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Published: February 26th 2016
By the way, if you are viewing on a phone you may not realise all the photos are way at the bottom of the page.
So, time to leave Ho Chi Mihn City. Up early again (this isn’t easy) in order to risk everything on the public bus to HCMC’s international airport. This was the same bus as we got from the airport, so we weren’t really stepping into the unknown here, which is always a relief. I can’t remember if I mentioned it before but its bus 152 which frequently goes between District 1 and the airport.
We arrived at the airport without issue and checked into our flight to Da Nang. We were on our way to Hoi An, but Hoi An doesn’t have an airport, so you fly into the nearby Da Nang airport and then you’re at the mercy of the airport taxi into Hoi an. Well, not quite, there is an alternative and it’s to get the local bus in to the town of Da Nang and then another bus into Hoi An. I’d read that this could be a pain in the arse and
was quite time consuming, so we decided to put up the 400,000 dong (about £12) for the private taxi.
As we were pulling away in the taxi a guy on the same plane as us, also destined for Hoi An, attempted to flag us down. We asked the taxi driver to stop but he wasn’t going to, in fact he ignored our pleas. I had to get out of the car while it was moving in order for him to stop, all because it’s potentially taking away a massively over-inflated fare for the next cab. He even reluctantly opened the boot of the car so the chap could put his bags in. Just another day in the life of the well oiled tourist shafting machine. If you let it, which I did on this occasion, it can really piss you off. In fact I wrote a whole slab of a paragraph just there about this incident but had to delete it, it was too distracting from the otherwise good time I am having!
Moving on a little... Thirty minutes later the taxi dropped us off in Hoi An around the back of our hotel, right at the big
locked security fence with no access. Thanks mate! He then told us we would have to walk around to the front. Thanks mate! We walked around the narrow lane to the front all the time with the taxi behind us giving us directions, guiding us to the front of the hotel. What the fuck. We could have just got back in the taxi and driven around which would have taken all of thirty seconds! Thanks-fucking-mate! We at this point we had already split the fare and said toodle-oo to our taxi friend.
Right... Awful, premium cost moron taxi ride aside and into the hotel we go.
Greenfield Villas was the name of the place and it set a good first impression. Immediately were sat down with juice and cookies and given the low-down by the receptionist. First and fore-most, that alley/narrow street we were just dropped down with the military grade perimeter fencing, that’s the alley you get mugged in should you so desire. Under no circumstances were we to walk down the alley at night. Yes sir. Second? Pick pockets. Wow, she was really selling the place. She then noted a few points of interest on a
local map, not that I had any plans on leaving the fortress now.
So up to the room we went, air con on full blast and chilled for a few minutes. First thing I do whenever I get to my destination is rehydrate myself. I try not drink anything before travelling between destinations as toilets can be few and far between. If it’s late in the afternoon I’m normally properly parched so end up chugging all the free complimentary water. While writing this I’ve realised I don’t know how Tina hydrates herself. She never moans about needing the loo, but then I never see her drink anything except the occasional Pepsi Light... strange.
Time to hit the streets, but I needed to get my dong out first. ATM’s are plentiful in Hoi An so dong was readily available. You could only take 2,000,000 dongs out in one sitting though (about £64). With my trouser now bulging at the seam with dong we went to check out the surrounding area.
We took a wander through the local night market before deciding it was food time. Further to my above mentioned dehydration I was also very starving from not
eating so we found a place by the water to grab a bite to eat. We ordered the fish set menu for two, a five fish course, two free beer affair. It was delicious and only cost about £11. I had been ordering beers during my meal forgetting about the free ones. The waiter forgot too, eventually bringing my free two at the end of the meal. Already a bit pissed I then had to chug my two free beers (two 600 mls by the way) so we could leave, leaving me properly smashed.
We then walked around the hot zone of Hoi An. It was very busy and there was a fair on the go just like the Irn Bru carnival only less vomit-smelling and everyone was smiling and winning prizes. It was lovely to see everyone having such a good time at one of these events.
As the night drew in we decided to head back to the hotel. Since I’ve been relying on my map app I’ve not really been keeping any reference points as to where we are going/been in relation to the hotel, or maintaining a general sense of direction, so when your
phone battery dies it turns out your pretty fucked. We had no address and at this point couldn’t really remember the name of the hotel. We wandered in the direction we believed to be correct but the streets just started to look the same, get smaller, darker and emptier. This had to be the wrong way. But wait, what was that in the distance to the left? Why it was the wrong end of mugging ally. Finally we knew where we were.
