Almost as soon as arriving in Vietnam we’re on the move again. This morning we flew North to Da Nang, the largest city in the middle part of the country and a major port. It also has a wonderfully whimsical bridge whose supporting arches have been fashioned into a huge dragon which even breathes fire on weekend evenings. Our actual destination was still further North, and we drove out along the coast – past China Beach of Vietnam War R&R fame – to the town of Hoi An.
Hoi An is very like Brugge in that it passed many years as a significant, and vastly wealthy, trading port. Then its river became silted and the trade moved away. The town became poor and nobody bothered redeveloping it. Now its old buildings are well-preserved tourist attractions.
The contrast between Hoi An and HCMC could not be more stark. We’re out in the country now, there are rice paddies, storks, ducks, water buffalo and fishermen on the river. Tonight we meet our group and get briefed on the ride to come.