22 October – Hoi An
Wake up about 7.00am, which is a little earlier than I planned, or wanted.
But, when your body decides that it no longer needs, or wants, something that it’s retaining, you kind of need to get up.
And because it seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, I too needed to be quick.
Mission accomplished, we got ready and headed down to breakfast.
The occasional sharp stomach pains and cramps reminded me that all was not completely well, so a simple plate of fruit; banana, watermelon and papaya; was the preferred breakfast choice.
And of course a caphe sua da, which was probably not the greatest of ideas, and was not enjoyed as much as what the fruit was.
Back up to the room to get ready for the day ahead, and, well, here we go again….
Twice in an hour, and now I’m worried. I hope it’s just a short term thing, but I have this fear that it could be May 2016 all over again.
Yep, I’m worried.
Decide to take a chance and go with our original plans for the day, which is a bike ride to the beach, so we head downstairs to borrow some bikes.
The two main things I wanted to achieve were to see Cua Dai beach again, as well as see An Bang beach which we didn’t get to last time.
Out into the traffic of Hoi An, which, when compared to other areas of Vietnam, isn’t actually too bad. We make our way across to Cua Dai road and then continue towards the beach. My recollection from three years ago was that it was quite an enjoyable ride, and this time it’s the same.
The fact that the area is very flat certainly helps with the enjoyment, and the bikes being half reasonable also helps with the whole riding thing.
We come into the little town at the end of the road, and then cross over to have a closer look at the beach.
And then, as I was expecting, it begins….
“Hey, park bike here”, yells the self appointed ‘bike parking’ man.
“No, I’m just having a look”, I reply.
“You can’t take the bike on the beach”, is his response.
“I’m not, I’m just looking”, I say, now starting to get slightly irritated.
But then Lisa starts. “You can’t take the bike on the beach”, she annoyingly informs me.
Deep breath…… “I’m just having a look, and I can have the bike here”, I say, trying to remain calm.
The numerous tyre tracks in the sand told me that many others had already been here, and anyway, mainly because of the way he’d spoken to me, there was no way I was going to give in to the demands of a guy who was throwing around his supposed ‘authority’ on all things bike parking related.
Yes, I can sometimes be a little stubborn, and perhaps on this occasion my patience levels were being slightly impacted by not feeling as well as I’d like.
I can see a bit of what I want to on the beach, but not enough, so I leave the bike with Lisa.
Down on the beach, all is revealed. And it’s not good.
Not long after we’d returned from our first trip, we’d heard about erosion issues here at Cua Dai. At the time we hadn’t noticed any evidence of it, but having seen some photos, it was clear that the beach had changed dramatically.
And now, I was seeing that change with my own eyes.
While there is some ‘beach’ there, along with sun lounges and umbrellas, the most noticeable thing on the beach is the massive sand bags.
They are huge, and there are heaps of them.
It is very sad to see.
Back on the bikes, we headed off in the direction of An Bang. Now starting to heat up, it was a very leisurely ride.
While there wasn’t a lot of traffic around, there were lots of security type people about. The countless signs advertising APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) 2017, which was to be held in Danang in November, pretty much explained the situation.
A little further up we found the delegate’s cars for the conference. Black Audi’s, all with country specific number plates. And there were heaps of them.
Managed to spot the Australian one, so took a chance and snapped a quick photo.
I’m not sure if the security guy with the gun saw me, or just chose not to see me, but needless to say, we decided to move on fairly quickly.
Eventually we get to the road off to An Bang, and turn right.
And then it begins again….
“Park here, park here”, comes multiple ‘requests’.
“Just having a look”, I say, feeling like we’ve done this before.
It worked well, until we got to the guy with the whistle. Yeah, a whistle.
Seems having a whistle, and being prepared to use it, makes you all official. Well, he seemed to think so. I, on the other hand, wasn’t convinced.
On we went, until we got to the guy in the box. He tells me that we can’t go any further.
This annoys me greatly, seeing as I can see other bikes up ahead. It also annoys me because I’m sick of people telling me what to do.
But, he has his own box, and that makes me think that he may have some authority.
Well, at least more authority than whistle man.
I quickly come to the realisation that I’m probably not going to win this one, and anyway, I’m not sure the effort is worth it.
We turn around and head back from where we’ve just come from.
