So it was about an hour’s bus journey from Denang to Hoi An, passing some gorgeous mountains and coastal roads along the way. It was just a pity that being on a bus we didn’t get to stop anywhere (makes me wanna get my own wheels here.
Anyway: Hoi An - a very old trading port with many preserved period houses and Chinese community temples. It’s got a lot of character but is also famous for the 500 tailors that make very cheap suits and well, anything. I didn’t partake myself because I have enough to carry at the moment and I have no address to forward on to in Aus. I’ve heard mixed reports about the quality of the clothes anyway, suits falling apart having been dry cleaned.
The bus dropped us off at some guesthouse which I decided not to take and so I hit the road to get into the centre. I bumped into Dutch girls along the way and we got a taxi to find somewhere. We finally decided upon an old characterful (that word again) house that only had three rooms but we managed to grab them. We actually left the next day
because the showers didn’t work properly and the air con wasn’t working in my room - but mainly because we thought we could find a much cheaper place elsewhere.
I did a bit of a tour of the town taking in the old streets and all that lot, trying my best to avoid the pesky “hey yo you!” motorbike guys on every corner. I then stopped by a place for a coffee which happened to have happy hour and free pool so I asked some guy sat on his own if he wanted a game. His guy turned out to be from Glasgow (the first Scot I’ve met here in SE Asia) and he’d been travelling for about 2 years, having done his year’s stint in Australia working. He seemed like a nice bloke and I even invited him along after a few games of pool to dinner with me and the Dutch girls.
Always a first
We sat in an outdoor courtyard by the river eating at these wonderful food stalls that were so cheap and delicious. Plus they served “bia hoi”, the cheapest beer on the planet. The girls went back to their rooms but who was
sitting at the same stalls but Jonny and Chris - the guys I’d met at Hue. We all went for a few more bia hoi and then onto some cheesy “Salsa” bar which was practically dead despite the flyers and trying to get as many Westerners there.
Unfortunately the drinks made the Scottish bloke then turn into a twat with his Scottish independence/ socialism soliloquies. I turned off when he began sentences with “you English” - it seems the Scots think that the English are obsessed with them as they are with us. It was bloody hilarious when this agitator asked Jonny if he voted and who for. Now Jonny is a very laid back Russell Brand look alike who lives his life not really thinking about the inner workings of Westminster. The conversation went downhill rapidly because this guy couldn’t figure out why people aren’t like him! Anyway, I’d had enough by that time and just plotted my exit so at the next bar whilst said Scottish guy was bartering with the bar staff I sneaked away (sorry Jonny and Chris!).
Next day, I did a proper walking tour of the town; saw some Chinese community temples
and houses (you have to pay to get into these places). I then went across the river to “Randy’s Book exchange,” picking up a Lonely Planet to Cambodia (fake of course). The big American dude who ran the place from his house said it was gonna storm so I retreated to a nearby bar that had free wi-fi. I sat with a beer catching up on email and banking as it chucked it down outside for about an hour.
That evening I dined out again in the awesome food stalls courtyard. I then popped into a bar/restaurant for a coffee whilst I read up on the rest of Vietnam. However, as happens when you’re travelling out here you get accosted by strangers, this time by an Aussie guy from Perth way who was sat there having a glass of wine. Anyway, he was on holiday in Vietnam for a few weeks and worked in Australia in a winery. He offered his contact details in case I was in the area and as he had a four bedroom house with just him in it. So that’s my contact sorted in Western Australia plus free wine (I hope!).
Loose ends and
The travel agent sent me an email saying the Vietnam visa had come through much earlier and that she could return my visa and passport to my hotel in Hoi An. This I agreed to, thinking it would get there the next day. After I’d received it I was gonna hot foot it to Hue in order to pick up my mail post restante
which had finally turned up. So, the next day I went on a morning tour of My Son - modest ruins of a former capital of the Cham civilization. Unfortunately, the VC during the war were pretty active in this area so the fighting was intense and a fair few of the structures were bombed. Even President Nixon gave an order to prevent any destruction of the temples whilst fighting (pretty bloody hard to do if you ask me). Anyway, shockingly according to locals a helicopter borne sapper team blew up one of the magnificent towers before pissing off out of the area. Anyway, it was a very hot and humid day so a bit difficult to really take in everything that was there, but it was pretty cool and I feel like I’m
learning a lot about the cultures and civilisations that existed here (and to which I knew bugger all about).
Getting to Hue
I went to My Son in the morning, leaving at about 8 am and getting back by 1pm. Only problem is, the passport hadn’t arrived so I missed the Open Tour bus at 2pm. I had to frustratingly wait around until it turned up but which it did about 45 minutes later on a motorbike, by which time I had to figure out to get to Hue.
I knew there was a local bus service but no one seemed to know bus times. Infuriatingly, the travel agencies promoting themselves as “tourist” booking places feigned ignorance of local buses. Even saying I had to wait until the following day to get to Hue! Bollocks to that, I had a go at one woman who even claimed that there wasn’t even a bus station in Hoi An let alone buses! Talk about deceitful - they’re only interested in your money around here - I was so angry.
Anyway, despite also carrying out the same obfuscation tactics suggested I get a taxi to Denang and then a local bus
to Hue. This I did reluctantly, and a geezer on a motorbike picked me up to take me to denang. I received the usual questions of where you’re from you tend to go with England and to keep them from a perplexed silence I say Chelsea - because they’re all mad English Premier League fans here and they can’t relate to anything else foreign. Of course I say this and the motorbike driver replies with a broad cockney accent and tells me he used to live in Clapham for four years. Doh!
Anyway, I finally got to Denang and then a local bus to Hue, sat at the back looking at familiar scenery with the locals who were squashed in against me.
When I arrived in Hue, it quickly turned dark and then the torrential hit. I sheltered below a corrugated roof where a motorbike taxi driver was trying to rip me off with a journey to the Post Office. I walked away once it died down a bit and got another motorbike for a reasonable rate, backpack on and precariously perched on the back of the bike.
Got to the Post Office, picked up my packet that
Mark sent to me from London and retreated to the guesthouse I’d previously stayed at.
The receptionist recognized me straight away and got me a room, I chilled out for the evening, getting some post cards and eating at a café. Coincidentally, I walked past the idiot Glaswegian, who I don’t think recognized me because I had my glasses on and a rain jacket. I quickened my walk to rid myself of that
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