LC Biker Gang in the Streets of Hoi An

Friday morning we hopped on bicycles and had a first-hand experience of driving on the chaotic streets of Hoi An. Despite the numerous intersections that we crossed, we only had two close calls and one lost student. After a twenty minute ride, all the stragglers finally made it to our destination. We rode to the "Action for the City" site which houses an organic farm on the outskirts of Hoi An. When we arrived, we were split into two groups that either cleared the land of weeds in preparation for a new crop or shoveled compost filled with maggots. We worked for two hours and then learned about the role this organization plays in the Da Nang and Hoi An communities. "Action for the City" focuses on building playgrounds and teaching local farmers different organic farming techniques in hopes to promote a healthy lifestyle among the Vietnamese citizens. Even though many Vietnamese are migrating to the cities, farming still continues to be an important profession in the smaller cities like Hoi An. Despite the burning sun and heavy lifting, we all enjoyed giving back to this community by contributing to a lifestyle that we all enjoy in Decorah.

After a morning of rewarding manual labor, enjoyed a relaxing afternoon of free time. Many of us rode to the warm beaches of Hoi An to soak up some sunshine while enjoying music and the company of one another. After hearing the waves crash onto to the sand, we ventured into the ocean for a cool afternoon swim. The water was a perfect temperature and we had a blast body surfing in the South China Sea. Although the water was very refreshing, we had to keep our heads on a swivel because the next wave could take our legs out from underneath us. Enjoying some rest and relaxation was a nice break from the immense amount of tourism that dominates the city of Hoi An. A couple hours on the beach had us wearing shades spanning from red to golden brown. As we gazed over the rice farms, the glow of the sunset was hitting the water and made the ride back to the hotel quite peaceful.

The rest of us took the afternoon off to explore and shop around the Old town. We quickly learned that the key to a successful shopping trip was to master the skill of bartering. Despite being small in stature, many of the shop owner women were slightly intimidating. Nevertheless, the more practice we acquired, the better we became at driving a hard bargain. On our way to bartering masters we learned three lessons that helped us score some great deals. One, always start by countering the offer with a price that is at least fifty percent the asking price. The initial asking price is always way too high. On one occasion, we bartered the asking price to almost six times less than the original asking price. It makes you question the true value of these products. Two, do not be afraid to walk away. There were many times where we would begin to walk away and these women would immediately lower their asking price or accept the offer that you had put on the table. Otherwise, there was sure to be another place around the corner that had the same item, so there was always a second chance. Third, speaking Vietnamese, complimenting, and flirting were other great techniques to help get lower prices. Shop keepers would be surprised and appreciative of our use of Vietnamese phrases (and it usually helped when asking for discounts!). If all else failed, compliments usually got us the prices we were looking to pay and maybe even a new girlfriend...

Not only did Coltan get a great deal but he also got a cute new girlfriend!
We spent the morning pulling weeds and shoveling compost at a local organic farm in Hoi An
The lucky few who got to shovel compost all morning