Whistle man makes another attempt at getting our bike parking business, but there’s no way that’s going to happen.
Blowing a whistle at me, whilst not wearing an umpire or police uniform, will not result in you achieving your aim.
It’s an adage I’ve lived my whole life by. I just didn’t realise it until that moment.
We get to the next bike parking area, which is run by a woman who seems really friendly, and decide to give her our business. We have a bit of a laugh with her; suspect she watched our little interaction with whistle man; and we entrust our bikes to her for the grand total of 5000 Dong each.
Finally down onto the sand and there’s no shortage of sun lounges. Or people.
And interestingly, or not, most hang around that first group of lounges that you see when you first get on the beach.
Yeah, that’s not my preference, so we walk a little to get away from the hordes.
We head up left, which is towards Danang, and walk a few hundred metres before spotting a lone girl with six or seven lounges and umbrellas set up.
Free use of the chairs, as long as you buy something, is the offer.
We have a swim, and while the surf is pretty rough, it’s a bit of fun. And the water temperature is very pleasant; not too warm like last time.
We speak briefly to another couple from Melbourne, which reminds me that we haven’t seen too many Aussies here, and then it’s back onto the beach to dry off and people watch.
As I’ve said many times, watching the world go by in Vietnam is one of my favourite things. And doing that on the beach is no different.
The guy and girl wearing goggles, which they continue to persevere with, despite them getting knocked off every second wave.
You just don’t see goggles on the beach much, in Australia….
Or the larger, and older guy, with the tiny kid’s floatation ring, which really, if things start to go bad, probably isn’t going to be enough to save him.
We order a couple of fruit juices; watermelon for Lisa, and obviously pineapple for me; and then decide to get wet again.
So far, my body is dealing reasonably well with its issues from this morning. Not great, but okay.
A couple of soft drinks to give us something to do while we drip dry, as well as bump up our bill a little seeing as I feel slightly guilty about how much, or how little, we’ve spent while enjoying the sun lounges.
Since we have arrangements for this afternoon, we head back to the bikes about 12.00pm. Fortunately, our 10 000 Dong was enough to keep our bikes safe, and we’re soon on our way.
Back out across the main beach road, and seeing as there’s no point heading back down to Cua Dai, we continue along Hai Ba Trung. The assumption being, that both Cua Dai road and Hai Ba Trung, sort of run parallel with each other back into Hoi An. More on that later….
There’s a bit of traffic around, but it’s a pretty leisurely ride, and it’s quite enjoyable looking out across waterways and farmland.
Farmland soon begins to give way to housing as we get closer to Hoi An, and the realisation of my incorrect assumption about Cua Dai and Hai Ba Trung roads, quickly sinks in.
Not bothering to trouble Lisa with directional details and advice; quite possibly would have ended up in Danang if I did; I manage to get us back to familiar streets.
Yes, it was probably more luck than anything, but I got the job done.
Back to the hotel and proceed to undo all the good work that the housekeepers have done in our now clean room, by sprinkling sand all around it.
Probably should remember to wash that off before we go upstairs next time….
We get cleaned up, and seeing as we’re not being picked up for our XO Walking Food Tour until about 2.30pm, and because we’ve only had one caphe sua da today, we head out in search of the second best drink in Vietnam.
Out, and around the corner, and just down the road a little, café found. While there’s not that many around for a good session of people watching, there are two guys building a new house next door.
One guy on the roof, the other guy on the ground filling a wheelbarrow with bricks. Once the wheelbarrow is full, it’s then attached to an electric pulley and lifted up to the roof.
Roof guy then empties said wheelbarrow, reattaches pulley, and wheelbarrow is then sent back down to the ground.
Could you imagine something like that happening in Australia?
Not a chance!
And that’s one of the things that I love about Vietnam; you see stuff that you would never see at home.
Lesson in occupational health and safety, as well as caphe sua da, finished, we head back to wait to be picked up.
A few minutes later our guide, Trang, turns up and we head off into town to pick up another couple. Henny, from Indonesia, and Amber, from the US, but living in Indonesia, found, we head up to an apparently, fairly new walking / motorbike bridge.
We then begin the walking part as we start making our way across the bridge. Even though we’re only a few hundred metres from the hotels and resorts of An Hoi Island, it very quickly feels like we’re nowhere near tourist central.
Yep, much nicer.
