Hoi An … At Last

This trip to Hoi An was planned and paid for late in 2019. It was scheduled for June 2020, a time when my kids and their partners could all take a week off work. We were all looking forward to it. Then the pandemic arrived and brought a temporary halt to our plans. We negotiated with Singapore Airlines and the accommodation to extend the date before our bookings expired. At first they gave us until the end of 2020 to use our bookings or lose the money we’d paid. But the pandemic dragged on and late in 2020 the airline and the accommodation agreed to extend our bookings until the end of 2021. That date came and went and the pandemic continued, although it seemed to be well past its peak. Midway through 2022 we found out that the due date to use the booking money was now the last day of December 2022. On January 1, 2023, if we hadn’t completed our trip, the money we’d spent so long ago would vanish.

I asked my kids if they were still interested in taking the trip some time in November or December, and if it would be possible to take some time off work. Thankfully, everyone was still really keen and taking time off work presented no real issues. There was another matter to consider. Layla, our granddaughter, was born in late July 2021. Would it be a good idea to take her on a trip like this? Casey and Nick decided they could make it work. So it was all systems go for Hoi An. We agreed on departure and return dates, notified the resort, and rebooked all flights.

Casey and Nick left a couple of days earlier than the rest of us to help break up the long sequence of flights for Layla. They spent a couple of nights in Singapore and had a chance to visit the Gardens by the Bay. Tess, Adam, Marg and I left Melbourne in the early hours of Wednesday morning on the overnight flight to Singapore. Casey and Nick and Layla met up with us in the food court at Changi Airport. It was good to see them.

The Singapore to DaNang flight was a good one. Layla sat on Casey’s knee and chattered happily throughout the journey while Adam took the chance to finish off some work for a client. From my window seat I got some decent views of Singapore and DaNang from the air.

We transferred from the airport in DaNang down to Hoi An in an air conditioned van. It was amusing trying to spot the motorbike riders with the biggest loads. The transfer only took about 40 minutes. We settled in at the resort for a late lunch and a chance to unpack our bags and unwind.

After dark we walked into the Old Town for a quick look around. It wasn’t easy trying to cross the road with a baby and stroller as the motorbikes just kept on coming. We had to chance it and cross the roads whenever there was a slight break in the traffic. The walk into town was not straightforward. Motorbikes were frequently parked up on the kerb, forcing pedestrians to step out onto the road – and almost directly into the paths of speeding motorbikes – to get around them. We soon abandoned the plan of wheeling Layla all the way in her stroller, because every time a parked motorbike blocked the footpath, you were forced to take the stroller out onto the road (and into the path of the traffic) to get around it. Casey carried Layla in her arms and out of harm’s way, while Nick weaved on and off the footpath with the empty stroller.

We spent a bit of time exploring the Old Town, but we were hungry, so when we came across Morning Glory we headed upstairs for a feed. Layla had been a little trooper on the plane and on the walk from the accommodation, but she was getting tired, so we finished our meal and headed back in the direction of the resort. We managed to avoid some of the traffic issues on this journey because Adam used Google Maps on his phone to guide through the back alleys and laneways of Hoi An. It allowed us the opportunity to pass many urban homes and see the families settling down for the evening inside.

We’re here for a week, so there will be other opportunities to have a good look at the Old Town with its colourful lanterns, its many shops and street vendors, and the river that passes through it.

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