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danang and hoi an

Posted in danang, hoi an, vietnam by moonwire on October 24, 2009

On Monday morning we took the train from Hue to Danang, about a 2.5 hour train ride. The ride itself was surprisingly comfortable. Definitely not a repeat of the Yogyakarta-Jakarta ‘bisnis’ express. Nobody sleeping in the isles, no people constantly begging and selling stuff and no transvestites with tambourines.

We checked into the ‘Golden Gate Hotel’, which was the cheesiest place ever. It actually had a structure on the rooftop resembling the Golden Gate. The room itself was pretty basic but it had an added lovely touch: a Christmas decoration above the bed. It was cheap and cheerful, for sure.

We got some lunch at ‘Bread for Life’, a restaurant which employs mostly deaf people. It was interesting to see the sign language and we learnt a few words ourselves. Also, something I didn’t know, is that sign language, though there are similarities, is not universal. The staff was lovely, the food was great and it was just a really nice place to relax and hang out.

In the afternoon we walked to China Beach and it was fantastic. Quite a beautiful beach with a lot of chatty local people. We talked with a bunch of curious giggly students who barely spoke English, but yet it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I had caught yet another cold (the third one in a bit over a month) and I was exhausted and felt crappy in general, so at night we hung out in our Christmas room watching sappy movies.

We were so presently surprised by Danang, that we decided to stay an extra night. The next day we basically did the same thing. We had brekkie, then walked to China Beach again. The weather was significantly different from Hue. It was hot, humid and when we got to the beach, the sun also emerged. It was nice walking on the beach, but it was hard to cool off. The water was hot, the sand was hot, the ‘breeze’ was hot. There was no escape from it. Though it was nice to feel a bit of heat again after chilly Hanoi and Hue.

When we got back to the room, we took a shower and a nap and at night we were ready for some good food. Though we love the food here in Vietnam, it doesn’t fully agree with us all the time. Eating on the street just didn’t look so appealing. We had found a lovely Vietnamese restaurant from the guide book and decided to have dinner there. Well, when we got there, it turned out it had been torn down. We then decided to hang out with the locals but when we got to the restaurant, the waitress only yelled one thing which we didn’t understand. Then when we wanted to make clear we wanted to eat and drink she shook  her head.  So we left, back to the Bread of Life across the street, while we watched other people actually eating at the place we were told ‘no’. Bizarre, but in a funny way.

After our late lunch, we went to the Bamboo Bar for a few excellent beers called ‘Biere Larue’. We had fun just watching life go by in Danang. There isn’t all that much to see and do there, but the people were wonderful. We got constant hellos and waves, flirtatious men, too. It was lovely not to be bothered by people trying to sell you things constantly, though there was one cyclo driver who was not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. We have nightmares of him showing up in other places to terrorize us.

Two days in Danang was enough, so on  Wednesday morning we took a taxi to Hoi An, about 30 kms south of Danang. We both thad he same feeling about the place from reading about it. When we got there, it actually looked really nice. Hoi An is a UNESCO world heritage site as well (like Hue and Luang Prabang). The architecture looked worn, but lovely, and we saw lots of nice looking cafes and restaurants in old colonial buildings. Not too bad.

Sure it wasn’t, but the constant hassling was bad. You cannot take two steps without hearing ‘buy something pleeeaaase!’, ‘come into my ‘sop’, have a looook’, ‘where are you going? motorbike? cyclo?’ Totally not relaxed. After we had rice and tofu for lunch, we walked around town and it was just a tourist theme park with a lot of hassling. Such a shame, really. I understand that without the tourists, the town probably would not have been preserved and the lovely restaurants definitely wouldn’t be there, but the place is a caricature. However, at night we had some of the best Indian food ever, followed by some more Biere Larues at the Treats Cafe. It was a really nice, mellow night, quite the opposite from what Hoi An is like during the day.

The second day in Hoi An, we didn’t do much. We ate and drank, walked around for a bit and mostly just relaxed. I hardly took any photos there as it didn’t inspire me at all. Despite the tourist trap factor, we had a good time in Hoi An but it’s definitely not a place I’ll ever want to return to. Next: Nha Trang.

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