Daily life in Hoi An

Kyle here. We’ve spent over two months in Hoi An now. After covering 13 countries in the first four months of our trip, we’ve really enjoyed the switch to slow travel and the relaxed pace of life here. And we’ve met some great friends here, both locals and other traveling families. Here are some photos and details to give you a sense of what our daily life is like here.

Our Neighborhood:

We found a place in Cam Thanh on the edge of town so that we could have more space and some distance from the heavier traffic and flow of tourists in the Ancient Town. But, we’re still within a short bike ride of the market, restaurants and anything else we need.

We’ve been the lucky first tenants here. Our landlord finished building right before we moved in and he’s been diligent about maintaining the yard, plants and pool.
On a typical morning, we see the sun rise through some haze that burns off with the morning.
Our view from our upstairs bedroom; many of these local families work as rice farmers in the fields just out of view behind these houses.
Since the rain stopped, we’ve been enjoying the pool daily. Max enjoys it a bit more often.
Despite a language barrier that limits conversation, our landlords have been very kind to us and have invited us over for dinner on multiple occasions.
Mr. Hoa, on the right, lives down the street with his family. He is a nephew to our landlord and has served as our translator and guide for anything house or neighborhood related.
Fellow long term traveling kids + Boom Pizza.
Biking is our main form of transportation here. We can also use Grab (Uber for SE Asia), but most places we need to go are within 20 minutes by bike. OK, well there was a spontaneous 3 hour long “5 Bridges Tour” loop that I put the family through in December. Henry still talks about that.
Most locals here rely on motorbikes. Families of 3 or 4 can share a single motorbike. Traffic is much calmer than Hanoi and Saigon, but can still be tricky to navigate on our bikes.
And they like to test the carrying capacity limits.
We are next to this estuary that flows into the larger Thu Bồn River.

An Bang Beach:

An Bang beach is about a 15-20 minute bike ride for us and a great place to spend afternoons and to meet up with friends. The beach side restaurants offer recliners with umbrellas and tables for food + drinks.

At the beach, the kids stay busy swimming and digging. Friends here are also travelling long term with their families.
Henry likes to bury himself in the sand.
Max failed to plan around the tides this time.
An My Rest Stop: a little restaurant that we like to stop after the beach.
You can fish next to the restaurant and they’ll fry up your catch to eat.
Henry caught something, but not a keeper.

Ba Le Market:

The nearest large scale supermarkets are in Da Nang (40 min drive), so we spend a lot of time at the market, the bakery and the mini-marts near the market. It took a couple weeks to figure out where to get everything, how much to pay, when things were open/closed. But, we quickly established a routine around shopping. Eating out or getting delivery is very affordable here also, with lots of great options.

Fish at the Ba Le Market
Buying meat here is a different experience.
The variety of vegetables and fruits available at the market is dizzying.
The fish are fresh here. Sometimes we’ll see a fish jump out of a bucket onto the floor.
She’s cutting up our tuna for steaks. They were very tasty.
Back from a typical shopping errand

Ancient Town:

The main draw for tourists in Hoi An is “Ancient Town”. Aside from the 16th century historical landmarks, there are countless restaurants, boats offering rides, lanterns and lights of all kinds, vendors selling clothes and souvenirs, and more.

Ancient Town at night is well lit and usually busy with tourists.
The hanging lanterns are strung across many of the streets in Ancient Town.
The Japanese Covered Bridge, 16th Century.

The Rice Paddies:

The growth of tourism into a significant source of income here is relatively recent, coming in the past 20 years. Traditionally, rice farming has been an important source of food and income for locals and rice paddies still surround Hoi An on all sides. One of the highlights of being here is cycling on paths through the fields every day.

The rice field of our landlord, just a few minutes walk from our house.
I like to walk down to the rice paddies in the morning and late afternoon.
During the day local farmers are coming and going with various tools and doing various jobs: plowing, weeding, seeding, spraying, etc.
The rice plants grow fast. This is just a couple weeks after planting.
More rice paddies down the road.
A simple scarecrow.
Water is everywhere in Hoi An; the sea, the rivers and all the flooded rice paddies.

The Cemeteries:

There are small cemeteries all over Hoi An, squeezed onto islands in and around the rice paddies. We follow the bike paths through these spots and often see people here honoring their family members.

Incense offerings
Hoi An is in central Vietnam. It was part of South Vietnam and allied with the US during the American War here. Although it’s been less than 50 years, there are not many signs of the war left here. This soldier died during the Tet Offensive of 1968.
Along with incense, soda and energy drinks are a common offerings at grave sites.
This marks the grave of a concubine of one of the 17th century emperors.

The Animals:

We see a lot of water buffalo here, usually bathing or getting muddy in the rice paddies.
A baby, with bug protection on its back.
We have a LOT of chickens living in our back yard and all around the neighborhood. It took some time to get used to the rooster calls. They come early and often in the 4am-7am hours.
Baby chicks
We also have cows and pigs living next door.
There are a lot of dogs living in our neighborhood. They’re surprisingly well behaved.

There is always laundry

Since we’ve been in Vietnam, we’ve had a break from the intensive planning that is a big part of this trip, but with just a few weeks left before we take off again, Kyle and I have both started to spend our time in front of a screen, calculating the cost-benefit of taking that cheaper flight which takes 33 hours, or the more expensive one, which takes 17, but means we’re eating nothing but bread and Laughing Cow cheese for the entire time we’re in Paris. And we’re getting emails reminding us that our tax forms are ready, which fills me with dread, exactly the same response I have every year.

