Tailors and bikes
07.02.2009 - 14.02.2009
We boarded the Sinh Travel bus again for our next stop, Hoi An. Our first sleeper bus gave us an uncomfortable, if not slightly dramatic night. Two tiers of almost beds, we were both given the top bunk right at the front, which although gave us a lovely view of the mountains, also gave us a vivid view of the sheer-drops off the side of the road, and the road accidents on the way. We arrived in Hoi An quite early, found a room and went for a wander with Ross and Pam, who ended up on the same bus. Before Vietnam we hadn't really been interested in having any clothes custom made for us, but the nearer we got to Hoi An, the more it appealed. Brads has always has problems finding well fitting suits (and even shirts) off the rail, and well Anna is after all a girl, so we set out to find a good tailor, amongst the many many choices. It seems every second shop here is a tailor, all promising the best clothes at the cheapest price. Following a few recommendations from the internet we found (KHOI??) run by a fantastic lady, who wasn't pushy at all. All measured up, we went out for a drink in town. Hoi An is an amazingly beautiful town, with lots of old architechture and alleys and bridges. We had heard of the light festival, held each full moon, but had no idea it was that evening. The river was packed, and the most amazing lanterns were floating around the river. Most of the town inside the old city walls, turns off their electric lights and use candle light for the evening, giving the streets a romantic glow.
The light festival
Waiting for our clothes to be made, we had quite a chilled couple of days sorting stuff out for the rest of our time in Vietnam, and having a good natter with our new Glaswegian friends. Trying on the clothes, bearing in mind they were winter coats, was almost too hot to cope with, but we did have a really good time at the tailors. We were over the moon with our clothes, all of them being exactly what we wanted. Everything was bundled tightly into the smallest box possible and sent via surface mail. Hopefully within three months our clothes will be arriving home unscathed.
Brads getting measured up
Brads in his suit
Our next bus journey was short but aboard the sleeper bus, so we felt obliged to conk out as soon as we boarded. We arrived in Hue early afternoon, and again found it wasn't quite what we expected. We do try to approach each place with an open mind, but we find it hard not to imagine some aspect of a destination. Pam and Anna left the boys and went in search of some accommodation, coming up trumps. The accommodation is a bit more expensive in Vietnam, but you get a lot more for your money. Hot water and a tv seems almost standard. Keen to see some of the city that day, we hired bicycles for the afternoon. In hindsight this doesn't seem the best idea, especially when Vietnamese road sense appears almost non existent at times. We had an adrenalin pumping ride across a narrow bridge, which took us to the palace. Although in the process of being restored, there was still a huge amount of the site that is in ruins. What we did see was bathed in gold, with more intricate designs. The return journey was even more action packed, with Anna nearly getting totaled by a guy on a motorbike who was a bit distracted as he was picking his nose. Unsurprisingly, Anna did her best to point out the error of his ways and the bad timing of his nasal dig.
Us four on the bikes
Ross and Pam had to press on with their trip up to Hanoi the following day as they discovered they were not going to receive their expected tax rebate for a while and had to cut their trip short. We had only been travelling together for a few days, but it felt like much longer, so made an effort to make the most of the night. We found cheap beer in a small local restaurant and sat at tables in the street getting nicely drunk. We then headed to a late night bar to play some pool, have a few more drinks and chat until the early morning. We spent the next day recovering before Ross and Pam left on an evening bus. Our bus for Laos left early the following morning.
Bye Ross and Pam!
Vietnam was more than we had expected. Before we had left for the trip we had been really excited about going there, but quite a few travellers on our way gave it such poor reviews that we only ended up purchasing two week visas. We would have loved to have spent more time and visited more places along the way, but we have decided that this is one place that we'd definitely like to return to someday. We fell in love with Saigon, laughed in Dalat, relaxed (got drunk) in Nha Trang, got suited and booted in Hoi An and diced with death on the roads of Hue.