We can pick 'em
We'd been in Vietnam two and a half months, almost two of them in Quang Ngai, still in our room in the university guesthouse, so we'd been thinking we'd do a weekend getaway to somewhere nice. We decided on Hoi An, the nearest tourist destination and a lovely UNESCO listed world heritage site, about 100 km or two and a half hours drive away. Quang Ngai isn't on the tourist route so it's not that easy to get in and out of. The buses were infrequent and not recommended by the locals. The train to Danang, then a half hour taxi ride the rest of the way was one option, but too time consuming for just a weekend visit, so we ended up hiring a car and driver to take us, leaving at the crack of dawn Saturday and returning Sunday afternoon.
However, as the weekend drew nearer the weather forecasts warned of another tropical storm heading for Vietnam. It was due to cross the coast further north, so just lots of rain for us. We wondered about canceling, but having set the wheels in motion we decided to go ahead with it - just lazing around in a nice hotel would be appealing enough. It rained solidly all day and night Friday in Quang Ngai. We stood at the gate in the steady rain for twenty minutes on Saturday morning. (Either the driver was twenty minutes late or perhaps the departure time was lost in translation and he was actually ten minutes early). It rained all the way there.
We checked into the hotel just after 9am and were greeted by very friendly staff who were keen to chat and quizzed us about where we were from and what we were doing in Vietnam. They twigged we must have left Quang Ngai very early and asked if we'd left without eating, then offered us a free breakfast in the hotel cafe! The room was lovely and dotted with flowers everywhere. I took a photo of the bed, but in the bathroom the toilet seat, tooth cup, face washers, bath mat and shower curtain also had flowers scattered over or tucked into them. There was a small pool in the tiny courtyard which looked appealing, even if the people in the ground floor rooms could have jumped out their windows straight into the water. Things were looking up.
We then had a great weekend strolling round the old town where there are lots of lovely old buildings, museums, shops and galleries and amazing eateries to chose from. Saw many more Western foreigners than we'd seen in a while. It rained all day Saturday, and by the time we were heading back to the hotel in the evening, the river had risen and the street along the riverfront was ankle deep in water. Sunday was mainly fine and things dried out a bit. I managed to do a bit of shopping though avoided the tailors and shoemakers for which Hoi An is famous. Perhaps next time. At least for now I have some more respectable "blouses" to wear around Quang Ngai.
I was a bit dismayed to learn that Sunday night was the full moon and we would miss the monthly festival taking place that night. On the 14th night of every lunar month the locals honour their ancestors with offerings and incense, the old quarter is pedestrianized, the streets are lit by lanterns and street performances, poetry recitals and chess games take place. Perhaps another time we will try and pick a weekend when the weather is fine and it is a full moon.