I finally managed to drag myself away from the designer swimming pool in Mei Nu and was undecided where to go next. Would it be the beaches at Nga Trang, the cultural quarter that is Hoi An or the former war zone of Hue. Since I'd spent the last 5 days quite literally on my lying on my back doing nothing I thought that a little culture was in order so Hoi An it was.
Little did I know when making this decision that I would spend the next 17 hours on a bus, yes that's right 17 hours! These who know me well or even just know me a little know that I don't have the best of experiences on buses. There was that time when the bus driver asked me out and then followed me home, or when my new M&S Bridget Jones knickers went flying when the bus was full of old firm fans (at least they were clean) or even when the old man tried to punch me because I was biting my nails. Thankfully this bus was no 75 and all I had to contend with was the thundering horn and stops at the side of the road every 15 minutes to pick someone up / drop them off.
The bus finally reached Hoi An at 6am and the only thing I could think about was getting some sleep. I checked into a Lonely Planet recommended hotel - it was rank! Think of a big cupboard painted white with cable TV. It was also beside the public toilet and the smell was enough to put you off your food for a week. It also had a huge spider which I bravely chased away - go me!
Thankfully I didn't spend too much time in the cupboard, I went exploring the town. At first glance I was cursing the 17 hours on the bus but when I decided to stop being so miserable I realised that in fact it is charming. It's a world heritage site and rightly so. There is a river that runs through the middle of the town and on either side there are gorgeous little shops, cafes and art galleries. The woodwork and painting were amazing, in any other city in any other country they would have been at least 10 times the amount they were selling for here. At times like this I really wished that I had money, I would have down some serious damage - all in the name of supporting the local economy of course.
The other thing Hoi An is famous for is their tailors. It seems like every second shop is a tailor and the clothes are out of this world. In each shop I saw at least 5 things that I wanted. Trust me it would be worth coming to Hoi An just for a new wardrobe. In fact when I met that millionaire, that's exactly what I'll do. Of course I would have been criminal to spend 17 hours on a bus and not buy anything so I just had to invest in a new pair of shoes which were made just for me all for the very handsome sum of $6. Well a girl can never have too many shoes even if her backpack does weigh close to 30kgs.
I also went on a trip to the Cham Ruins which is really the only thing to do in Hoi An if you are not buying art or having something made for you. The ruins were rather underwhelming but then everything would after you have seen Angkor Wat. I met a new friend on the tour, Gaberal from Spain, which made the tour a little more bearable.
It's back to Saigon after Hoi An to catch a flight to Singapore. 26.5 hours on a bus but this time I was prepared. Do you know sleeping pills in Vietnam cost less than baby wipes............