Sunday, January 19th
Our last evening in Hanoi was spent strolling through the night markets & around Hoan Kiem Lake, the liquid heart of the city. Preparations were frantically underway to light up & beautify the city for Tet or Vietnamese New Year. This is celebrated on the first of the lunar year & this year it falls on January 31st. Upon returning to our hotel, after the evening out, we were greeted by the night staff who produced a birthday cake & beer. You can imagine our surprise & delight at this thoughtful gesture. They had noticed Bob’s birth date on his passport (all hotels require guests to provide their passport on check-in) & ordered a decorated cake to surprise him. Despite the fact that is was around midnight & we tired after our long return trip from Halong Bay, we popped open the Heinekens, cut the cake & had a little party in the lobby. Special thanks to Quan, Xieu & the rest of the gang at the Indochina Hotel!
Next morning we headed to the airport for the 1-hour flight to Da Nang. Upon landing we decided to take the local bus to Hoi An, figured out which way to go & walked just over 1K to the bus stop. Cost was $2.50 each (vs $15.00 for a taxi) & experience priceless! (Right now we know our good friend Rob is shaking his head). We obviously stood out & I kept thinking to myself we must look really odd as they kept staring at us-guess they don’t’ get many vintage flashpacker’s on the milk run! They are quite organized with two ‘bus packers’ pushing oncoming passengers to their seats, collecting fares & stowed the various packages, all with the bus barely stopping.
We finally arrived in Hoi An & were dropped off at the local bus terminal. We were off-loaded & had NO idea where we where, or whether to turn left or right. There were no taxis to be seen, no one spoke English & we had a bunch of sketchy looking guys swarming us offering to take us into town. We decided to regroup & headed to a local stall for a beer to figure things out. The man with me in the picture, Mr. Tran, came over & we started to talk as best as possible. In the end we figured he was a pretty good guy, promised me he would take it easy, and ended up hopping on the back of both his & his partners scooters for the 6K ride to our Homestay, similar a B&B. He was a man of his word & needless to say we arrived safe & sound.