Hoi An, Vietnam

January 16 – 22, 2020

We got a private van with a driver to take us from Hue to Hoi An, about 110 miles south. This was a good option considering that the price of 5 train tickets back to Da Nang and then an additional transfer service from Da Nang to Hoi An would have cost about the same and it would take at least 2 hours longer.

Hoi An is an easy town to love. It seems to be a favorite Vietnamese destination for most tourists, ex-pats and world schooling families. Petra immediately fell in love with it. Pedja and she took regular early morning walks to see the city before everyone else.
My former colleague Megan and her husband David live in Hoi An now. They used to live in Seattle before they went on a journey around the world that lasted 2 years. They recently settled in Hoi An, making it their new home base. They traded their successful, fun but busy Seattle lives of two corporate professionals for a new, free, ‘in flow’ vibe (see Flow with Meg). Their days are filled with yoga, Pilates, helping local dogs, meeting friends – they are certainly living the dream. We met up with Meg and David multiple times and enjoyed every encounter, moving that familiarity needle from ‘former colleagues’ to dear friends. Petra and I did yoga with them, and Meg also led a complimentary private Pilates session for us. Our family also joined them and their ex-pat friends for a beach fundraiser event for Australian bush fires.

Meg recommended a Chinese doctor to us, for Petra’s back and my hip issues and that turned out to be a peculiar experience with highly positive results. This doctor did not speak English but somehow, we understood each other enough that he knew exactly what we came for and both Petra and I were better off after a few visits with him.

We were in Hoi An right before the Chinese New Year and its festive atmosphere was infectious. There were flowers, fruits, and lanterns on every corner; happy, smiley and colorfully dressed people everywhere.

Hoi An is the place most tourists get tailored clothes. It seems to be a rite of passage to get some piece of clothing made while in Hoi An. Since I’ve been in ‘no shopping mode’ for months now, I couldn’t easily snap out of it and did not end up getting anything made for myself. Thank goodness for a more-than-willing teenager that made our Vietnamese experience complete. She ended up getting some custom-made shoes and 2 dresses made just for her. The experience was equally exciting and precious as the results themselves.

While we were in Hoi An, we really needed to make plans for our time in the Philippines that was coming up way too soon for us. We were to arrive to the Philippines 5 days later but had no clue about where we were going, what we were to do and we had no reservations for accommodations/local transportation. Chinese New Year made this flying by the seat of our pants even more challenging. All suitable accommodations seemed to be already booked. I was lucky to cross (online) paths with the most helpful US ex-pat living on Palawan (more about our new friend in the Philippines post). She helped me design a plan for our time in the Philippines and even provided us the best possible accommodations for our time there (more about all that in the Philippines post). The reason why I mentioned here is to explain how we ended up meeting another world schooling family in Hoi An via this new friend in the Philippines. There are many Facebook sites for traveling families and because I made connections with Bee from the Philippines, she mentioned another family that had experience traveling through the Philippines and was at the moment in Vietnam. It turned out this was a family from LA/NYC and they were in Hoi An at the same time as we were and 30 minutes later, they joined us for drinks together with Meg and David.

My love for Vietnam grew in Hoi An and I could see us spending a few months there someday when the kids are well on their own paths. Traveling can be lonely; I miss people and familiarity and comfort of friends. Meeting up with Meg and David on this part of the journey certainly contributed to our overall comfort and love for this cute town in central Vietnam.

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