Nov 3, 2006 – The Coast – Hoi An

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We made it to Cua Dai beach near Hoi An in central Vietnam. We took the day train down from Sapa to Hanoi where we spent the night. We then went through a tough discussion on whether to take the bus to Hoi An (18 hours) or the sleeper train (16 hours). The train was double the cost and considering the marginal comfort it provided we opted for the bus (Torin continues to state his preference for the train even after the trip was over). It wasn’t as bad as we anticipated and although Mary was tired when we got there, Torin and I were okay. We had arranged for a room in Hoi An and the first thing Tor and I did was rent bikes and check out the beach which was about 5 km away. While there, we scoped out hotels and found one for $35 a night (compared to $9 a night in Hoi An). We talked ourselves into it as it included a buffet breakfast and was 100 metres from the beach. So, we’re in for a few days of schooling in the morning and hangin out on the beach in the afternoon. The water is warm, there a very few tourists, the beer is cheap and it’s fresh seafood for supper every night. It just doesn’t get much better (although I think I’ve said that a few times during this trip)!

This is Mary here and just wanted to add my twist to our experience in Hoi Ann. I am with Ger, on the fact that life just doesn’t get much better. The beach was absolutely stunningly beautiful. For those of you in the running group, that is Margaret , Tracey, Jen, Wendy and all the others, I had some of the most incredible jogs, barefoot along the white clean sand , with waves crashing in over my feet to keep me cool. After about the first 5 mintues of jogging , there was not a soul on the beach, other than a few locals fishing and bringing in their nets. I LOVED IT!!!!

Hoi Ann is also a very famous town in Vietnam, well known for it’s over 70 cloth shops.What this means is that you can go into any of these shops and have whatever your little heart desires made. You want a suit, an evening gown , jeans , shirts, halter tops, baggy pants , it’s yours and within a couple of hours. For a gal who can’t even sew a straight line this was totally amazing.

Needless to say we got hooked into one of the shops that was close to our hotel ,when we we witnessed four travellers from Holland explaining in delight all the wonderful stuff they were having made. Ger finally broke down and had himself measured. Two suits, 5 shirts, a pair of jeans and winter coat ,later, he was quite tickled to be thinking of his new wardrobe that he will have when he gets back next year. I of course could not be left out of this experience and also had two halter tops made and a couple of black plazo pants. I however, could not wait to wear these brand new clothes and did not bother shipping them home and therefore am now carrying them in my ever increasing heavier pack. Ugh!!!! I am trying to be the honest , true backpacker but all the wonderful markets , shops that we end up seeing keep enticing me and you can always barter for a better and cheaper price and before you know I have either a new top or a new pair of shoes or something. Hmmm!!!!

We once again experienced the tenacity and dare I say pushiness of the Vietnamese people.

Trying to get a quiet moment on the beach to have either have a chat or enjoy the scenery was almost impossible as there was at least 10 – 15 women and children selling fruit and goodies and bracelets and even offering pedicures and foot massages on the beach, nonetheless. They would literally follow you and/ or come up to you ,impinging on your personal space and then ask you repeatedly,if you wanted to buy something and if you said “No Thank You” , it didn’t matter , they would continue to stand right in front of you,and wait. I guess they were waiting for you to change your mind, which usually didn’t work for us at least , in fact , it got us rather annoyed and we would have to say No Thank you, oh , at least 5 or 6 more times before they finally got the message. Ger lost his patience one day and told one of them that the longer they stood there looking at him , the less chance there was that he was going to buy anything at all. The woman left shortly thereafter. On the other hand he also spoke with one of the young women who had good English and heard from her that she immensely disliked the job of selling fruit on the beach and so she was going to school in the evenings to try and learn English in hopes of getting a better paying job in a hotel in the future. After hearing her story , we of course came to some clearer understanding of their life situation but personally I think that if they had appropriate leadership and training, and some direction with selling and marketing to tourists , they could make alot more money selling their goodies and not upset the tourists with their constant hounding.

Oh, dear another project to put on the list!!!

Buy from me!!!buy from me!! buy from me!! Not only did we have the beach ladies asking us to spend our money but every time we walked from the hotel to the beach, all the local shop owners would shout out, Buy from me! They did this every day for seven days and every day we said No thank you , not this time! About the middle of our stay we started laughing and smiling at each other as we were walking down the street because they kinda of knew what our answer would be and yet they would continue to ask regardless. I think that I have already mentined it but there were very few tourists in the area we were staying in , so that definitely contributed to our very present presence for all the restaurant owners and shopkeeper and their wish for us to buy.

So after 7 nights and 8 days , we reluctantly agreed that it was time to move on as our Visa would be expiring in about a weeks time and it might be nice to check out another beach before we had to leave Vietnman. With the big ocean waves crashing upon the shore constantly, allowing us to body surf for hours at time , it was definitely hard to leave this beautiful spot.

But on November 12 we once again prepared for an overnight bus ride all the way down to Mui Ne, another well know beach resort area that is relatively close to Saigon. By now we are becoming experts at handling travelling through the night. We have plan that one person takes care of the bags and the other tries to get on the bus so that Ger can have a comfortable seat to stretch his long legs. This is usually either the front seat or the very back. The third person stands in the middle just hoping it’s all going to work. Guess who that might be? hahahaha We have small bottles of water, a few snacks, and MP3 players to tide us over in the middle of the night when one cant sleep because the bus is too hot and stuffy or you don’t have enough leg room to stretch or the person beside you is sleeping and falling over into your lap and you gently got push them back into their seat.

Oh isn’t travelling fun!!!!