Just as Bernie and I mastered the crazy streets of Hanoi and were able to part motorbikes, scotters, buses and cars alike with a somewhat Moses like performance it was time to leave.
After Halong Bay we took a bus ride down the coast to Hue (bit boriong so won;t say much about it) and then to the very funky town of Hoi An.
The bus trip itself was meant to be an overnight tourist sleeper bus taking about 9 hours (so they said) but as we are finding with most things in Vietnam - this was broken and we had to take the local daytime bus which took 18 hours. The general jist was to lie out in a coffin like dead-flat bed with our head about 4 inches ffrom the ceiling. The drver then randomly and with no apparent cause or warning would switch on the 65218 mega watt flourescent lights which were millimeters from our heads - even when fast asleep our mere human eyelids were no match for such volumes of power. To increase our travel comfort the locals played really really cheesey polyphonic ringtone sort of music through the crappy, tinny-sounding speakers of thier mobile phones for the whole journey.... and the cherry on the cake was the coach suspension and road conditions... final spin cycle of the washing machine springs to mind... and in the name of all that is holy... all of this FOR EIGHTEEN BLOODY HOURS !!!!
Landing in Hoi An was a real tonic and we have been blasting around the beautiful old french influenced architecture and the white prestine beaches on our single geared girl's bikes with front basket. The weather has been fine every day for the last 5 or 6 days with temperatures topping 38 during the day and beers dropping below minus 2 in the afternoons.
Vietnam is seemingly getting better the further South we get so good-times look like being plentiful ahead.
Please let me know if anyone whould like a straw hat or a mangey stray dog - both are in abundance.
Lots of love and other stuff to all of you
Stuart and Bernie