Buddhas and Busses: From Nha Trang to Hoi An
It has taken me longer to blog about this trip to Vietnam than it did to take it. But now that I’ve started, I feel a compulsion to go all the way to the end.
I last left off when we were en route to Nha Trang.
On Google images, Nha Trang looks like this:
But when we got there it looked more like this:
Gone were the all-too-brief days of lounging in the Southern sun and back were the cool, breezy days of – OK, who am I kidding? It was still a beach town in Vietnam, and it was still over 20 degrees Celsius in January. Maybe it was a little overcast, but it made for a decent stopover.
We were only in Nha Trang for one night, and were due to take a night bus to Hoi An the following evening. Taking overnight transport gives the day a real sense of limbo. It’s never possible to fully enjoy yourself. I always feel homeless, since we don’t even have a hotel room to retire to. You really have to figure out what to do with every second of your day, which stretches out before you like an endless vortex.
To kill some time, we decided to walk from the Pho Bien Hostel to the giant buddha statue.
If you are ever in Nha Trang, don’t do this. Take a motorbike. Or a taxi. The walk is only about a mile, but it is fairly unpleasant. There are plenty of white-knuckle street crossings and roundabouts. The sidewalks are sporadic. It got hot.
The buddha’s nice, though.
After the buddha escapade, we still had about six hours to kill. Luckily, we found Guava, a bar/lounge that was pretty much too trendy for its own good. That meant that they could charge 35,000 dong for a Saigon green label – extortionate! And they didn’t even carry regular Saigon! Who did they think they were?
Then I realized that beers were still less than $1.75 and we could play free pool and Jenga all afternoon. So that’s what we did. After a few hours, we moved to Guava’s sister location, also called Guava. The main difference is that this Guava showed a free movie in English at 3PM daily.
The movie of the day was The Town, a crime thriller starring Ben Affleck as a loveable bank robber. I’ll let you make your own judgement on how good it was. We watched it with four other English speakers who were also waiting for a night bus.
Six o’clock slowly crept around, and we boarded our night’s accommodation. It was literally like the Knight Bus from Harry Potter, except it was yellow instead of purple. And no one could do magic, so our bunks were pretty cramped. It looked like a regular double-decker bus from the outside, but inside were nearly 30 sleeping travelers and locals, all headed for Hoi An.
In the end, I didn’t need a magic wand – all I needed to lull me to sleep was the gentle screeching of the brakes and erratic lurching of the bus, all accompanied by the regular blast of the horn. When I woke at 6:30 the next morning, my only discomfort was black gunk in my nose from the invisible internal exhaust fumes.
We had arrived in Hoi An – Tailor Central, where your dream wardrobe waits to meet you.