Hội An, Vietnam: Surprise!


The Bunk Bed Bus

Have you ever walked into your home, have all of your friends jump out, yell “Surprise!” and be totally caught off-guard? That’s how I felt when I boarded the bus from Hue to Hội An, Vietnam. No, it wasn’t my birthday and unfortunately there was no party, but I was totally caught off-guard.

First, when I boarded the bus, the driver pointed at my feet and presented me with a green plastic bag. Ok, no shoes. Got it. A little weird on a bus, but if no one else is tracking dirt, muck, and dog poop in on the floor, I’m OK with that.

A different kind of double decker bus

A different kind of double-decker bus

Second, there were three columns of seats down the length of the bus, and two layers. Yes, the seats were stacked one above the other. The upper chairs were accessed by climbing cute, little ladders. And, when I say “chairs,” I mean something like reclined pool loungers. For someone my size, they were actually pretty comfortable, but when the 6-plus-footers and 200-plus-pounders occupied one, it didn’t look so comfortable. Fortunately, none of us met either of those dimensions, and it was only a three-hour ride.


Stuck in the Sticks

We arrived in Hội An as the sun was approaching the horizon, and by the time we got a taxi and checked into the Beautiful Moon Guesthouse, it was dark. The accommodations were over-the-top nice for the price, but the people who recommended it failed to mention how far out of town it was. Walking around looking for food was out of the question, so we settled for phở delivered by scooter for dinner.

The prey

The prey

Must-buy Bespoke Clothing (That’s a Command)

The next morning we went into the historic, riverside community of Hội An. Other travelers had told us it was one of their very favorite places in Vietnam. Facebook friends said how much they liked it, and even the Lonely Planet sang its praises. I’d skip it. Harsh, huh? Maybe it’s just not my thing or maybe we wound up in the wrong part, though that’s unlikely according to our map and the Lonely Planet.

We were hounded by ticket sellers and merchants like a scoop of ice cream on the hot pavement by strays.

“Do you want custom clothes today?”

“No, thank you.”


Special suit for you, sir!

Special suit for you, sir!

Ticket Tantrum

“Hello, hello, hello! Buy ticket here!”

“What are the tickets for?”

“Entry into five historic buildings or museums.”

“We just want to walk around, and not go into the museums.”


So, we’ll call it a draw. The ticket sellers won, but we didn’t need to stuff new clothes into our already full suitcases.

Old furniture, no idea whose butts occupied them

Old furniture, no idea whose butts occupied them

Since we bought the tickets, we decided to visit some of the attractions. We walked into one of the old houses and were relieved of one of our tickets — only four to go. It was a small exhibit of old furniture, portraits, and decorations. The signs weren’t in English, so we didn’t know at what we were looking. At least we were out of the relentless sun.


Gift shop stuff

Two of the other ticket-to-enter places started with a young woman disgorging a script she memorized as she quickly marched us by the interesting stuff and into the gift shop. In both cases when it became obvious we didn’t want to buy anything, the woman became noticeably angry. I paid for this? What fun.

...and some pho king stuff

…and more phở king gift shop stuff

Maybe it was the phase of the moon. Maybe it was me, but my favorite part was knowing that the host at our guesthouse would have beers on ice waiting for us when we returned.

Hike Drink Live Laugh

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