Thursday 11 November 2010

Hoi An. More Rain.

It came as rather a pleasant surprise to wake Tuesday morning in Hue and find that it had finally stopped raining. It was still grey and bleak and miserable, but at least it was dry. At 10am, I took a car south to Hoi An. It's a spectacular drive; Bach Ma National Park on one side, the South China Sea on the other, and incredible scenery squeezed in between. Or so I'm told; thanks to an almost impervious mist, I could barely make out the windscreen wipers.

By the time I arrived in Hoi An it was bucketing down again, on a Biblical scale. The cloud completely unbroken, the sun fallen from the sky and an almost fantastical amount of rain dropping from the Heavens. Luckily I'd brought the poncho with me, and we reunited once again as I set out about town. Hoi An is a pleasant little place; an extremely old town centre with a high concentration of tourists, and it's famous for food and tailoring.

The clothes shops and tailors are a bit of a joke. There are hundreds of them, each capable of turning round suits within 48 hours, and pretty much everything else within 24. They stock vast ranges of fabric, the quality of which I am not qualified to judge, but I would be fairly sceptical of those Made in Italy tags. I suspect that in the past you could get a really nice suit made here, but today there are just too many outlets for them to all be any good. I'm not about to try and second guess, though I hardly need a suit made anyway these days. But I do need to eat every now and then.

I instinctively like it here, but the rain is a persistent menace, and it's hard to really enjoy a place in these conditions. I'm realising how lucky I have been so far; those one off moments, like Iguazu, Machu Picchu, Yosemite - they could all have been screwed by the weather but weren't. But that won't stop me moaning about it now.

It's not just the fact that it's raining; it is being inundated by the conviction that is just never going to end. Even when it does occasionally stop for a few moments, it somehow still manages to feel like it is actually raining, and if you ever get confident, or stupid, enough to proclaim that it isn't, and even venture out sans poncho, you get very wet, very quickly.

There's only one way to break the spell, and that's to get as far away from here as I can. The people will thank me for it, I'm sure.

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