We boarded the bus to Hoi An, via Hue. We were under the impression that this was a 12 hour bus, getting us into Hoi An the next morning, it wasn’t it was a near 24 hour bus. We must of misheard the girl in the hotel. The bus was pretty full as it turned up so we knew we wouldnt get seats together, Robbie headed to the back and I sat at the front, after waving night to each other I was determined to get some sleep on this bus. I tried and tried for ages and eventually dropped off until the bus started stopping and starting all the time, looks like we were on another taxi bus for all the drivers mates. So after they had all hopped on and got themselves comfy in the aisle I tried again to fall back to sleep… But no, one of our ride alongs in the aisle next to me was snoring so loud I don’t know how anyone was getting sleep, I either needed to ignore it or casually drop one of my cushions down onto his face, I did the latter and to my delight the snoring stopped and I slept until Hue.
We were to get off at Hue wait an hour and get on another bus that would then get us into Hoi An at 6pm, in true ticket office style it was all very unorganised and there was a group of unsure people hanging around the streets but I was happy we got a brew and some food and waited for our next bus. This time we got to sit together so at least I had someone to talk to. Arriving in Hoi an with our chosen hostel from the lonely planet book we set off to find it, I was in charge of the map, we were walking down the cutest street, all lit up with lanterns. We reached the river and I was so excited it was so so beautiful, turns out however I had the map upside down, so back we went to the other side of the town.. You’d think Robbie would of learnt by now not to trust me with the map, maybe he feels sorry for me or something. We found the hotel, checked in and went straight back out through the little town, we kept seeing signs for beer at 3000 Dong, that’s about 30 cents a beer! It was locally brewed, tasted alright with a squeeze of lime and went down very nicely with the beautiful view.
We had decided to only stay a few days here but in the end spent 6 days as we loved it so much. The next day it rained but we didn’t mind, went for a little wander around the old town to get our bearings and then the heavens really opened. Nothing our pac a macs couldn’t handle as we darted into a cafe while the worst of it passed over. When we got back to our room the window had flooded and luckily just missed our bag, we tried to clean it up as best we could and asked if we could move rooms, they said no, I said why, they said no, I said we would leave, they gave us a new room. But not before the maid came upstairs and used our own personal towels to mop up the water, we were trying not to laugh at her swishing them around on her feet and mumbling to herself. After getting in the new room everything was all good so we went out for dinner and a few drinks, a few drinks turned into a few to many home brewed beers. The lady at the bar told us they were closing because they have no power, it was 8.45 pm and the lights were still on, it was all very confusing.
I had seen people walking down towards the river all night and wondered if there was something going on, we headed down after paying the bill and there was so many people, big groups of kids lighting lanterns and making a 60 pattern on the floor. Then at 9pm the whole city’s lights turned off, all the street lamps, restaurants and bars all in darkness, the only thing lighting the town was candles everywhere, even floating down the river, it was all very exciting and everyone started clapping and singing and dancing. We paid to make a wish and put our own candle in the river too and then walked around while everyone was celebrating. Apparently all major city’s have a power hour to celebrate the world and reserve energy, something I didn’t know about until now. We bought some more floating lanterns for the river to add to the masses already in there and walked around the markets all lit by candle light and the handy lantern stall on the end. It was so beautiful to see everyone so excited and happy. We walked past a bar and the guy asked us to sit down to make it look busy, clearly people were boycotting places while the power was off, we paid for one drink and he promised to refill our drinks all night if people came in the bar, we started to speak to one couple who joined us with our refilled drinks, this then went on all night, Robbie and Sean handed out the occasional flyer and this guy was loving life with a busy bar, stumbling to a very sketchy club and throwing out some very questionable dance moves I don’t know who decided or how we even got home but we made it and all in all spent around $5 each all night. At some point in the night we had promised the bar owner we would borrow his moped the next day to drive the Haivan pass, and boy I’m glad we didn’t we couldn’t even remember breakfast and spent the morning nursing a sore head.
However the sun was shining and I thought I was feeling loads better, so we hired push bikes instead and rode out to the beach, round the town and back to the hotel, It was so much fun and we were out all day, riding through the rice paddies and watching he farmers and water buffalos do their thing. I was pretty sure I had avoided any kind of hangover, but no it hit me like a tonne of bricks and I spent the rest of the night having a breakdown and not being able to move, all very dramatic and stopped quiet suddenly a few hours later when I had some food. We had reserved a moped for the next morning to drive the Haivan pass feeling a little fresher. We didn’t have a map or the internet we decided to screen shot the route from Google maps on my phone and hope for the best.
After telling the first guy where we were going he straight up said no and didn’t give us a bike, the second guy we lied to just said we were popping to the beach. Six hours later, a few tanks of fuel and the riskiest bike ride ever we were back in one piece, but it was so worth it. The Haivan pass made famous from Top Gear is the scenic road connecting Hue to Hoi An, we decided to drive the other way towards Hue and stop halfway and drive back. The roads were so crazy and we dodged many buses and fellow bike riders. The moped we had wasn’t the best and we were sure to break down at some point but it stuck with us and we completed the trip. The views from the top were incredible and we were right up in the clouds, winding back down through the hills along the costal road, I had the easy job hanging off the back and taking pictures while Robbie full on trooped through concentrating till the end although we did make it there and back with my navigational skills so I deserve a little credit.
We spent the night eating delicious food and wandering all the streets of Hoi An around the river, this place is beautiful in the day but really comes to life at night when it’s all lit up, I quickly fell in love here. After the most relaxing four days we booked an extra few nights and a bus to Dalat. When we were in the booking office they sold us a tour that was about $7 each to the Myson ruins which is a historical site that was so badly damaged by the Americans. There is one building still standing that the Vietnamese are trying to restore holding precious artifacts they managed to recover after the bombings. Our guide was so hilarious and reminded us of the guy that sings ‘Gangham style’, he didn’t take his sunnies off all day and referred to us as his ‘Tiger Team’ with accompanying tiger paw gesture.
His father was a lieutenant in the Viet Cong and told us the most incredible stories and showed us around the site that the Viet Cong used as a base in the war, which is why unfortunately it was so badly damaged as the Americans found out and bombed the whole area. The day was so so hot and I spent most of it trying to find shade and slowly dying at the back of the group, good jobs Robbie’s a dab hand with the camera, we then got to visit an island dedicated to carpentry and watched them build some boats. We cruised along the river back to Hoi An which again was so lovely. I really really really didn’t want to leave Hoi An it was so much fun and incredibly beautiful, I spent the night buying gifts and a lovely handmade bag and then packed the backpack ready for our next destination. I think I was getting super sad because the trip was more than halfway through now and I really couldn’t bare the thought of leaving Asia. We spent the night looking into Dalat and what we could do from there and finally in HCMC.