26/10/2013 - 29/10/2013
Hoi An was my favourite place we visited in Vietnam. It's very touristy but still incredibly nice.
We stayed at Hoang Trinh Hotel and they arranged a free pickup for us from the bus station. Yet again the staff were lovely and the service was good. We were given a few free plates of fruit while we were there. Our room was incredibly nice, with lots of thoughtful little touches. On arrival our bed looked like this:
Breakfast was included and decent, though not as nice as at our previous hotel. Again you could select as many things as you wanted, plus you were given quite a few random things (most of which we didn't want and just took up table space). The food was a bit greasier, plus the pancakes were deep-fried. They were nice, but still, a little greasy. I didn't like the coffee, there was no option of tea, so I had the orange juice most mornings, though that wasn't great either. Still, overall it wasn't bad and the hotel itself was lovely.
Tyneil and Daniel, who we'd met on our Ha Long Bay trip, were also in Hoi An, so we met up with them for dinner. We went to a vegetarian restaurant, which was the number 1 rated food place on TripAdvisor. We were sat at a table right next to 2 British couples, so we chatted to them a bit as well. The food was good and really cheap, plus a glass of beer was about 30p!
Afterwards the 4 of us went to a nearby pub called Moe's Tavern. It wasn't as good as you'd hope a Simpsons inspired place would be, but it was still a fun night of drinking and playing Giant Jenga. A lot of drinks were 2 for 1, plus we all got a free rum and coke on arrival, so we had quite a few drinks for not much money. There was also a free pool table, so we made use of that.
Hoi An's a fairly small place, but nice to walk around, particularly in the old area where you don't get all the traffic. The area by the river gets lit up in the evenings too. There are also a few temples and such like strewn around, so we checked out some of those, walked around, stopped for drinks and had a nice chilled out time. There was a really nice tea house that we went to a couple of times - Reaching Out. It was set up to help people with disabilities and is mostly staffed by deaf mutes. Everything's done silently - you order by paper and pencil, the waitresses mime how things work and you can hold up word blocks to convey common expressions like 'thank you'. It gives the place a nice ambience, plus the staff will offer to take a couple of photos for you as well. We ended up going there a couple of times.
There was only one place we went for dinner though. Yes, we went back to that veggie place every day. It was so cheap and the menu was so varied that it just seemed like the best option. On our third night there we'd arranged to meet up with Daniel and Tyneil again. We got sat at the same table, which wasn't hugely strange (it was quite a small place), but we had to laugh when the same 4 Brits arrived and got seated next to us again.
From Hoi An we went on to Nha Trang. Again we needed to choose between train and bus. Train would still have involved having to get to Da Nang first, which would have meant going back on ourselves a bit. However, that initially seemed preferable as it was quite a long journey so we were going to go overnight. But then we discovered there were overnight buses that had bed-like seats on them, so it wouldn't be like trying to sleep on a regular bus. That swayed things in the bus' favour. So despite our general dislike of night buses, we took one from Hoi An to Nha Trang.
If we'd actually gotten the bus we booked, it might have been an alright journey, but we got to the Sinh Tourist office and were told our bus was broken and they were therefore putting us on another company's bus. We were taken to the bus station by taxi and then quickly ushered on to this other company's bus, which was due to leave. The guy from Sinh Tourist told us to sit wherever was free, but the guy on the bus had other ideas. He made us all sit at the very back. The general layout of the bus meant that the seats/beds were all separated, so you had your own private space, with 3 beds across the width of the bus. The only exception to this was the back of the bus - there you had 5 seats/beds all next to each other, just like one big bed. Our seat bookings meant nothing as it was a different bus. At least Jamie and I got to be next to each other though - one couple got split up - the girl was next to me in the central bed on the bottom row and her husband was on the row above. It wouldn't have been so bad if they'd been the only available seats, but there were plenty of other ones near the front of the bus that stayed unused for the whole journey. The girl's husband tried to move to one after a while, as he said it was really cold on the upper level, but he got told off and sent back. It was ridiculous. We re-vowed to never take an overnight bus again.