It’s taken a while to get to this. When we got home, we both got rather sick. Anyway, the day started off OK. After a big breakfast, we went back to Danang Airport and flew to Saigon to be greeted by Bino and Miss Sue. Our Visa had expired 9 days earlier so we were shown into a room like the ones you see on TV where the suspects are taken. The Officer there was very nice and showed us a board which set out the various penalties for offenses. Our fine ranged from 500,000 to 2m per person for overstaying the visa. He set us at 1.5m each and signed our booking document so we could check in. He asked us to come back for a receipt. So we checked in, but when we went back, it was all rather ugly with yelling between our official and a rather large German person. Anyway, they finished their yelling so we went in to get a receipt and an unexpected 500,000 return of funds. The Responsible Adult reckons the Official was going to pocket the money, but I reckon we got a refund for good behavior.
And that’s about it for Vietnam. We loved it.
So we got on a plane to Changi Airport. First thing we found out is that even though you may just be going through an airport, you still have to go through Customs and Immigration. And they aren’t that friendly. When we got out, we started waiting for Miss Sue who was following. We waited around in the public area of Changi Airport which is a place you don’t want to be, although thousands of Singapore residents wouldn’t agree and just love to hang there being loud and obnoxious.
Eventually, we found out that Miss Sue was in departures (the nice bit) having arrived and not bothered to come through customs yet. So we went in there full of the grump. But she took us to Terminal 3 where there is a bar and swimming pool and things started to calm down. Except beers are $14 and Margaritas are made with lime cordial.
Eventually, at 2am, we left for Sydney. The Responsible Adult and I were about the only ones stuck with one seat so sleep and comfort were not optional for us. Oh well.
Back in Sydney, we met an interesting and inept bus driver who slowly took us to domestic, then boarded a plane for the Sunshine Coast. The plane looked like a senior citizens day out and was rather disappointing after the youthful vibrancy of Vietnam. Now we just want to go back.
Up early to meet our tour guide to My Son. He wanted to stop at Marble Mountain but we were concerned about the heat and just kept going. Got to My Son after about an hour. Our guide is a high school teacher who was quite knowledgeable. My Son was constructed by the Cham people from India and started in the fourth century. They were able to make strong bricks and instead of mortar used a glue that cannot be duplicated. Somewhere in the 14th century they were done over by the Vietnamese, Cambodians and Chinese.
The temple was rediscovered by the French who knocked the heads off the statutes in an attempt to break the culture. The site was also bombed by the Americans. We could walk through the buildings which had a pattern. A waiting room, a gate and a temple. The society placed Monks above the king. They also made some sort of holy water. It was beautiful.
Dancing girls ended the tour as you would expect. By ten, we were hot and ready to head back for our arvo nap.
Went into Hoi An for dinner then back for an early night. The Restaurant had a male waiter so we were not expecting much, particularly as he gave the usual Vietnam assurance – Don’t worry, you’ll love it. But in fact he must have listened to us as we both got what we ordered, how we ordered it and we did love it.
Decided to go to the little town early and caught a cab at 8am. It was still bloody hot and after a once round the market, I was unsteady. Stopped at the cafe we like for iced coffee but it was a boy serving. We are over getting stuff that isn’t what we asked for so we sent the first one back. The second one wasn’t much better but we took it because we were stuffed. At least he only charged us a dollar each. Bit of shopping then back to our pool and air conditioning. About 2 we went to the bar for too many beers.
Decided to try the local restaurant down the beach and started off really well. It was great sitting on the beach even with farting Japanese next to us. The Responsible Adult ordered Vodka and coke and got the whole bottle while I had Saigon beer. I went up with the lady to inspect the seafood and ordered 4 large shrimp. They were sensational. But the Responsible Adult ordered Spring Rolls which didn’t turn up. I went up to ask about them but it was chaos. People running around and jumping through windows so I gave up. After a bit longer the Responsible Adult went to ask and was told a couple of minutes. But they just didn’t turn up so we gave them$10 and left. Back at the resort restaurant we sat down but nobody came. Odd given that they seem to have lots of staff.
Oh well, that’s Vietnam.
After breakfast and a dip in the China Sea, we headed into town on the minibus. 10.30 was too late as it was crazy hot and after about two streets we had to stop for a cold drink. This worked out well as the place we stopped at was good and cheap. We decided that we would come back for dinner. Went on a bit further but didn’t cover the little town. A bloke wanted to sell me a paper – bought it but gave the paper back for him to sell again. Came back for swimming and air conditioning and headed back at four.
Still sweaty but manageable. Dinner was good and I had a try at Ray Fish. Nicely done and tasty but it had a weird bone structure so not easy to eat. The bloke with the paper found me again. I think it was the same paper so I bought it again and this time he insisted that I take it. Not a bad read. It doesn’t have endless comments from conservative opinion writers.
Bought some trinkets and came back for a night cap. Chatted to some Aussies who recommended a local restaurant down the beach. Must have been in Vietnam too long as I’m whinging about paying$1.75 for a can of beer here.
