Day 36 - Travelling from Hanoi to Hoi An
Hoi An Travel Blog› entry 37 of 69 › view all entries
December 28th, 2007 – by: pauric_doherty
We had heard several people talking about Hoi An, a place about 40km south of Danang that was a small tourist town, beside the beach and again, can be used to go and visit the Marble Mountains, so we decided that we would fly to Danang, price the journey to go to Hoi An from ther and see if it suited us.
Our flight was to leave at 11:45 so we got our guesthouse to book a taxi to leave at 9am. The taxi was a fixed price though so that was a good thing ... fixed at 160,000 Dong ... a bit of a change to the 450,000 Dong that we paid to get from the airport to Hanoi when arriving here ..... but ... everyone has to get ripped off once in a while to become aware of con artists! So off we head in the taxi .. and about 2 minutes into the journey, it started to rain .... rain like you'd get in Ireland .... a heavy downpour! Anybody on motorbikes were pulling over and putting on waterproof capes (that were actually customised for motorbikes in that they went over the front of the bike and had a clear section for the bikes headlight. This way it kept the entire motorcyclist cocooned in this little tent!) and the traffic started to slow .
We weren't particularly bothered about the delay as we had left quite a lot of time to get to the airport before our flight but our taxi driver seemed to be worried!! If anybody has been to Vietnam you would probably have noticed that outside the normal lanes of traffic there is 1 more lane used for people walking, on bicycles and motorcyclists as well. It is about the width of a single car and has little concrete bollards along both edges of it to seperate it from the main lanes. Well .. after about 5 minuts of sitting in slow traffic our driver decided he was going to use that lane as a normal lane, and in we pull to it at a junction.
When we got into the airport we were just about 1 hour 45 minutes before departure time and there wasn't even a check in desk open for our flight. There were several very busy flights to Ho Chi Minh City leaving before us and because of the sheer volume of people they were using most of the check in desks! So we grabbed breakfast in the airport .... hamburgers ... not in the western sense .. but really ham in a burger .. along with some vegetables and corned beef as well!!
Once our check in gate opened we checked in and went to the hand baggage security point .. and this was when i noticed i still had my Swissarmy knife in my pocket .. and of course you cant carry them on to a flight ... only in checked in luggage .. so here i was for the second time in my life, at an airport security check in point, and i was about to loose the second knife (both of sentimental value to me) into a big bin of other prohibited items!!
Well we made it onto our flight .. penknife less... and we took off! Our flight experienced a littel turbulence as there was a lot of low lying cloud all over Vietnam. We again got served with another small snack on the flight, but this wasn't as nice as Lao airlines snacks .. we had a salami bap with water and a small pack of crackers. On landing in Danang airport we got off the plane and into the arrivals hall .. and it was literally a hall! Once you walked in the door you were right beside the baggage reclaim belts and leaving them you went through another door and outside!! No nice welcome to Dnaang desk or anything!
When we got outside we approached a taxi driver to enquire about the price to Hoi An ...250,000 kip ... we knew that this was quite reasonable as it was about the same distance as the Hanoi to Airport taxi before we left .. and those trips cost us 160,000 and 450,000 .. so we probably were getting ripped off a little but not too much! In the taxi another man got in as well .. he seemd to be a friend of the taxi drivers, also heading to Hoi An ... and he had quite good english so we started talking about Hoi An and what it was like. He told us that was a lovely little tourist spot, that was beside the beach and had lots of tourist activities to see and do. We had told him about our experience in Halong Bay for Christmas and he explained to us why it was so quiet. Seemingly many of the people in the north of Vietnam are buddhist so they don't really celebrate Christmas as a festival, and the fact that north Vietnam is quite cold, anyone that wanted to celebrate Christmas and New Year, would normally travel south to Hoi An or another beach further down! I so wish someone had wrtten that in some of the guide books or on the internet!!
Anyway when we arrived in Hoi An, the taxi driver asked us had we got accomodation booked ... we were a bit weary of telling him the truth as we thought we would end up stuck in a 'friends hotel' that could turn out to be a dump, but seeing as he was so helpful so far we decided to be truthful. He asked us what our budget was and we reckoned because it was New Years maybe about US$20 to US$25 for a room, so he said he would take us to a hotel in that price range. We pulled up at the first hotel and he was told that it was fully booked so he said he would take us to a different hotel .. well 3 hotels later (all fully booked) we were still driving around in the taxi, and when we got to another hotel .. they had a room... WAHOO! The taxi driver told us that he would wait for us to go in and check it out and see if it was to our liking.. so after looking at it .. and very nice it was we decided that yeah this was the one for us!! We paid and tipped the taxi man for the fabulous service and advice that he gave us and settled into our room. We later discovered the hotel had a swimming pool too.... now hopefully we got some weather for it!!
After settling in, we decided to head into town for a walk and to check out some of the sights! There were some lovely souvenir shops, and tailors and carvers and all sorts of handmade crafts in the town centre. We found a lovely restaurant where we got something to eat and took a walk further around town. Caroline had spotted a nice skirt in one of the shops so on our way home we decided to go back and look at them! Caroline thought the shop was a normal shop where you would go in and pick you size, try it on, pay for it and leave, but no ... it was a tailor ... so she went in and started talking to the lady about the skirt and price and all. I waited outside as I didn't think she was that serious about the skirt to actually buy it. When i saw her sitting down to look through the catalogue I knew she was serious! So .. the next thing the lady had invited me in to sit down and to look through a catalogue as well! Anyway to cut a long story short, after about 30 minutes, some measuring and picking of colours .... Caroline leaves having chosen 2 skirts to get tailor made ... and I leave having got measured up for 2 pairs of tailor made combats (one cords, one light material with zip off legs to turn them into shorts) and 2 shirts. It cost Caroline US$34 for the 2 skirts and for me, a person who didn't want anything, it cost me US$54 for the 4 garments! They weren't expensive seeing that they were custom made ... but I didn't really want anything .... now that was a good saleswoman!! The clothes were going to be ready at 1pm the following day ... yip .. about 16 hours later !!!
After spending what was a small Vietnamese fortune between us (about 880,000 Dong) we headed back to the hotel to head to bed. We were money less, but with an order for some tailored clothes .... a definite asset when your backpacking around the world .. lol !!
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