For the second night train, I was a good person and I volunteered to take the bed in the dreaded hard sleeper. On the first night train, I was in a cushy soft sleeper with plenty of storage space for my backpack, four bunks total and a small table for playing cards. The hard sleeper, however, takes its name from the comfort level of the bed. Here is a brief list of things squishier than my bed on the night train: cement, steel, a cactus, adamantium, the way my grandpa talked to people who sold cars, the area between a rock and a hard place. There is also only a couple of feet of head room since there are 6 bunks total so I couldn’t sit up all the way if I wanted to. However, I was extremely tired so I passed out immediately.
We arrived to the town of Hoi An in the afternoon and were overwhelmed by the city. We had been waiting for a city in Vietnam that spoke to something a little older, a little more cultural, and Hoi An was it. The downtown area, which is about 1 square mile, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is protected and preserved beautifully. Everywhere you look the ochre buildings are covered in beautiful flowers of fuchsia and orange. Many of the stores hung birdcages outside, creating the effect that each turn led to somewhere enchanted by their tweeting songs. Each little alleyway leads to a new corner and delightful shops that we took full advantage of.
Our first evening in Hoi An, Tori and I took a Vietnamese cooking class. This was one of the best meals we ate, mainly because we barely had to do anything! We started off by going to the local market to buy fresh produce. The women who sell things at the market certainly don’t understand hygiene, but they do understand what makes a good papaya (not ripe). We then went back our teacher Han’s kitchen where we would chop the vegetables and she would heavily guide us with most of the cooking. Our menu consisted of Spring Rolls, Green Papaya Salad, Fish Cooked in Banana Leaves, Sweet and Sour Soup, and Fried Aubergines. That day, I ate lunch, then went to a cooking class, ate the food we made, and then went out for dinner. It was a good day.
The next day we took part in Hoi An’s most famous custom, custom made clothing. On every block you can find a dozens of tailors who are willing to make custom clothing for you in the same day. Tori and I went in the morning to the Nhu Mai tailor and if you are ever in Hoi An, I recommend you do the same. The tailor was an English tutor as well so she constantly had young kids coming in and out of her store to practice English. Tori and I both had suits made for our future professional business lives and they look very snazzy. We spent most of the day just walking around and I took lots of pictures. I do hope to return to this picturesque haven someday, knowing that it will remain the same into the future.