A decision had to be made. There was no way we were going back and around, we had been walking on this road for about twenty minutes now. Tina is allergic to walking and I was coming down from my three litres of local beer. We had little choice as far as I could see at the time. As I was stood staring into the pitch black void that consumes your valuables I couldn’t help but think that this is how the previous victims of the alley spent their last pre-mug minutes, pissed/exhausted considering their odds. Ah, sod it. Into the dark we went.
As we ventured in I became very aware that if anything were
to happen we couldn’t just run away because, well, Tina can’t run. She can barely walk at a speed any normal person would consider to be walking pace. I then realised half my time walking around foreign countries had been spent stationary waiting for Tina to catch up. There’s no way I’m waiting here, a sitting duck for a potential attacker. Why didn’t see I this before. We’re doomed. I nearly just emptied by cash onto the road for what good it was.
As I power on I turn to my left to the sound of shuffling feet and quite surprisingly see Tina keeping pace, her arms swinging like fuck, chin up, her legs flapping around in all kinds of directions. It was like watching some kind of nutcracker version of March of the Penguins. It was almost a jog, it was amazing. Maybe this is why she doesn’t run. Maybe it’s too embarrassing for her. Maybe we’ll make it.
We made it, went in and went to bed.
Up the next day for further Hoi An action. Breakfast for me consisted of two dozen spring rolls. They’re so tasty here in Vietnam, I just can’t help
We didn’t do much on our first full day. We had planned on spending four nights here so we kind of took it slow. A lot of the time we spent looking around, moving from one cafe to another, having the odd massage.
Later that afternoon Tina got measured up for some clothes while I waited outside making use of the free WiFi. Once she had finished we were set to go back to the hotel. As we walked down the road I thought I heard an accent I recognised and turned to look to my right, but just heard Australian voices. I did a double take as the guy to my right jumping on a bicycle looked a hell of a lot like my cousin, who I haven’t seen for a decade. “Josh!” I exclaimed. No answer. What am I doing? I’m on the verge of making a massive dong out of myself. My brain is weighing up the odds in milliseconds. I decide that the most probable reasons he didn’t answer is because 1. his name isn’t Josh, 2. he’s from Australia and last time I checked, my cousin wasn’t and 3. I’m in Vietnam,
not Grimsby town centre. “Josh!” I shout again. Where the fuck did that come from? I walk over. He turned around and I could see he certainly looked like my cousin but I wasn’t sure, I only see the odd Facebook picture. He still hadn’t spoke for what seemed like ages. “Please don’t say g’day mate,” I repeated to myself in my head. I can’t remember what he said but whatever it was came out in a thick North East Lincolnshire accent.
So yea, that was weird. We had a conversation, arranged a meet up and off we went in different directions. By the time I arrived back at the hotel I was still a bit in shock, I wasn’t quite sure that actually happened.
We just ordered room service that evening as we couldn’t be arsed walking back into town to get food, and it really isn’t very expensive at all. I had spring rolls.
The second day was another slow day. We had originally planned on going to My Son, a nearby temple ruin but changed plans after having bumped into Josh. We slept in, went for lunch and a message again
before meeting Josh at about 14:30 I think it was. We spent the next few hours talking and catching up before Josh and Sophie had to leave to carry on with their group tour.
After the reunion we went on a cooking class tour. It was £30 for the both of us and included your own meal, which you would be cooking yourself. It was good fun. Really we just made the spring rolls (dancer) while the chef talked us through it. All the real cooking was done by the kitchen. I would like to mention here that the chef took a spring roll from the pile of eight that was there, and displayed its beauty to the rest of the class. She was impressed. That was my spring roll. She said something about it, sounded like ‘this springroll is badass mate’ or something. The rest of the table even asked if I was a chef. That’s right. Really though, I must have eaten about 1,000 since I’ve been here. I’ve had a long time to study the construction of a spring roll. I don’t know how it tasted because I couldn’t tell which was which after they had
been cooked. The best thing about this class though was the other participants, a holidaying Danish family, fortunately had to leave as the mains arrived to catch their bus, so we ate their food too. Yummy.
Another walk back to this hotel, this time the right, safer way.
The next day and our final day in Hoi An was spent at the My Son ruins. We caught the early tour bus from our hotel and were due back for 15:00. The tour was alright. It would have been better if it wasn’t absolutely rammed with people. Not only was it hard to navigate due to the wash of selfie-sticks, but the crowd takes away from the ruins themselves. We caught a boat back to Hoi An as part of the tour which included an awkward meal with people you didn’t know and already hated because they were getting in your way at My Son. That concluded the tour. We spent the rest of the afternoon supping the absolutely insanely good Vietnamese coffee brew through what appeared to be a bong, well I did. Tina had a hot chocolate and a coca cola because she has the pallet of
a 4 year old.
We then booked our bus to Hue for the next morning and took it easy for the rest of the night. I probably had spring rolls for dinner.
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