After our horrible train ride from Mui Ne we walked out of the train station in Da Nang and on to a local bus (pictured here) going 30 min south to Hoi An. When we entered the bus we paid 60,000 Dong per person ($3). After we paid, I told the lady she charged me wrong and we should pay less. She laughed, said no, and looked like of upset that I would even say such a thing. We watched other locals get on and pay 30,000 Dong. She claimed one girl paid less because she was a “baby”. The girl we are talking about looked to be about 20 years old. Later she claimed it was because we were tourists. However, all other buses in Vietnam charge the same amount for everyone. She was just ripping us off and pocketing the money so of course we got mad. To make a long story short, I took photos of her ugly face (Here) and told her I was going upload them on the internet, find her boss and that I was going to call the police. I started asking people with phones to call the police and she instantly started giving money back. A Korean guy saw us getting half our money back so he jumped in and got his too. This is what annoys me about Vietnamese people. No, its not all of them, just most of them. It’s not about the money, in fact I wish I would have burned the money right in front of her just to prove a point.. it was only a $1.50 difference.
Hotels in Hoi An are very cheap. For $20 we had a jacuzzi, mini fridge and a clean room. After a day we switched hotels and for $18 a night we had a much bigger room with two queen beds and a balcony. At that price I was not expecting much but I got a lot more than I paid for. The only bad thing about hotels here is the staff will try to sell you everything. As soon as I got my key they were trying to sell me taxis to visit places around the town, tailors, jewelers and more. I get defensive when people do this to me and I will gladly spend more money elsewhere just so they don’t make anything… just because they harassed me too much.
On the night of a full moon in Hoi An, businesses shut off all their lights except red ones. Small red globe like lamps with Asian designs shine in the street making the entire place look like an Asian Amsterdam red light district. Kids and old women sell small paper containers with a candle in them. You light the candle and set the paper container assail in the small river that runs through the town and out to the ocean. Hundreds of these things are let go floating down river throughout the night. It’s a beautiful sight and while watching it you can only think, this is the real Asia. But why do they do this? For good luck. That seems to be the common theme to any strange thing Asians do. If they are burning trash in the street with flowers and incense or placing small handy crafts made from bamboo, flowers and rice on their motor bikes… it’s for good luck. A lot of it comes from Buddhism however most people in Vietnam are atheists but are very superficial.
Hoi An is filled with stores for dresses, suits, and coats. You can get anything custom tailored here and that is exactly what Francisca did. For $30 she picked out her colors and design. The very next day they had her dress just like she wanted and it was perfect. A few adjustments later and it was all done. North Face coats are made in Vietnam too, so of course you can find them cheaper here. However, you have to be careful because 80% of them are cheap knock offs. The main ways to tell: Open the jacket and look at the lining, does it match? Sometimes they will use cheap green or purple fabric. I found one with leopard on the inside. North Face does not do this. Look at the logo, sometimes each letter will have a line of thread connecting them all. That screams cheap because it looks like shit and is bad quality. The most effective way is to simply touch and feel it. Most of the fakes have a very thin cheap quality feel to them. When you touch a real one, you will instantly know the difference. The real ones will cost about $60, never $25 like you can find. The real ones have a small defect and were fixed. If you look it over, you will never be able to find it. Fixing a small area is not a hard job so it can be done easily and in a quality way.
The town of Hoi An is the main thing to see but there are some nice things around it also. Marble Mountain is a cliff made of marble stone. On top are a few pagodas, small caves, and nice views. It is only a 30 min motor bike ride away and 75 cents to get in. Although it is not the coolest thing I have ever seen, it is a must do if you are in Hoi An. As I entered, people tried to sell me giant lions and Buddhas made out of marble. What the hell do they think I am going to do with that? Put it in my backpack and travel around with it. If even I did want it really badly, it would cost be about $1500 to ship it home. Then everyone on my block would just make fun of me.
On the edges of town are small rice paddies and a nice beach lined with palm trees. Too bad the weather was not good enough to go out on the beach. It is only supposed to get colder as we go north up to Hanoi. We are skipping Hue due to lack of interest. I will probably regret it later but you can’t go everywhere. Hue is where the DMZ was during the Vietnam war. A peace bridge was created there and you can take some tours that will show you all the battle fields. But, we are not doing that. Instead of heading slightly north, we are going back to Da Nang and catching an hour and 15min flight all the way to Hanoi. $50 one way which includes taxes, fuel surcharges, checked bags, and everything else. The shitty train is $45 and takes 16 hours.