Gary and Sarah Girotti/Jones|
Southeast Asia, here we come!
Coastal Crusade: Hanoi-bound!
Hoi An--Haven from Madness
We flew out of Nha Trang on Vietnam Air to Danang, about a 1 hour flight up the coast. Despite the rumors about Vietnam Air, the flight was great. I can't remember the last time I was on a flight where everyone got a hot towels and meal on a 1 hour flight from 10-11 am.
We did not stay in Danang because from all report there is not much to do there except take trips to old war battle sights. Since neither of us have Jeff Z's ability to wander around an empty fields and imagine military battles that happened 25+ years ago, and think it is fun, we went directly from the airport to Hoi An (well, as direct as roads in Vietnam are, anyway!)
45 minute into our reported 1 hour and 15 minute taxi ride, the driver stopped at a small intersection in a small town and said the only english words he had spoken the entire trip: "Hoi An - you get out". The driver pointed down a road smaller than our taxi and repeated, "Hoi An....Hoi An". Seeing no other option other than to commandeer the taxi, we saddled our packs and started down the small road. After a few minutes of walking we realized something strange--> No one was following us. There was not horde of hotel agents, postcard-selling kids, cyclo drives or hawkers of any kind. For a brief moment we thought the taxi had left Vietnam.
It turns out that Hoi An is just a sleepy, laid back little artist town. Exactly what we need!!
Hoi An in also known for its tailors. They are rumored to be able to make any garment, in any style, in any available fabric in less than 4 hour. After finding a hotel we set out to test this. Within short order we met a nice, young girl who spoke very good english. She gave us a tour of the market in exchange for us visiting her "mother's"? tailor shop. Sounded like a good deal and it was.
At the tailor shop (a shack with every wall stacked 8 ft high with every fabric known to man) we were given a clothing magazine and told pick any style and the fabric and they would make it--cheap cheap!! This included suits, hand bags, shoes, ties, whatever. We agreed to a button-down shirt (Japanese silk???) for Gary and a pair of pants for Sarah. It was 3:00 pm and they told us to come back at 5:00 to pick our clothes up. Two hours and $20US later Gary had a great shirt and Sarah had a pair of pants that she has worn many times since the purchase. We talked to other travelers that had whole wardrobes made. I do not know how they will get them home but they were very happy.
Speaking of happiness (or the lack thereof), come 2:30 AM a rooster, that's right, a ROOSTER, decided that the new moon must be the sun, so it was time to rise and shine. Every 45 minutes until we gave up sleeping...right outside our window...note to self: bring slingshot to all foreign countries!
After our restless night, we departed Hoi Ah in the morning by bus to Hue. 200 Km, estimated travel time 6 hours - you do the math....
Notes on bus trips in Vietnam
1 - to calculate the travel time from a known distance, first calculate the time using normal N.A. travel expectations, then double it, then double it again, then add 2 hours for every 6 hours of travel time for annoying stops at bus company owned hawker markets and bus company kick-back restaurants.
2 - when you are told that the trip is along the best highway in central Vietnam. Remember, there is only one highway in central Vietnam and it is a pothole infested, sometimes paved, 1.5 lane road.
3- get to the bus station early. If the bus has 35 seats there will be no less then 36 people onboard.
4- The best advise we can give is... do not take the bus.
We arrived in Hue late. 200km - 7 hours.... AAAAHHHHHHH
Hue was OK but the weather sucked (can we say that here??!), and after the bus frustration we decided to cut our losses and flight to Hanoi the next afternoon. This was probably unfair to Hue but as you will read in the next section if LHE/H >1, then low HC.