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October 25, 2004

Hoi An

Hoi An is a World Heritage listed town and it is such a well deserved honour. I really don't like the word quaint (due to its cutesy nature) but Hoi An the city is quaint and Hoi An the people are quaint. I would just like to say once again how friendly and happy the Vietnamese people are. My growing affection of Vietnam is primarily because of its people.

Obviously being too hungover to remember Mental Notes 1 & 2 of the previous blog, I caught the night train and arrived at 6am. The only redeming feature of this choice was meeting the "Irish Gang". The "Irish Gang" consisted of a nurse, a pragmatist, a "Father Ted" impersonator and a disgruntled purchasing officer with Prince Harry Red hair. We all ended up checking into a semi-flash hotel. The rooms were just a touch out of budget and just too nice to leave. Anyway, it all added to the charm of my stay in Hoi An.

One of my objectives prior to leaving Australia was to extend my culinary skills overseas by taking cooking classes in each country I travelled. Vietnam being the forth country I'd visited and the first cooking class I had enrolled in, my track record so far has been quite poor. And of course, charming Hoi An would offer cooking classes and in a charming little room, set off from a charming courtyard with a charming teacher, with part of the profits going towards the charming charity, The World Wildlife Fund. I have added to my repoitore of recipes, Vietnamese spring rolls, squid and mango salad and steamed fish in banana leaves with lemon grass, chilli and coriander. Watch out friends and family, there are going to be some serious dinner parties when I get home! The Irish Gang joined me for the cooking lesson and it was the beginning of a week of amazing sites, much card playing, great conversation, a few beers, a few laughs and a little luck of the Irish.

The next day we visited My Son, once a magnificent society, now just aging ruins, which is also a World Heritage listed site. All I can say is don't bother. Our tour guide was as exciting as watching the test pattern and the most enjoyable part of the day was taking photographs of the headless statues with our heads as replacements. I should have stayed in charming Hoi An.

So why was Hoi An so charming and quaint??
Well, I guess it was just the old world architecture still in place and in good repair. The streets were lined with little colourful shops selling their wares, which were a class above the normal touristy trinkets. And the beaming smiles of the merchants, ensured you would walk in and have a look. Occasionally, you would stumble across an opening inviting you into a courtyard, with intricate Vietnamese designs surrounded by potted trees and shrubs and an old man smoking in the corner. Every second shop is a tailor, which after the buildings is the second most famous thing Hoi An is known for. I think between the five of us, we had four suits, three shirts, three dresses, two pairs of pants and a variety of clothes adjusted to fit our ever changing travelling figures. There is something luxiurous about getting clothes hand-made specifically for yourself. Choosing the fabric, the style, getting measured up, the first fitting, the final fitting and walking away with your purse only marginally lighter. I felt like the Queen of England (with out the wrinkles and stupid wave!)

There is something fundamentally different between the decision making powers of a group and that of an individual, particurlarily while travelling on a budget. There are generally two types of decisions, the "right" decision (ie. the economical and slightly more effort required decision) and the more "appealing" decision (the more expensive but far more comfortable decision). Unless, other factors are involved such as not enough sleep, not enough caffiene or too much alcohol, an individual generally goes with the responsible "right" decision. (Well, I do anyway). In a group however you have another aspect to add, "Group Justification Phenomena".The justifications you have for the more appealing decision are multiplied by the number of people in the group. Hence with the multiple justifications, the "appealing" decision is magically transformed into the "right" decision and Wallah! you are doing want you really want to do without the feeling of guilt.

Well, the five of us caught a one hour flight to Hanoi on Vietnam Airlines dodging the 22 hours train journey. On the hour, every hour, during the next day we reminded each other that we would still be on the train and silently congratulated ourselves on our clever decision making.

Posted by Jenni on October 25, 2004 03:35 PM
Category: Vietnam

Hey Jen, latest post is really good. Maybe you can start a new game of paper, scissors, rock but substitute it for train, bus or plane!!! Later :)

Posted by: Kel on October 25, 2004 04:54 PM

Vietnam sound like the place to go! I'm looking forward to the dinners next time I see you....... xx

Posted by: Cara on October 26, 2004 11:31 AM
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