Yet another early rise to finish packing and grab some breakfast before our bus pulled up at 7:30. It was a fairly hefty not-quite-double-decker from the Sinh Cafe company who have a good reputation in Vietnam.
Instead of seats, each passenger gets a berth, either on the floor or up small ladders. There’s very little space to store baggage if the bus is full, so be prepared to put almost everything into the under-bus hold. The seats recline almost fully with legroom seemingly designed for someone around 5’6″ (1.67m) in height. Any taller and it can get a little crampy, especially in some of the berths which have little footwells. These will force your feet to the side unless you lie sideways for the journey, rather than on your back.
So if you’re first on the bus, I recommend getting right to the back of the bus (if you don’t mind being a little snuggly with your neighbour) or grab the one just further back than the loo as it has a tall footwell. Footwear isn’t allowed on board, and you get a little bag to keep your shoes in while you’re onboard. Overall, a pretty good way to travel.
The journey from Hoi An to HuÃ© took around 4 hours including a 30-minute toilet/food stop somewhere along the way. At the stopoff I met a young Vietnamese lad who was collecting foreign currency – notes in particular. As luck had it, I still had two Estonian notes in my wallet: a 2Kr and a 5Kr. I gave him the choic and he picked the 2Kr for his collection. The 5 Kr is mine, now!
As expected, our bus arrived in HuÃ© to be greeted by a thronging crowd of:
“Come see my hotel!”
“Ours is in Lonely Planet – number 49!”
“Ours is near the lake, very quiet.”
“Lake is noisy, ours is better.”
I pointed at one young lady and said, “She was the first, so we will look there first. If we don’t like it, we will try the next person. That’s fair.” Only to hear one other person grumble “No, not fair.” Dissenter.
Anyway, as it happened we did like the first place. A nice room, spacious, fridge, aircon, tons of English channels on the telly, right by the bus dropoff and $10 a night between us. The only thing missing was a hot water tank, so the shower waslukewarm but given the temperatures outside, that was hardly an issue.
We did the usual scattering of luggage and then went for a quick walk. First stop was to organise a lift to the airport for Monday morning. The hotel had suggested a taxi at $11, claiming that the bus would be too early and would cost the same for two tickets as one taxi. Hum. Lonely Planet gives the address of the Vietnam Airlines office for the minibus stop, but has it wrong or the stop has moved.
For reference, the bus leaves from the Vietnam Airlines office at number 20 D Hanoi (20 Hanoi Street). It’s a very short walk from the office listed in the current Lonely Planet. Cost is 40,000d (roughly $2.40) per person and they’ll even pick you up from your hotel for free beforehand. Definitely worth the quick stroll to their office.
We then headed over to the other side of the Perfume River, along past some shops and into KFC for a late lunch / early dinner. Then some quick shopping in the nearby supermarket and a gawp at the traditional Dong Ba market by the riverside – the usual smattering of regional vegetation and dead animals. And as bustling and entertaining as any market I’ve seen in Vietnam. I paid over the odds for a large green thing that looks like some kind of huge orange inside that I’ve been wanting to try for some time (turns out it’s a pomello). It’ll do for breakfast in the morning.
And that was really it for the day. The wi-fi at the hotel’s fine, but I can’t access my own web pages at all – everything else is fine but I can’t get any of my three blogs to download, or the web page of the company that’s hosting them. I’ve had several other people check and they’ve had no problems. Most annoying! But no worries as I could still type stuff up for upload later (2 weeks later in the case of this post…)