DAY 10 – HOI AN
Our day started early with a walk of the old town of Hoi Ann, a pretty little riverside town thriving on its tailoring and pottery industries. We started our tour at the Japanese Covered bridge and then wandered slowly through the main streets visiting the temple, the covered markets, the coffee shops and then on to the tailors. We took part in a lantern making workshop under expert guidance and this was followed by a very professional musical performance. One of the highlights of the morning was a visit to the photographic gallery of Rehahn, a gentleman who has documented most of the ethic minorities in Vietnam and not only photographed them but collected many of their costumes. These costumes are on display along with the stories of the people, their lives and his adventures to find them. In the afternoon we took a boat up the river to a local family run pottery and met a 94 year old lady who gave us a pottery demonstration with her granddaughter operating the wheel with her foot. The day ended with us returning to the old town for a wonderful meal and stroll round the night markets.
DAY 11 – HOI AN
Today we set off to visit Hoi An Silk Village to hear about the traditional ways to produce silk. It was fascinating to hear about the life cycle of the silk worm and also for us to see how the cocoons are boiled and then the microscopic threads are then pulled from them and then spun into gossamer fine yarn. Some of us were able to try the spinning process and then the weaving process. Back at the hotel in the afternoon we had another workshop – this time making and lotus flower and butterfly wallhanging.
DAY 12 – HOI AN/SAIGON
A short flight down from Hoi An and then a bus ride from the airport via the Cu Chi tunnels brought us to the Mekong Lodge in the Delta. This is a very fertile area of Vietnam and all the exotic fruits that we were invited to eat are grown within a short radius of the hotel. We started early by sailing off to visit the floating markets – boats at anchor in the river that are indeed shops. We stopped off at a family run business making sweets. The work is very hot and labour intensive but tasty! Later our guide took us for a walk in the nearby area to show us the fruit trees that the local people grow easily here. It was so peaceful wandering around the narrow paths until the peace was shattered by the local karaoke club getting into full swing. We added another spontaneous sewing workshop into the day and most of the projects are well on their way.
DAY 13 – MEKONG DELTA
This wonderful ecolodge was the last stop on our journey from the very north of Vietnam to the very south. I had a leisurely walk around the grounds to sample the colours, the lushness and the beauty of the area before we stepped on our sampan to take us upriver back to our bus.
Our attentive hotel staff were on hand to help us down the gangway and onto our motor launch that would take us back to the bus. A friendly wave from them and we were off upriver passing the sampans that were taking their goods to the floating market. Dinh, our guide, had arranged a wonderful farewell meal for us in Saigon before seeing us through check-in and onto our flight back to the UK.
We’d like to say a massive thank you to Pat for her gorgeous photos and updates from Vietnam & hope you can join us when we return in 2018!