|and by day|
After our aforementioned dream train trip, we arrived to our beauteous guest house on the coast near Hoi An. That sentence hides how frustrating the experience was, given we had potentially the world's most incompetent taxi driver (bless him), but the end result is what I've chosen to focus on here. Hoi An. It's one of those towns that backpackers swarm to, it's on every Vietnam itinerary (along with Halong bay) and it's recently been the centre of controversy, as the local council has begun charging people entry into the old quarter (this happened the week after Elizabeth and I visited, so our timing was charmed).
Some people are put off by 'over touristed' places, and I do understand that. I've certainly gone through phases like that and I've enjoyed places in a particularly special way because I was the only guest there. I know how my own loneliness seems to magnify when I'm surrounded by other tourists who look like me, come from the same country, or type of country, as me - and who I have next to nothing in common in. However, the old 'sometimes something is a cliché because it's so good' theory applies very strongly to Hoi An. Yes, there are tourists. Yes, you might get ripped off. But you'll also be wandering around the streets pictured above, you'll be eating some of the most famous Vietnamese cuisine and you'll be surrounded by products you want to buy (anti-consumerist tendencies notwithstanding); tailored clothing, handmade leather bags and straw hats to name a few.
|with my new straw hat|
|oh, a whole street of them|
|background and foreground = super beautiful|
That's all good and well. You've read one of the many write ups on the special 'Disneyland' magic and ease of Hoi An. Hell, you've probably been to Hoi An. Where you almost definitely haven't been is Ha My TT Guesthouse. Ha My TT Guesthouse is a singular place I will remember, and hopefully return to, for the remainder of my days. Hien, the host, is a jocular Vietnamese man who speaks fluent French and almost no English. He lived in France for ten years and has awfully gallic mannerisms and style. Or maybe he's seen a few Wes Anderson films.
The ocean is wild and large, and the sand isn't white. Fishermen go out in the morning in these dinky little boats shaped like a spherical bowl; they tip quite dramatically side to side in the waves, but always seem to find their equilibrium. During the hot part of the day the workers rest and the boats are left on the sand, upside down, drying out.
|looking back at Ha My TT|
On the final morning, Hien played his usual game of solitaire and took the only picture Elizabeth and I have of us both together. We took a taxi to Danang airport, where Elizabeth had a flight at 9:15am to Ho Chi Minh City (en route to Bangkok, London, Glasgow) and I had a flight, also at 9:15am, back home to Hanoi. We drank some Vietnamese coffee, with condensed milk, and hugged very fast before Elizabeth darted off to her gate (almost late).