Is how you say happy New Year in Vietnamese for the year of the dog. After surviving the chaos that was the airport in Saigon (think the Wednesday before Thanksgiving) we landed in DeNang, and after a 20 minute taxi ride we arrived at our amazing hotel, comfy beds, nice showers, and an awesome pool. The only problem is that our host made us move rooms three times because they overbooked the home stay over the Tet holiday.
Our first day we completed school and took a plunge into our pool before heading to the old city of Hoi An. We borrowed bicycles from our home stay to ride the 1.5 km ride to town; Caroline rode her own while the twins rode on the back of Maddy and my bicycles. It was a bit precarious at first but Caroline soon got the hang of riding and the various rules that govern the road. We typically made a habit of leaving our bicycles on the outskirts of the town due to the heavy traffic and the habit of mopeds going the opposite way on the streets.
The downtown area is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site due to the beautiful architecture and collection of streets around the Thu Bon River. The Tet preparations were in full swing, lots of clothing shops selling beautiful dresses. We decided that the girls could buy a traditional Tet dress for the upcoming celebration, although Mimi decided on a more modern design. We ate lunch and wandered across one of the main bridges to an island in the river. We took a 20 minute boat ride down the with a nice old lady that looked like she was about eighty. We ate dinner over looking the river and the town, we might have walked the girls around too much as they were pretty crabby on the way home.
The next day Julie our realtor arrived at our home stay, as was planned and we regaled our travel stories with her. We decided that since it was a beautiful day we would head to the beach and meet up with another family that she met in Ha Long Bay. We had lunch at the Salt pub on Tan Thanh Beach. The family had twins that were 8 years old, and despite a rock start we all because fast friends after playing in the ocean and sand for a few hours. Pam and Seamus were lovely people from England that are traveling for 6 months in Asia just like us. We all became mostly inseparable for the Tet holiday which was great to have another couple sets of eyes watching the girls.
On Wednesday Julie offered to watch the kids while Maddy and I went on a date for Valentine’s Day. We accepted her offer without any hesitation. We had a lovely time wandering the street of Hoi An getting a snack and drinks here and there. lots of lantern and tons of people roaming the streets. Thanks Julie!!
Thursday afternoon we invited our new friends over to our place for a pool party and then headed to the organized Tet eve celebrations in downtown Hoi An. We had dinner and had some awful service, they forgot half of our entries and tried to charge us double for beverages. We ended up getting other food at the night market before the parade and fireworks. Along the river bank there was a place for the kids to build their own floating candles. Then we sent them off into the river for to pay homage to our ancestors. Hoi An is very famous for the floating candles but we can’t help but wonder where all the candles end up, probably at the bottom of the ocean.
We had just finished our candles and the parade started, it was just a dragon followed by loud drumming not exactly what we were thinking but it works. We followed the parade past rows of carnival games and candy to a big stage. We sat down unsure when the show would happen. After an hour the children began to get restless and we realized we we were not going to make it to the beginning of the show or the fireworks. So we left our friends in search of a taxi back to our home stay. Of course it was impossible to get a taxi and my phone wasn’t working and the kids were all screaming… alas not the start to the new year we were looking for. We finally shared a taxi with this nice guy who wasn’t feeling good. We got into our beds by 11.
Friday the actual day of the Tet holiday we went and took a boat ride on the round bottom traditional boats they have here in Vietnam. Some of our boat guides were a bit crazier that other. Our guide wouldn’t let us move or paddle, others danced in their boats. I took a great time-lapse of about half the journey. Lots more adventures await us the rest of the week.