The alarms we had set woke us at 7 am and we were soon down into breakfast. There had been a thunderstorm in the night but Sue had slept soundly through it, I heard around 4 of the concussions but then dropped off back to sleep. The streets outside looked damp from our bedroom window, but the sun was up and they would soon clear. Unlike previously, the breakfast room only had a few guests eating and they appeared to be from Fiji. The Reception of the sister hotel however was full of clamouring French that were departing somewhere, hopefully onto some whale watching Greenpeace ship.
Stocked up with calories we set off on our planned route to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. Our route was pretty straightforward, but somehow with all the suicidal chicken runs across the numerous junctions blocking our progress, we managed to find the Literacy Museum instead.
As we paid for our tickets we opted to hire a guide to instruct us around the site. She was a very nice lady, dressed in traditional garb and informed us that she had visited London and Birmingham last year while on a lecture tour. Despite this, we had no problems understanding her. The Museum is dedicated to Confucius and his teaching, and it is because of this that all teachers in Vietnam are revered. It was at this point we told her we were teachers. She was suitable in awe. Nice. Luckily for us, it was the end of the term for the schools and the complex was full of colourfully dressed children and older students who were graduating. There were many groups clustered around having their photos taken, all smiling broadly and shouting their Hello’s to us when we were spotted.
Our guide took around an hour to explain all the exhibits and the meaning of all the artefacts, and it was genuinely interesting. After she left us we did the usual school trip ‘thing’ and went into the museum shop. We did buy a few things there and of course, Sue haggled the price down from cheap to near starvation level for the family relying on its profits.
After a short trip around the Royal Lake on the opposite side of the road, we headed back to the hotel. The traffic had increased considerably from our outward journey and we had to be extra careful in staring down moped riders and gave the impression that any collision by an Eastern scooter on a Western torso was going to be curtains for the mechanical polluter.
Back at the hotel, we packed and I showered and then read a bit of the local English newspaper. Our pick-up for the airport was at 1 pm and we were in the Reception at 12.10 pm. The driver came at 12.45 pm and with luggage stowed in the boot we set off on the 40-minute journey to the airport.
As we were early for our 3.55 pm flight we sat in the restaurant and had a bit of lunch, then looked around the gift shops. The flight took off on time and lasted an hour. This time our baggage was first off the belt and as soon as we left the Arrivals Hall we were met by our driver. The journey to Hoi An took around 40 minutes starting first by driving through Da Nang and then taking the coast road until we reached our hotel the Boutique Hoi An Resort. I guess it is a middle-sized hotel that after checking in and being shown our room seemed quite acceptable for its 5 stars.
We didn’t unpack as the light was failing and we were eager to explore. A walk through the grounds towards the beach brought back memories of the Regent Cha’ am in Thailand for both of us. The little twinkling lights of the fishing boats on the horizon that would shine their neon lights onto the sea all night to attract their catch to the surface shone between the palm trees fringing the white sandy shore. We dipped our toes in the water before returning to the reception via the swimming pool that still had a few late swimmers ploughing up and down, I needn’t tell you their nationality. We checked out the bar and the very small tourist shop before continuing outside and over the road to scan the little businesses that always seem to hug the entrances to large Asian hotels. Again that reminded us of the village outside the grounds of the Regent and the little restaurants we used to frequent. We returned to the hotel.
Freshening up we decided to eat reminisce and eat in the village. We chose a restaurant that had a couple already dining in it. Always a good ploy as it often means that the food is ok or at the very worst you are not the only ones to suffer from food poisoning and thus the authorities are more likely to take notice. As always the owner was beckoning us even before we had crossed the road. By the time we had chosen and ordered our drinks and food, we had been joined by other tourists of a like mind.
While we were eating a street hawker descended on us with a basket of wares. She was very polite and quietly and methodically showed us all she had in her basket without fuss, and when we displayed disinterest in an item she put it away and tried another. I bought a little lacquered tooth-pick container from her for 2 pounds and as I said to Sue afterwards, it’s not because I wanted the holder it was because that small amount of money would make a big difference to her evening. The meal of fresh pineapple juice, two draft beers, a dish of sweet and sour shrimp, two bowls of rice, a bowl of french fries and a dish of chicken and lemongrass came to 12 pounds. Very little to affluent Europeans but I can’t imagine how important such a small amount is to the lives of these Vietnamese. They are a very polite, gentle race that history has shown are not to be meddled with beyond reason.
After our meal, we returned to the hotel and pressed some new pillows.