The bus went through Hue before stopping for lunch at a beautiful hotel and restaurant with a stunning coastline view at the back. I had an utterly delicious beef fried rice with fresh veg at a stupidly reasonable 30,000d before re-boarding for the last leg.
Through Da Nang where the confused ticketmaster made me disembark to get a bike, before the girl in the bookings office chased after the bus and got me back on it with instructions to the driver to let me off at Marble Mountain.
Within 15 minutes, the bus pulled off the main road. Due to roadworks, it has to take a diversion at the moment, so I had to walk a whole extra 200m or so. This was the diversion which the driver had originally reckoned made it impossible for me to get the bus to Mr Hoa’s.
Less than five minutes after being dropped off, I was walking down the lane to Hoa’s Place with a young Vietnamese girl (probably one of Mr Hoa’s many daughters!) telling me all about the Marble Mountain and how the Vietnamese had hidden there during the war while the Americans bombed it.
We arrived at Hoa’s Place to have a wonderfully warm smile beamed at my by a Vietnamese gentleman saying “You Iain?”. I shook hands with Mr Hoa, a man of great warmth and many talents. He’s the only Vietnamese I have met who can say “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya” and actually sound Irish.
OK, hardly warranting a spot on TV but I was impressed.
I dropped my stuff in my room (fan only – I’m saving cash so opted for non-aircon) and went for a quick walk up and down the beach.
The water is so clear that even at about 5 feet in depth, you can see your feet perfectly. I’d reckon you could easily double that if you were tall enough. The sand is clean of all debris save a handful of broken shells, and is the finest golden sand I think I have ever seen in my life. Hills lie to the north and south, and a fishing boat is moored a couple of hundred metres offshore.
There are very few people out and about, though I got accosted by a couple of children asking the usual questions about where I’m from and responding to my answer of “England” with “Lubbly jubbly”. Funnily, I’ve not heard this since I was in Thailand! Kids there must watch too much TV as well. I really should re-teach them all to say “Howay, man Oz”, “Don’t mention the war” or something instead.
Later in the afternoon I ventured back out, and this time there were several groups of kids playing football and volleyball. I got roped into a short game of volleyball in the sea whilst I was splashing around enjoying the scenery.
After showering, I sat and read until dinner was served. For 50,000d the Hoa’s serve up quite a generous platter, though I could have eaten more. Given that I only had one meal today, though, that’s to be expected. The beer here is cheap (though I’m avoiding it due to financial ARGH) and the breakfasts and lunches are also very reasonable. No need to shop around for food, then!
As we were settling down to eat, some sound-checking started up in a compound across the street. Apparently this had started at 5am or thereabouts. Nobody seems to know exactly what it is, though the grounds themselves are a police training academy or something similar.
After some blaring music, we were treated to a goon shouting “mawt, mawt-hai, mawt-hai-ba”. Yes, folks, it’s the same the world over: “One. One-two. One-two-three”. I always thought they used “two” because of the hard “t” sound at the start. Or maybe soundcheckers just like sounding like they’re spitting down a microphone.
Not long after dinner finished, I made my excuses and headed for my room. After a 5:30am wake-up on Wednesday, and sleeping on a coach overnight after that I was drained. Just enough stamina to write this up and then zzzzz.