Hoi An was a romantic, wonderful little bubble. It was probably the most picturesque little town, and it was such a relief to escape Hanoi’s hustle.
(26th April) After the initial 13 hour bus, we arrived in Hue. I went to 2 different hospitals in the space of 15 minutes (on the back of motos) and they had both said, “ Sorry, it’s Sunday. No injections today!) I managed to meet up with my friends for a quick coffee and a game of pool. I then decided to wait for the bus (which I had assumed to be the same one) at the location where I was told to wait, then to meet them on the bus. However, I, along with 4 other lovely Brit girls and a couple, were rejected from going onto the bus.
The 4 girls were 19 but looked 25. It was a little bit ironic when they asked for my age; they probably expected to hear 15. It was actually really lovely to chat to them, and we got along really well. I told them that we should stick together if the second bus rejected us.
Suddenly, the woman who handled tickets for the first bus zooms back on a motorcycle, pointing at me and apologizing for the mistake. I was meant to be on that bus! (Told ya so). So, apologies flying, I jumped onto the back of her bike…only to realize a few minutes later that I had forgotten my big backpack. Hilarious and cartoon-like, we drove back and picked up my comically large bag. The girls and couple were amused by my optimism as I disregarded the gum which stuck to the bottom of my bag, leaving a delicate trail behind as we rode off again.
As I boarded the bus, I was excitedly searching for 11 familiar faces to screech success at them. Alas, I, of course, ended up on another bus which wasn’t theirs. Yes, yellow. Not theirs.
Sending whatsapp messages to them, it turns out that the girls and couple eventually boarded the same bus as my 11 friends. The irony.
I was stuck in the back left of the bus, next to 3 shy Vietnamese boys. To confess, I loved taking the bus by myself. I loved having my alone time to think, to write, to read and to nap. If I was surrounded by my friends, I would have felt pressured to make conversation shudder.
Upon arriving in Hoi An, I see 2 figures; an abnormally tall man, and a short little stocky dwarf (hah). It turns out to be Alex and Janosch, 2 guys I met on Catba island 2 weeks ago! They were motorbiking North to South, and it was by freak chance they were walking along the road of the hotel I was staying. Lots of smiles and hellos, they asked to meet up for dinner. I, regrettably, told them that I was going to have dinner with my 11 friends, who are quite awkward and cliquey when it comes to meeting new people. I felt like it would be an inconvenience and massively rude for me to invite these 2 to dinner. Additionally, I don’t think that anyone would’ve gotten along, which is a massive shame.
I head to the Hoi An hospital by myself, again on moto. It turns out that the hospital is only 5 minutes away, and I walk in at 7pm, and probably walk out less than half an hour later. This was even with lots of waiting. The nurses were lovely; I had a sign-language conversation with her about her baby, who was the wallpaper on her phone. She kept phoning the cashier to rush her dinner, so that she can let me pay for my Verorab RABIES injection. As soon as she came down, I paid the 30 dollar fee, and then had a nice man jab my shoulder and in a millisecond, it was done.
I took a moto to the Indian restaurant, Namaste. Why we were in an Indian restaurant in VIETNAM…in HOI-AN…was beyond me. It was just a suggestion made by Ian, which was fair enough. However, there was such a strange vibe of uncertainty and hesitation whenever we were in a large group together. Everyone was so self-conscious about being too demanding, or wanting to speak out about what they actually wanted to do. We had a group of followers, and Teeky and Ian being leaders. This made me feel a bit annoyed, to be honest, which is why Leigh and I often broke off from the too-large to manage group.
That evening, a few of us went out for drinks and a dance, whilst the others went to bed. To be honest, I was itching for a dance. We met up with the couple from the bus, and they were super keen on hanging out. However, the others were bored by their company, which is a real shame since they were lovely (the girl lived in Angel, too!) I forced everyone onto the dancefloor, where the DJ was taking all our song requests.RL Grime, Opiuo, Koan Sound, Breakbot, Madeon, all sorts were dropped and I danced till I was drenched in sweat. I managed to also get 2 very exciteable Vietnamese girls onto the dance floor, and they shrieked every other second. It was hilarious.
