Hoi An

Arriving at Da Nang airport in the daylight allowed me to see the huge commercial developments taking place on the coast…including a complete Sheraton Resort. It would seem that foreign countries are investing in Vietnam. I wonder how many of them will contribute to upgrading the transport infrastructure as the traffic on roads increases. Thankfully, there appeared to be less vehicles on the road than in Ho Chi Minh City…but still the same cavalier attitude to driving. There were fewer Cyclos (bicycle rickshaws) but plenty of scooters and motorbikes.

img_6357_edited My accommodation in Hoi An was in a small hotel on a main street, just outside the old city. This turned out to have been a wise move considering the events at the end of my stay. From any perspective, the town is fascinating…it is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. ‘Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site.’ UNESCO  Its markets are piled high with a wide range of produce; its traders engage customers with a smile and an unbeatable offer. It is also famous for its clothes making – you can find tailors’ shops on practically every street.

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Amongst the many traditional folk arts that are celebrated in the town, a water puppet theatre has recently been added. Previously people had to go to Hanoi or Saigon to see performances, but the one in Hoi An is within the large Sports and Culture Stadium with raked seating allowing everyone a good view. Another highlight of my stay was a trip to the Marble Mountains…that unexpectedly called for caving and climbing skills. Just as well this was before my accident…otherwise I would never have scaled the tricky passage up the Gateway to Heaven. The view from the top was worth the effort.

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Bad weather foiled my attempts to sail to the beautiful Cham Islands…instead I decided to explore Cam Kim island which until recently could only be accessed by ferry. It now has a footbridge…used of course mainly by two-wheeled vehicles, many with large, wide loads. Wearing inappropriate footwear for the weather conditions and attempting to avoid a wide loaded scooter, I slipped and fell down the steep concrete slope. Three local youths out fishing came towards me to help…but I waved them off, wanting to assess the situation. Nothing seemed to be broken…I poured clean water over the bleeding cuts…then hobbled back to the hotel to administer first aid. My self diagnosis – sprained ankle, bruised knee and cuts…including a nasty gash on my shin.  I was immensely grateful for the reassurance from medical friends and family members that I was doing the right thing by resting as much as possible, applying compression, and elevating the sprained area whenever I could.

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My travel insurance would have covered any medical costs…but who wants to spend a holiday being examined by doctors and admitted into hospital? Not me…if it could be avoided. I am sure that my injuries would have healed sooner if I had stayed indoors, with an ice-pack, and my foot raised on a stool. Needless to say…that wasn’t to be the case.

About Maurice Greenham

Musician, writer, student, art lover, global traveller. Gay man living with HIV for over 34 years...and enjoying life in my 70s. Speak Spanish, French and German as well as English. Although German was the language I studied most recently, it is the one with which I have most difficulty. Competent pianist and becoming more competent as an organist. Normally sing tenor in a choir, but can also manage bass parts. Had a successful career in professional theatre which I loved... until it ended with enforced retirement because of an AIDS diagnosis in 1994 when I was given 6 months to live. Before that worked in education as a teacher/lecturer in music and drama.
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