Across to the other side, while Trang talks about Vietnamese life, and we’re soon at a local restaurant for a late lunch.
Yep, the food bit is about to begin, and while I feel alright, I am a little concerned.
Pippies, followed by prawns, and then soft shell crab.
Especially the soft shell crab. While I’ve had crab plenty of times, I don’t think I’ve ever had the soft shell variety.
Just incredibly tasty, and along with the fact you that you just eat the whole thing; no shelling required; well, that just made it even better.
Yep, definitely suits my laziness tendencies….
Could have had a beer with it all, but still being relatively early, I show some quite rare maturity and willpower and decide on a water instead.
Happily, if somewhat surprisingly, I actually feel pretty good, and end up eating a fair bit.
Lunch done, we continue our walk, taking in the local life of the area. And it really is a great area. So authentic, and so far removed from the ‘madness’ of Hoi An central.
We soon end up on a fairly quiet country road surrounded by farmland. Locals tending their crops, water buffalo lazing in fields, the occasional farmer walking his cows. Yep, love this sort of stuff.
Our next stop is a local’s house, and we head in to meet the family. Through Trang interpreting for us, we hear about what life is like here, including what it’s like when the wet season starts.
I often hear about Hoi An flooding around October and November, and I’ve seen quite a few photos of what it looks like, but to see where this family actually lives, and to hear how they cope with it, well, it just gave me a whole new perspective.
What they have to go through most years is just incredible.
Because we’re on a walking and food tour, and because we’re not actually walking at the moment, we do the food thing again.
Crispy and soft rice cake, which is alright, followed by spring rolls, which are beautiful.
But, I think I may have gone too hard on the soft shell crab, as I start to go downhill a little.
Yep, I’m now just a little concerned.
We say goodbye to the family, and continue our walk. Back out into the countryside and eventually into the town of Cam Kim.
It’s starting to get dark as we get to a small local market, and while I always love a market, I now feel terrible. I actually consider pulling the pin, which I really didn’t want to do, but I am struggling.
I’m just so disappointed.
While at the market, we end up doing a small cooking challenge of making a type of savoury pancake, before heading into a nearby house to eat it.
It’s lovely, and the girls get right into it, but I’m done. I just can’t eat anymore, partly because I’m full, but mainly because I just can’t stomach the thought.
Now very dark, we head over to the river and jump on a boat that will take us back to Hoi An.
And, just because we haven’t eaten enough already, we have more food.
I can’t do it, and I feel really guilty about that, but I just can’t.
Instead, I decide to have a beer. Perhaps not the greatest of ideas, but it’s probably a case of trying to drink through it. And hopefully kill it in the process.
Returning to Hoi An, and as usual when it’s all lit up, it looks lovely. As well as busy…
Off the boat, and seeing as we haven’t had dessert yet, we head into Cargo restaurant.
Well, you don’t reckon Lisa was in heaven when she saw the dessert selection. Yep, dessert is on an equal footing with the kids when it comes to her favourite things.
It may actually be in front of the kids.
And no, I’m not sure I’m in her top four….
Dessert not being in my top ten; probably not even in the top fifty; I opt for another beer.
Drink through it……Drink through it……
A glass vase sitting on a ledge behind Lisa somehow manages to now be sitting on the floor. Although ‘sitting’ is perhaps not the best word, as sitting would imply that you could just pick it up.
The vase was no longer ‘pick up-able’, unless you had a brush and pan.
Lisa blamed the woman behind her; the woman behind blamed Lisa.
I blame the silly positioning of the vase.
Desserts done, Trang left the four of us to our own devices.
She really was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and was able to show us things that the vast majority of visitors to Hoi An wouldn’t even know existed.
We sat and talked to Henny and Amber for a while, before walking back to the hotel.
Wrote a few notes, did a bit of Trip Advisor, and just generally sat there feeling like, well, crap.
Considered the drinking through it again, but then just decided to give up.
The flogging of dead horses is just a serious waste of time.
Pissed off, angry, disappointed, and worried.
Worried that it’s going to be May 2016 all over again, and we still have a week and a half of this holiday left.
Called it a night by 10.00pm, and while I’m really looking forward to what we’re doing tomorrow, I’m not looking forward to how I think I’m going to feel.
I’m also not looking forward to what the night might have in store for me either, for that matter.
I’m so pissed off….