...that turned out to be the question
03.02.2012 - 03.02.2012 20 °C
Mr Vu from Stop & Go Travel picked us up before 9am today to drive to Hoi An and back... or so we thought. Leaden skies and patchy light rain all day was no problem, comfy car and swift if silent driver. City soon gave way to rice paddies, mountains swathed in cloud and river then seaside shores.
Then came Hai Van Pass: 7-10% gradient hairpin bends up and down the forest mountainsides, covered in cloud and chock full of coaches, trucks and hordes of scooters. Warning signs exclaiming "go slow" or showing pictograms of cars falling over cliffs mean nothing: normal Vietnamese road rules apply, beep and overtake (or vice versa as you see fit). Stop for a photo on the crest of a blind corner? Not for us, thanks all the same, but must have seemed like a good idea to many a motorcyclist seen teetering on the roadside fence while a mate points the camera. Stunning views from inside the relative safety of the car, though, and we emerged unscathed.
Da Nang was an interesting mix of old buildings, open shoreline and huge new resorts, many still under construction.
Hoi An was a charming if tourist-oriented town, full of open streets strung with colourful silk lanterns and wall-to-wall clothing shops. It was also where we discovered that our 'tour' was scheduled to end there and our driver had no intention of returning us to Hue. After a bit of discussion he arranged a one hour cyclo tour for us, which was very good: saw some Chinese and Japanese landmarks plus a silk workshop with amazingly fine embroidery. After a bit more discussion with his boss over the 'phone, problem was solved and we were driven back to Hue - this time via a tunnel built by a Vietnam-Japan collaboration.
Straight back out of the hotel for dinner, back at 'the grill place' around the corner. Armed with notes taken from another restaurant's bilingual menu, we confidently ordered the same grilled meats as last time... and got stirfried vegetables. Still delicious! Then Plane Boy had a brainwave and retrieved the receipt from our previous visit, whereupon we ordered what we'd meant to. Our waitress also 'recommended' (insisted?) we order chips as well. Sure enough, the delectable grilled pork and beef dishes appeared once more, as scrumptious as last time. Festival beer was on special so we had a few cans of that, too... probably (hard to tell, really, as it was pretty much like making love in a canoe).
That's it for today!