(27th April) 12 pm, home to wake up early the next day. The sleep was lovely. It was the best sleep I had in ages, due to no snoring and no noise of traffic. Bliss. We were greeted by a MASSIVE breakfast buffet – fresh eggs any way you want ‘em, and fresh pancakes too. I helped myself to the salads – OH I LOVE VIETNAMESE SALADS – and coffee. Day 1, we rented motorbikes and went straight to the beach. I was on Spence’s back – he’s been riding since he was in 8th grade so I felt fairly safe on his back.
Diving straight into the ocean was a wonderful feeling – I hadn’t been on the coast in too long. After lunch (seafood salad of course!), everyone relaxed….but I had forgotten my headphones and my book, and I was too antsy to sit and do nothing. People were joking about the excess energy I had, calling me the energizer bunny as they do back in London. Henry offered to take me home to pick up my stuff, which we did…and we also took a detour to check out the tailors called Wall Street. Incredibly skilled, the woman took me through all the possibilities of suits and shirts that I could have made.
Back to the beach, and we played a game of catch. Much fun.
That evening, we feasted on all you can eat spring rolls. It was magical. For 5 dollars, we had unlimited sticks of BBQ pork thrown at us; patties and fillets. Unlimited veggies, unlimited rice pancakes, unlimited springrolls to put inside other springrolls.
We then attempted another night of drinking and dancing. I didn’t have a drink though. We went to a place called Backpackers…and I think everyone wasn’t very bothered about drinking nor dancing. The group separated, and people went to the market. Leigh and I pretty much stuck together and had a look around the market, and enjoyed some gorgeous coconut ice cream.
People then went to the rice fields to take photos. Leigh and I, however, decided to stay home and look into leather jacket designs, as well as planning a cycling route. We slept early at 11.30.
(28th April) Day 3 in Hoi An, I may have had a bad night of sleep. I’ve been eaten alive by mozzies, and generally too hyped to sleep. Just in a good mood, overall. Leigh and I took this morning to go to the tailors, where she had to sit through my fitting and indecisiveness. I feel sorry for her and I always feel awful to put people through such inconveniences.
We had a lovely salad whilst I did more research for my suit tailoring, as I was utterly unprepared. Thank god Leigh did the research for the jacket – we basically got the same thing! I hope she didn’t mind too much. I should’ve, really, done more research myself but I don’t feel that bothered going through fashion websites.
The boys then picked us up from the centre of town to go back to the beach. It was great getting back into the water. Someone carried a humongous jellyfish the size of 2 heads out of the water. That was enough to keep me out.
Dinner on this particular night…it was just in some random restaurant. I think I remember getting a little bit annoyed that we were all following each other like headless chickens, and no one really knew where anyone was going. L and I were frustrated and were suggesting places to go, but in the end we settled for something quite expensive in the Old Town. We passed loads of cheaper, just as delicious (if not better) hole in the walls.
On this night, we went out to Tiger Tiger, I believe. I was getting annoyed at everyone since no one wanted to dance, and people only came onto the dance floor after their 4 games of pool (playing pool…in a club…). By this point, many other people flooded the dance floor; and since I was controlling the music with the laptop, people started taking liberties and changing the music mid-song, and putting on awful music. We left early, unimpressed.
I slept awfully this night. I was still pretty pumped up from all the dancing, and I had organized Mimi’s flight to land today. I’ve missed him a lot. I wish I had organized him to land that morning, but stupidly, on account of us being frugal, we decided for him to land at 10pm.
I need to stop having regrets. I constantly do that. There is no such thing as a bad situation, nor something as good. Something happens and it just happens; there is no need to define it on a scale of 1-10.
Anyway, I spent the morning getting a mani pedi with Leigh. We then had to go for fittings, for both the jacket and my suits.
