Hoi An and Cham Island

(Cham Island)

After eight months of living in Vietnam, I finally made it to one of the quintessential tourist destinations: Hoi An. And I must admit, it certainly lived up to its reputation!

(Fishermen in Cham)

Hoi An, aside from its oozing charm, traditional architecture, trademark lanterns and historical significance, is renown for its hand-made clothing! Tailors line the exceptionally well-preserved ancient streets, beckoning passers-by to come into their shops.

(cigar anyone?)

I readily obliged and ended up going on a shopping rampage! By the end of the day, I had ordered six dresses, one suit, one blouse, and two pairs of shoes! Oh, and let’s not forget the jewelry and artwork that also called out to me!

(Fisherman repairing his net)

Remarkably, the articles of clothing were beautifully made within 24-hours. Granted, my shoes weren’t quite ready at the time they had promised, so the owner temporarily closed shop and drove me via scooter to her brother’s home – who happened to be the cobbler. I watched with delight as they put the finishing touches on my shoes.

(Old Town – ancient architecture)

I couldn’t believe that I was in their store at noon, selected the style/design, picked out two different colors of leather, requested a specific size heel and asked for extra padding…only to pick up the finished product at 6pm that very same day! Unbelievable!

(Traveling via boat taxi)

The other aspect of Hoi An that I loved, it’s truly a pedestrian-friendly city! Cars are not permitted in the Old Town; plus bars, hotels, restaurants and shops are all relatively close together, thus affording leisurely strolls up and down the streets without worrying about traffic.

(In the market)

I spent my mornings walking around with my camera, exploring the ports and the local markets. I still marvel over the sheer volume of fish, crabs, frogs, shrimp, and eels that are consistently for sale throughout all of the markets. How can the oceans sustain this kind of over-fishing?

(Fish market)

Afternoons were spent lulling on the beach, talking to locals, dining at various restaurants and shopping! People in Hoi An, by and large, appear to be much friendlier than in the North. Perhaps it’s attributed to the fact that the majority speaks English, not to mention their economy is booming due to tourism.

(Co-workers in Hoi An)

And not surprisingly, half of our office was vacationing in Hoi An over the long holiday weekend! On Saturday night, several of us met up for dinner. It’s always nice to hang out with co-workers in a more casual setting. Great fun!

(Fishing Village)

On Sunday, Tamara and I booked a scuba diving/camping trip on Cham Island. Despite being PADI certified, it’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been diving. With some trepidation, I put that tank on my back, the regulator in my mouth and submerged into the water.


(Post Dive)

The first few moments were anxiety laden – there’s something unnatural about breathing under water. But soon I found my rhythm and felt at peace exploring the seas below.


At one stage in my life, I studied marine biology – more specifically, organisms and algae in intertidal zones; and I was fascinated by dolphin (even studied migratory patterns and behaviors of Bottlenose dolphin in Costa Rica long ago). Yet, what struck me the most during this particular dive was the deplorable state of the reef and the general lack of fish. Despite seeing interesting corals, gorgeous anemones, and colorful fish, the dive in and of itself wasn’t too impressive.

(View from the boat)

(Beautiful girl)

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed every moment of my dive, it just made me wonder about the state of the reefs world over. The oceans were in a dire state when I was contemplating a career path in Marine Biology twenty years ago. Am curious what progress we have truly made to protect our waters. Between over fishing, pollution, heavy sedimentation, natural disasters, man-made disasters and global warming – it certainly feels like an uphill battle.

(Dive Boat)

In fact, I couldn’t help but think about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. My heart just aches when trying to fathom the full impact of this disaster to marine and wildlife habitats, not to mention its impact on the fishing and tourism industries.

(Traveling in style)

I better change my stream of consciousness – otherwise this will get too depressing!

(Favorites from the Fishing Village)

(another one of my favorites from the fishing village)

Anyway, after our dives, we were taken to Cham Island, located approximately 9 nautical miles off the coast of Hoi An….paradise! We spent several hours with our group, lounging on hammocks and chilling out on the beach.

(Chilling out on the beach)

After the group left, one of the fishermen dropped me off a few kilometers away at the fishing village. I was in my element as I walked up and down the streets, taking photos and interacting with locals.


And the walk back to our campsite was stunning. Pristine land…gorgeous beaches…and I didn’t see a single soul! That’s unheard of in Vietnam.

(Fishing Village)

Tamara and I were the only ones who stayed the night, so we had the entire beach to ourselves! We pitched the tent under the stars, ate fresh calamari, lit a bon fire on the beach, and slept to the sounds of the sea. Exactly what I needed…a little one-on-one with nature!

(Bon fire on the beach)

Am now back in Hanoi feeling more revived and even more excited about living in Vietnam. Plus, I’m noticing a shift in my wardrobe from jeans and t-shirts to gorgeous silk dresses and heels! I should’ve gone to Hoi An months ago!

(Buying chickens)

Hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day Weekend!


Sending much love to all,

1 comment to Hoi An and Cham Island

  • Found you blog via google. I got bitten by the blog bug and currently feeling like Anthony Bourdain whenever I go travel. Problem is I write like crap but that does not stop me from trying to make better post each time. Will be heading to Ho Chi Minh with another friend from the US and would love to meet up with you and your friends. I think it would be really a cool subject to post about expat living in Vietnam rather than me making post about the Ben Tran market that most likely been over posed. Hope to hear a favorable respond from you soon.



    P/S: You do take very nice pictures for a Doctor

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