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November 1st, 2000 · No Comments

Hanoi to Hue via Vietnam Airlines

Day 306

No sooner did I walk away from the Airlines counter did a gentleman approach me. He asked it I was going to Hue, of course he already knew that since I just gave them my baggage while standing under the Destination Hue sign. He then introduced himself, saying he used to me a receptionist (he showed me his name badge) at the Thai Binh Hotel in Hue. He wanted me to look at some pictures of his hotel, because he would like me to stay there. He also quickly mentioned the fact that the hotel would send a car to the airport and pick us up, there would be no obligation to stay if we didn’t like the room after we saw it.

Something about his manners and the way he approached me in a business like manner, made me listen to him. I decided to say OK and take the risk. Heck, we can always walk away if it’s not a good deal.

Thai Binh Hotel welcome signWhen we deplaned in Hue (pronounced Way) the first thing we saw was a sign with both our names on it. These people have their stuff together! We boarded the van with a group of others and set off for the 1/2 hour ride to the city center. So far the plan was working!

We pulled up to the hotel and it actually looked like the picture the man had showed me. The rooms were very clean and actually priced at the prices I had been quoted. We decided to stay there.

This whole experience was so very pleasant and eye opening. These people are willing to go so far to get your business. This guy was stationed at the Hanoi airport just waiting for people to check into their flights. He successfully was filling that hotel from 680 kilometers away!

Sarah in cyclocabWe dropped all our junk in a room and set out to take in the sights. On the street we were immediately. approached by a cyclocab driver. His English was better than most, his offer seemed like a good idea. I wasn’t in the mood to walk far so we negotiated on the price and both of us hopped in our own cyclocab. It was time to let others do the peddling for us.

Watching the city go by at this pace was so relaxing. Just like cycling only much slower, we were in “the flow” of the traffic. I had time to take photos and study things more closely. It was very relaxing. My driver did not speak English, so we didn’t talk. For me at that moment I enjoyed the silence.

Sarah in the other cyclocab, had the driver who was trying to practice his English. He kept saying to her, “kiss me, kiss me.” Sarah finally determined after a few uncomfortable moments, “kiss me” is “excuse me” or at least the way the Vietnamese end up saying it.

Our drivers gently peddled us around the city, stopping at points of interest. Hue was the Imperial Capital of Viet Nam. It is full of ancient sites, the Citadel and Imperial Tombs, but we were so tired we didn’t want to get out after the first couple of stops. I think we disappointed them by not jumping into every museum and tourist event. We just didn’t care to exert ourselves today!

A few hours later we were dropped off in front of our hotel. Mr. Dong was $5 richer and we poorer. Oh well, it was just another adventure for us.

Satisfied we saw enough of Hue, we boarded the “open bus” to Hoi An. The “open bus” is not a bus that has open windows or a double decker style. The “open” refers to the feature that it stops at various points along the way, letting people get off to sightsee.

The Open Bus was a cheap mode of transportation, designed probably for backpackers. We got on with enough other people to more than fill the bus. The people who sold the tickets forgot to make accommodations for the customers taking luggage, lots of luggage. The driver piled our bags in the rear seat of the bus, leaving no room for more. The last folks who go on the bus, had to sit on jump seats for the 4 hour ride to Hoi An.

It was not a comfortable ride. Roads in Viet Nam leave something to be desired. First of all the traffic using the road comes in all shapes, sizes and speeds. None of whom pay attention to the other, everyone just does what they need to do, without looking. It is a maze of humanity. Our bus driver being a direct descendant of the Chinese, drove by using the horn. He used the horn so much it almost made more impact when he didn’t use the horn! It drove me nuts!

I tried to cope at first, figuring I would get used to the noise, but it didn’t work. Finally I removed my hearing aids, put on my CD player and tried to mask the horn. It helped. At one point I considered placing a wooden block under his horn to prevent it from working. That, I decided would probably prevent the driver from actually being able to drive.

Guess I was just going to have to get used to it. Welcome to the third world!

We stopped at all the driver’s friends places for food and toilet break. At Marble Mountain he pulled onto a tourist street. All the riders on the bus revolted, and told him to just keep driving, we didn’t want to shop. The driver tried to get us to get out, but we all just sat there, in protest!

Woman running after the busOne of our stops was at the top of a mountain by the American Bunkers just north of Da Nang. It was hilarious to watch the women vendors come running toward our bus in a wild frenzy. They were racing to see who would get to sell us something. We all grabbed our cameras for a photo shot, laughing at the site. What a way to make a living!

The women greeted our bus in a friendly manner, offering to sell us cold drinks, peanuts, U.S. Silver dollars, Tiger Balm and all sorts of weird stuff. They pointed out the sites and accompanied us up the path to the bunker, trying to get us to succumb and purchase their products. They pleaded, “you help me, buy peanuts? Special peanuts, very good!” As always I was amazed to hear all the languages, or rather fragments of languages they knew. Our bus was multi-national but each women could converse with all the passengers.

They were very persistent, I felt obligated to at least buy something, so I did. We bargained for a bag of peanuts and I hopped back on the bus for some peace and quiet. Well it was peaceful until the driver started to drive.

Da Nang viewThe view of Da Nang on the horizon.

Tags: SE Asia · Vietnam