World travel is intense and exciting, to a point. But long-term travel serves also to remind you that the simple responsibilities of daily life are pretty much unavoidable. We might spend the morning exploring a new city, beach-hopping to find our favorite waves, or climbing to the top of a mountain in the Dolomites, but at the end of the day, someone has to wash the clothes. And shop for groceries.


And cook, and watch our finances (carefully!), and make sure the boys do their math (reluctantly!).


No matter where we are in the world, a stubborn baby tooth might need to be extracted (at the shockingly low price of $4) and teeth will need to be cleaned ($8).


Tween feet will just keep growing, and shoes will need to be procured. A bike chain will break and need to be replaced or else one of us has a large kid on our pannier rack.


And these days that is all happening in a language I don’t understand, and often involves haggling over the price when I don’t even know what the right price should be.

I can feel the side-eye now, and I promise, I am not complaining. Just reflecting, and avoiding looking at those tax forms…


Cousins!!! (part 2)

It has been a long time since Kai and Eli were with us, but I still haven’t finished writing about their visit! Well, I will have finished by the time you read this. So, I left off when we got home from the Tra Que Water Wheel. The next day we went kayaking on the Thu Bon river and saw a lot of cool stuff. It was really fun kayaking together with everyone.

A couple of days later we went to Vinpearl Land which is a huge amusement park near where we live.



It was AMAZING! We had been there once before but only did the inside stuff because it was raining. This time we did almost everything! It was so fun! We went to the water park first but could only do half the slides.


It was still fun because there was a lazy river and a wave pool and a giant water playground! We also went to the indoor games which had an arcade where all the games were free and there were also some trampolines and a little kid area. We played inside for a while jumping on the trampolines and playing the arcade games. After the indoor games we walked around for a while and then went to the best part, the rides! There were two roller coasters not counting the creepy caterpillar baby one. There were bumper cars and flying chairs.



And last but not least the Swiss Tower!!! It was a super tall tower that had a ring of seats that took you up to the top and left you there for a whole minute and then just dropped you! I just looked it up it is 85 meters high! And that is about 279 feet! It was crazy! The first things we did there were the roller coasters which were super fun! Then we did the bumper cars which were really crazy and every one was ramming into each other so hard I would be surprised if I didn’t get whiplash! Next we did the flying chairs, they were just relaxing though compared to the other rides.

After we did all the other rides we finally got on the Swiss Tower! It was really scary going up. We were slowly rising up the tower regretting our choice more and more as we got higher. When we reached the top we were so high up that we could see everything for miles around it was so amazing. For a minute we talked and looked around waiting for the “click” and then the fall. Finally it clicked and down we went faster and faster and faster! I tried to scream but the sound was ripped away by the air rushing past me. I could barely see anything except for a blur of lights. And then we slowed rapidly like we had sunk into a pit of thick mud. I was kind of dizzy and full of adrenaline! We all got of and walked away yelling about what had just happened. By then it was pretty dark and we went home soon after and went to bed. We were tired! The next day they left to go back to the U.S.


Cousins!!! (part one)

In the last post I told you about taking a cruise in Ha Long Bay. After that we went to the Philippines but my mom already wrote about that and there is a lot to catch up on so I will start when we got back. The day we got back we went to Abby’s birthday party at the beach and swam and had a lot of fun! That day was kind of windy and foggy and cold but we still had a great time. Annabelle and Amelia came to Hoi An a few days before we got back so they had met everyone and came to the party also. It was so much fun playing in the water and the sand with everyone. The next day everyone came to our house and we made another stop motion movie and got pizza and watched TV.

The next day was the day that our cousins Kai and Eli were coming. I couldn’t wait because they were coming really late that night and we had to wait all day. When they did get here Kai was sick but other than that it was really exciting to see them again! They were really tired though so we all went to sleep, it was kind of hard to fit everyone in the house but everyone shared the beds and Henry and I slept on the couch and the floor. The next day we didn’t do anything except play video games and swim, and in the afternoon we went to the Hub & Coffee and had some drinks. We were all kind of tired. On Wednesday we went to Taboo Bamboo which is a bamboo workshop where you can make whatever you want out of bamboo. It was super fun and we all made some pretty cool stuff. And we got to keep what we made and it is going to be kind of hard to bring it around everywhere we go.

The next day we went to the Tra Que Water Wheel to do a cooking/planting/buffalo riding class that was really fun. First we all biked out to the market to get ingredients and we saw a bunch of cool stuff. After we got back from the market we tried watering some plants with two big watering cans that had a stick between them that you put on your shoulders and swung back and forth to water stuff.

After that we did a basket boat ride and made cool stuff out of the palm fronds like crowns and ring and a really cool grasshopper that the guide made.

Then we went to ride a water buffalo named Lady Gaga, it was so funny!

When we finished the outdoor activities we went back to the restaurant area and got short massages before we did the cooking. We made rice paper for spring rolls that looked really cool. We made some really good spring rolls called Three Best Friends (Tam Hữu) and rice pancakes (Bánh xèo) that were so delicious! Everyone loved it! it was also really fun flipping the rice pancakes even though mine fell into the rice pancake batter stuff, which was actually really funny. When we had eaten all the food that we made we went home and relaxed.

OK I think I’m going to leave it here for now but I’ll do a part two next week! Bye!