Hoi An

Well my day of freedom was great.  I was released from quarantine along with the American Doctor in there, so she was kind enough to drop us off at our hostel.  As I said before it’s a small world, and it was proven true yet again.  The day before I was to be released Duncan was at a bar in the backpacker district, when he bumped into Yinko and Anouk, our two Dutch friends.  So he updated them on my status, and we all went out for a celebratory dinner the day I was released (and ohhh how enjoyable it was after 1 week of hospital food!)

So the next night we were off to central Vietnam.  We had a cab picking us up at our hostel at 18:00, so we pretty much had a whole day to kill.  We killed some time at the market in Ho Chi Minh City.  The odd thing about this market is the vendors (well the female ones) gran you by the arm and forcibly pull you towards their stall.  Needless to say we didn’t spend much time here.  We mainly wandered the street just looking for things to do that would kill time.  We went to the big church and the old railway station which was complete with Communist propaganda: Giant poster of Ho Chi Minh and two statues showcasing the “power of the Vietnamese people”.  After that we slowely made our way back.  We saw another scooter accident.  The man was bloodied pretty bad, and wasn’t getting all that much attention from other motorists or the bystanders.  We passed him twice and the second time he was mopping his blood up with his own shirt, leaning his bike against the sidewalk (still on the ground unable to stand).  We then had a coffee… I ordered an iced coffee which it turned out I had to wait for…Drop by drop…In front of my face… Not that I was in a rush or anything, but come on…have a pot ready, don’t give each customer their own drop-cup.  After that we sat in a park, and watched some little kids hawking their goods on passerby’s (and trying to steal sandals).  We also got a chuckle out of the Vietnamese interpretation of excercise – and excercise wear.  We then grabbed a quick bite before heading back to the hostel to catch our cab to the train station.

Reunification Express

Well this train turned out to be the longest ride of my life.  The only bunks remaining were the two top-bunks in a 6 bunk compartment.  It basically gave us 2 feet to lie down and move around.  The only good thing was the top bunk came with the overhead storage we needed for our backpacks.  We quickly met a tour guide who was on vacation heading back to see his family in Hue.  Needless to say he was all to eager to give us information and provide his number so he could show us around when we arrived.  Funniest thing was the two old men on our train who looked completely lost.  We were laughing our asses off while feeling sorry for one of them who walked the distance of the car with his cellphone blaring, failing to realize it was ringing.

So the train departed Ho Chi Minh at 19:00, and we arrived in Da Nang at 12:30.  I slept like a baby in my bunk, whereas Duncan said he kept waking up.  We got by with snacks from the convienent store: I’m now officially sick of chocolate wafer cookies, whereas Duncans sick of Ritz crackers.

After arriving at Da Nang we were told the cheapest way to get to Hoi An (our destination – which isn’t on the train ride, but 30 km off the train line) was bus… the only thing is we couldn’t find it.  We shoo’d off the gaggle of taxi drivers and just started walking.  Eventually we got an old lady to point us to a bus stop (clearly a city bus – not one that would take us to Hoi An).  While sitting at the bus stop we were able to barter a taxi down to roughly $6.50, so we took the cab ride to Hoi An.

We got a nice hotel (not hostel) with pool, breakfast and everything for $18/night.  We dropped off our bags and hopped on the complementary bikes to head into the old town.  Hoi An is basically a little tourist hotspot, due to the fact is has a high Chinese influence with many little temples and bridges scattered about.  So we checked all that out rather quickly, and are now back chilling in our hotel.  We are now rushed with our visa’s expiring on the 26th.  We’re off at 07:30 to head to Hue at around 11:30 tomorrow.  We are hoping to get to the demilitarized zone that day, to avoid the need to rush through Hanoi.

We’ll update things later.

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  1. July 19, 2009 at 17:09

    Great job on your journal, Ben! I’m really enjoying reading about your adventure.

    If you can, get a visa extension. But most of all, have a great trip!!!

    Georges K.

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