I chase a feeling on most of my journeys. It’s a feeling I have had on very rare occasions, and in very specific locations. It’s a feeling I can only describe as bliss – completeness, fully in the now, open and humble, joy-filled and in harmony with everything around me. I can’t predict when or where this feeling will hit, or for how long I will experience it.
I have felt this feeling twice before – staring up at the stars in Assisi, Italy and every time I heard the call to prayer on my Nile cruise in Egypt. I am thankful to say I felt it again riding my bike alone and ahead of my group along a small and bumpy path surrounded by rice and vegetable fields in Hoi An, Vietnam.
I loved every moment I spent in Hoi An. It is a beautiful blend of sandy beaches and resorts, old ancient town, wonderful shopping, beautiful people, incredible restaurants and the opportunity to get out into the surrounding countryside and see “real life.”
The old ancient town first captured my heart. It’s a 2 km area of windy old roads dedicated to walking and cycling only (with the occasional motorbike of course!). The streets are lined with ancient monuments and buildings and hip, modern shops and restaurants. Hoi An is known for its silk and tailoring, and many people take time out to be measured in one of the many shops to have one-of-a-kind pieces of clothing made for a very cheap price. I didn’t opt to do this, but many women on my tour did, and raved about the service, attention to detail and speed (it takes about a day to have many pieces made, as long as you come back for quick fittings).
Hoi An Eco Tours
The experience of a lifetime for me came as I spent a day with Hoi An Eco Tours, on the Farming and Fishing Tour.
The Eco Tour really takes you out of your comfort zone, and right into life in Hoi An – cycling through gorgeous countryside (and seeing the occasional water buffalo on the way!), meeting local villagers and fishermen, learning how to throw a net to catch fish on shore and in a row boat, and laughter and fun with ladies rowing us around in basket boats. The lunch provided for us on the main boat was also exceptional. The day was filled with laughter, joy and learning – everything I love about travel! It’s a day I will never forget.
It is rare for me to visit the same place twice. There is a big world to see out there, and I want to see as much of it as I can. So, when I get the urge to return, it’s kind of a big deal for me.
Hoi An is in my heart, and I will return some day (soon I hope!)