I met everyone for lunch, and tried a gorgeous dish called ‘White Rose’ – effectively, yummy rice noodle dumplings. They all decided to bike off to Marble Mountain, but I had to do my fittings. We were all meant to bike to Danang tonight to catch some fireworks. However, I was exhausted, wanted to be alone, and wanted to meet JM in time. I decided to stay in Hoi An by myself. I went to a wonderful café where I had fresh spring rolls and read more of Murakami – whose book, 1Q94, has been annoying me tremendously. I find his prose weak (I’ve probably said this already) and his themes recycled. However, I want to finish it because I’m concerned if it’s just my impatience which isn’t dealing with the book properly.
I went back home and napped. 6pm, I was expecting JM in 3 hours. I walked along the river by myself, and grabbed some street food. Cao Lau – an al dente version of Bun Cha with sliced pork on top of a sweet suit. Deliccciiiousss. I sit next to a couple who are from NZ, and we get talking. They once lived in London too, and will be moving there. We briefly chatted small talk, and I told them about my volunteering. They, too, were tired of travelling and wanted to have some more ‘purpose’ to their travels. I warned them of IVHQ’s scam (who, by the way, refuse to refund me), said our polite goodbyes, and went on.
I also tried Che that day – jelly with a sweet tea-like syrup.
JM’s flight was delayed, and I managed to greet him at 11.30pm. There was a lot of traffic coming from Danang Airport too – my friends arrived at midnight, too. I snuck JM into the dorm that I was staying in. The people in the dorm replaced my friends as they were too disorganized to book the room. I stayed. Was that rude of me? They didn’t ask me to relocate, though.
Mimi and I move out of the dorm to the homestay, which is in some lovely family’s house. They give us a delicious banana smoothie to greet us. More fittings, more fittings, more fittings. Leigh and Mimi meet, and we have lunch at the same place with salads. We then rent cycles and head to the beach, where there is a mean hip-hop battle happening. Some good waacking, locking and breaking on the beach front, and I’m itching to dance. General fun picture taking and chilling.
Today, the old city is more crowded than ever. We didn’t even bother going by the waterfront – which is a shame because that’s all I wanted to do with JM. But, we anticipated it to be too busy, and then met up with the rest of the group at a restaurant, where, once again, everyone was awkward as hell. We said our goodbyes, and then Mimi and I went home to our too-hot homestay. It was a little hellish, reminiscent of the homestay we had in Cambodia but no-where near as bad.
Our last day in Hoi An. The final fitting. JM and I rented bikes and biked through the countryside. I love it. I really love it and will take it up as a new hobby. I will invest in a bike and make frequent trips to the countryside to bike.
How JM deals with me, I don’t know. All these fittings and errands I run.
We then settled in the same café I went to when I was alone, enjoyed lassies and salads, and then back to the homestay to shower. I’ve been showering 2-3 times a day. We caught our flight to HCM, whilst rain suddenly poured onto our heads. Hoi An was cleansing itself; it seemed appropriate during this holiday season!
A BK meal later, we found ourselves on the hour delayed flight which we slept straight through. We taxi’d to Yen Hotel, a beautiful little find in Saigon, and passed out at 1am.
Awake at 9, we nab our free breakfast of packet noodles (d’oh). I am officially addicted to coffee and feel GRUMPY and SNAPPY before it. 2 hours later, we then head over to the Museum of War Remnants – closed for lunch. Oops. JM is dying because of the heat and can’t think. I get us a cab, and we head to mall to buy him some shorts. I buy a pair of blue vans for 150 Dhs. Beauties. Although…a size too small.
Back to the hotel, I get my last Vietnamese meal of rolls and salad (all I god damn ate. Along with Ca Phe Sua Da – I make up for my calories with condensed milk!) Cabbing to the airport, to take our flight to Delhi. We’re currently in Bangkok, where we’ve stopped off for an hour, which is interesting. Like a bus ride.
Delhi for half a day, and then we take a 12 hour bus to Dharamsala.
I’m not even phased by the journeys we have to make because I have JM with me, all the while. Is that lame?