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Published: August 4th 2017
This was our first attempt at hitchhiking in Vietnam and we'd not been stood for 5 minutes on the road before another couple told us they had tried and it was a hopeless venture. It took them 4 hours last time to get one lift. 10 minutes later we got a lift with a helpful trucker and took great pleasure in waving to them out of the window as we zoomed by! This guy took us two thirds of the way and once again no sooner had we got out we hailed another lad who took us pretty much the rest of the way.
We'd arranged to meet up with a Vietnamese friend we'd met in Laos (Tano) and stayed at his families air bnb - it was plush! Da nang itself was very modern and was a bit of a concrete jungle. Had we not stayed with Tano and gained his knowledge we may not have enjoyed it as much as we did. Once we settled in and met his mum and sister we popped out for a late lunch and in the evening we borrowed a motorbike to see the much anticipated fire breathing dragon bridge show. We waited for 2 hours in the threatening rain, which wasn't a problem whatsoever with our brand spanking new, all singing, all dancing Asian rain macs (everyone was jealous and under umbrellas - suckers). The show itself started at 9pm and consisted of 9 fireballs coming from the dragons mouth followed by 9 fire hose sized sprays of water. Lots of whooping from the crowd and everyone seemed to enjoy it.... we were slightly downhearted as we thought there would be fireworks and even considered whether there would be music involved - we temporarily forgot we were in Asia.
The next morning Tanos mum made a gorgeous fried rice breakfast. We were warned a storm was coming the previous night (there's a theme here) so we were back on the bike earlyish to set off to Marble Mountain. We eventually found the entrance and a very kind lady with an alterior motive let us park outside her gift shop. We climbed up the many stairs to explore the caves, pagodas, viewpoints and statues. It was very beautiful with panoramic views of the city and coastline. We watched the monks going about their rituals and we also bumped into Alex and Aluna again which was a bonus even though we were looking our best raining with sweat during the conversation. We headed back down knowing full well we were about to be bombarded by aforementioned gift shop lady. Sure enough she spent a good 20 minutes taking us round every inch of her shop putting necklaces and bracelets on us trying to convince us we needed a marble statue as a souvenir. We got out of there with our wallets still intact.
After checking in at the house we headed off to get some grub from the supermarket and were very pleased with ourselves as we got bargain meals for 50p each. Tummies rumbling we tucked into all of 4 mouthfuls before decided that the fishy oyster sauce was just too much to handle. So chucked them in the bin and proceeded to treat ourselves at the bakery.
We got back on the bike and headed up to another mountain region/viewpoint/island/peninsula which was pretty epic. The clouds were hugging the peaks where we stood and we could feel the big change in air temperature. Char got goosebumps so we headed back down to the locals beach and tried the highly recommended Nuoc Mia (sugarcane drink) which was pretty tasty!
That evening we sat with Tano who attempted to teach us Chinese Chess. He was very patient and we think we can now proudly say that we know what the pieces do. Even though it was 2 verses one and we took 5 minutes over every move (discussing at length with Tano) he absolutely destroyed us.
The following day we had planned to leave for Hue but the heavens had opened (see what we mean about the theme) and the storms eye was bordering Hue so thought it best to take shelter and stay at Tano's house. There was a power cut so Char tried to teach Jack a tune on the ivories. We were just starting to think we could potentially open at the Royal Albert Hall when Tano sat down and showed us how playing the piano should actually sound. We were pleasantly interrupted by mum and sister who laid on an absolute feast! There were fried shrimps, avocado salad, pork soup, omelette, fried rice with French bread. We gladly tucked in and even more surprised at the compliments we received at our chopstick skills (just call us chopstick warriors). Later that afternoon Tano took us to his local coffee chop with no travellers in site. It was a really authentic Vietnamese coffee shop with war memorabilia with 60s music playing on a record player. We also took the Chinese chess board where we were once again destroyed. To make us feel a little better we changed to a card game we knew and proceeded to destroy him.
We bought train tickets to Hue that evening and the following morning said our goodbyes with another treat from mum for breakfast. They were called Banh Beo - small bowls of steamed rice cakes, peanut sauce, dried shrimp topped off with a Chilli oil, they were great - Jack had 5. Hopefully we'll be able to treat Tano to a Sunday Roast when he visits England at some point in the future!
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