The girls in Hanoi have taken to giving us a big breakfast. Must be four eggs so with full bellies we walked to the ATM which was enough for me. Spent the morning in air conditioning. We checked out half hour early and as our car was waiting we headed off to the airport. At check-in we were offered an earlier flight which was going pretty soon. So straight through the process with the Responsible Adult texting on the way to arrange earlier pick up.
First impressions of Danang is that it is VietVegas.Glad that we didn’t stay there. As we got closer to Hoi An, the resort’s got less like big Cainos.
Good check-in and the room is gorgeous with a private pool. Air conditioning struggling to keep up because it is very hot. Bar and food prices are high without the quality that we expect from these prices. Bloody $1.75 for a can of beer! I ask you.
Got a cab to a swanky shopping mall. People in suits bowed to us and I had read that it had recently been refurbished. The owners thought it would bring good luck. The problem is that the prices are more expensive than Australia. So no luck with us. Rent is $150 a metre. I tried a Japanese sweet treat which was like a squash ball filled with chocolate. After that, we walked to Puku but the trip was very harsh. It’s so bloody hot. So we got a cab back.Mai Linh seem good. Recovered enough to walk back for dinner, say goodbye but again needed a cab back.
Not a lot happened today. We walked around the place and ended up at Puku. Draft beer for under two bucks. On the way we had tried to buy a little temple but the language was a problem. We need it shipped. On the way back we tried again with the daughter translating. Their idea was for us to buy a container load. No chance.
Quiet arvo and early dinner. But not before playing with the staff in the restaurant. They were so priggish when we arrived.
The morning started well. We both had a decent sleep on the train and decided to go to Puku. After braving the walk of ten thousand taxi drivers, we made it there. The place was pumping out some good music (Dap Step) and the night manager really knew the coffee machine. He also provided the name and address of a noodle shop for me. Apparently the noodles are a must try in Hanoi.
We walked down creepy street to the hotel for a welcome shower. The staff seemed glad to see us.
Went down to Pho Hung Bong to the silk shop. Clothes needed adjustments so we went to the noodle shop. Its name is ten and it’s at 10 Ly Quoc. It sells ten different types of pho all with beef. Tasted pretty darn good even though the beef was wasted on me.
Moved on to the lake where I bought an old Ganesh and a new pipe. As we left some arsehole splashed gutter water on the Responsible Adult leaving her with an oil slick on her shoe, but then a nice local man helped out with some tissues.
Back to the hotel for a rest before heading back to the silk shop. Some penny pinching over 20cents spoiled it a bit, but the clothes look good.
Down to Puku for dinner where we were greeted. Unfortunately a group of ugly Australians sat near us but the staff did well. It’s bad when you feel the need to apologise for the behavior of other people.
On the way home, I stepped in some water in the gutter. When we got back and there was some light, it looked like I had stepped in the filthiest crap in the world. No spare shoes!
The good news is that we have become used to Hanoi so creepy street is a lot less scary.
So we’re sitting at a cafe in Lao Cai drinking booze and waiting for the 9pm to Hanoi. We had a lazy day mostly watching cable. Went down to Baguette and Chocolat to see if Manu would turn up but she was a no show. Didn’t really expect her as she is pretty impatient and would have wanted to be off.
Highlight of the day was a weird moth that gave me a nip. Hopefully not a weremoth.
Warm bus ride down and dropped at the Paradise cafe who fixed our tickets.
Good luck to us for the train trip.
This morning we went looking for Khu and with the idea to visit Cat Cat village. Reception had told us that the only way back up was motorbike or private car at$15. As this is big money in Vietnam, we weren’t going to go until we decided that$15 wasn’t a big deal after what it cost to get here. No Khu at the market so we headed off to Cat Cat village. Nice walk downhill. We stopped at an art gallery where we liked the work so bought two ink drawings of H’mong ladies with babies.
More downhill. Stopped to buy a bag which we will need for all our H’mong purchases. More downhill and starting to worry about getting back. Stopped at the waterfall for a minute then started up. Met some Oz oldies. Now I normally avoid the Oz mob but for some reason decided to give them a bit of chat. They went off and we were left at a leather stall. I had been looking for a leather worker since we arrived so had a good chat, looked at his gear and bought a buffalo belt for a tenner. We went on uphill with lots of motorcycle touts and had to stop for a drink. After a rest we managed to get to the car park where the Oz mob were waiting. There was a minibus there that they were about to get on,so we asked what they paid. Turned out it was their private tour and they offered us a lift back. God bless the Victorians!
Back at the town we looked for Khu but she still wasn’t visible. Stopped at the kiddies cafe for lunch. Drink and a pastry.
After a rest we headed back to town to find Khu and have a cocktail. Khu and Chi were just down the road on their way to us. The Responsible Adult bought more bangles.
As we got our first round of cocktails, we spotted Manu who joined us for a coke and told us about her trek, which included sleeping on the floor with fleas, washing in a waterfall and homestay Dads who like Rice Wine. But she had a good time.
Back to the hotel where the Responsible Adult spent a lot of time going over the menu. She got full marks for ordering my dinner but her deep fried pork looked awfully like crumbed chicken.
Anyway it’s all good fun especially the bit where we tried to explain that playing Christmas Carols in May is a bad idea.