on his head.

Da Nang, Vietnam

After a long day on the bike, we decided to binge eat our way along the water, finding some gems along the way including the lovely little Oasis Tapas Bar, moved on to a tourist mecca that resembled a hipster junkyard, and ended on a collection of red plastic chairs over a few bia hoi adjacent to our hotel. (Bia hoi or “Fresh Beer” is quite possibly the cheapest beer in the world. Made on the same day that it’ll be consumed (ideally) and served draught-style, it can be found at street vendors and cafes all over Vietnam. I insist it tastes a little bit like rosemary and garlic. Which is shockingly delicious.)

Da Nang, Vietnam
The view from our hotel room in Da Nang – let the storms roll in!

The next morning we ventured south from Da Nang on a rental bike and made the 30 minute trip to Hoi An. We got a little wet before arriving at our beautiful homestay just southwest of Ancient Town – The Aquarium Villa.

A rainy ride in Hoi An, Vietnam

Easily the most spacious accommodations we’ve had in Vietnam (including our own apartment), this place had me near tears with how lovely it was. The views from sunrise to sunset were amazing, overlooking the rural fields and countryside from our patio.

Aquarium Villa, Hoi An, Vietnam

Aquarium Villa, Hoi An, Vietnam

The deck overlooking the koi pond where we were served breakfast was adorable no matter what your state of hangover, and the villa’s enormous dog (Dau) made the stay feel even more like home.

Hoi An, Vietnam
Dau getting affectionate.

Aquarium Villa, Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Aquarium Villa, Hoi An, Vietnam

When it wasn’t raining, and especially when it was, Hoi An Ancient Town was an incredible place to wander. We started nearly every morning with coffees at Cargo Club – which makes you feel like an old European aristocrat (despite still spending under $5/meal).

Hoi An, Vietnam
Matt found real bacon. Joyous.

The rest of our days consisted of finding the most appetizing spots with the best happy hours for second-lunch and second-dinner.

Ancient Town, Hoi An, Vietnam
A typical eatery adorned with lanterns in Ancient Town
The Roastery, Hoi An, Vietnam
One of the cafes that merited repeat business – The Hoi An Roastery
Ancient Town, Hoi An, Vietnam
You can find “traditional” anything in Hoi An…
Hoi An, Vietnam
Bottle of wine: $6. Bottomless satay, fried spring rolls, and omelet … let’s call them “lettuce wraps” (Bale Well) for two: $8. Being hand fed Thanksgiving dinner in an alleyway by a pushy Vietnamese lady: priceless. Bale Well is a must-eat in the city of Hoi An – Thanks, Kevin & Kathie!!

Strolling through the markets along the water and haggling for hand-painted/crafted/sewn/ everything was always a thrill, especially when you interspersed trips with a fresh beer or two from the stalls (and of course a banh mi from the Queen – it really doesn’t make sense how she can make the same ingredients taste so radically different).

Ancient Town, Hoi An, Vietnam

Ancient Town, Hoi An, Vietnam
Ancient Town, Hoi An, Vietnam

Part of our days were spent at Kimmy Tailor, because when it comes to custom suits, you know how particular Matt can be. Only the finest cashmere and blue on blue paisley silk lining will do. (Yes, I was permitted to pick it. Best day ever!) He looks quite dapper and you will see photos soon.

Ancient Town, Hoi An, Vietnam
Japanese Covered Bridge in Ancient Town, Hoi An

We were able to spend a few afternoons at An Bang Beach between the storms, exploring tiny dirt paths to come across luxury dining experiences in the middle of nowhere and attempting to polish off the coconuts so large Matt had to lift them for me to drink.

An Bang Beach, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam
Coconut curls.

Da Nang, Vietnam

Other highlights included the outdoor yoga class I took on the water at a beautiful rural restaurant property called The Field. Practicing with a few other expat teachers overlooking the fishermen and gorgeous landscaping on the sunniest morning we were in the city was absolutely perfect, and the bike ride through the countryside to get there was just as lovely.

Hoi An, Vietnam
The end of the path leading to the outdoor yoga studio.

Though he really wanted to come to yoga, I insisted on having some alone time, so Matthew spent the morning searching for the best coffee in Hoi An along with a good book to go with it.

Hoi An, Vietnam

We were sad to finally leave Hoi An, especially on such a gorgeous day, but the ride back to Da Nang for our final night before our flight was beautiful (though slightly less exciting than the monsoon we went through to get there). Checking into our resort “splurge” of the trip at the Temple Da Nang was the perfect way to spend our last day and night. Splitting a few bottles of wine on our private little beachfront patio with a view of Lady Buddha was for sure a highlight of the trip.

Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, Vietnam
Privacy, at last. There were 10 rooms at the resort, so we legitimately didn’t have to talk to anyone for 24 hours. Matt’s vocal cords were pleased.

After a last few drinks and fish & chips at any place that would accept Visa (we had 12,000 VND cash to our name after our final taxi to the airport), we caught our evening flight back to Ho Chi Minh.

It’s good to be home.

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2 thoughts on “Salt Water & Cau Lầu: Da Nang & Hoi An Trip

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