The land where rats stray and motocycles roar

Trip Start Mar 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 23, 2010

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, April 19, 2010

We arrived in Danang at 2:15 pm. We had just taken the night train from Ho Chi Min (Saigon) City,which was an adventure in itself. I first awoke (around 6am) to a Vietnamese man asking me if I was chicken and rice for breakfast - a little dazed (and still half asleep) I keenly accepted (only hearing the word breakfast) and then asked Lu if she wanted any and she too agreed ( she doesn't even eat chicken!) so there we were half asleep, about to munch on chicken and rice when I realised what the crap was going on.... go back to sleep I said to Lu so we collapsed back on to our bunks and smiled kindly at the rejected chicken and rice. A few hours later I awoke to a little cockroach crawling up my arm... it was wonderful - the perfect alarm clock.

We spent the next few hours watching the scenery go by - a lot of homes had strange beehive shaped hay huts in their gardens.. we decided it was food storage. It probabley isn't at all - so if you find out, please do let us know.

2:15pm - the train pulled into Danang and we had to shuffle about (or rather squish into a corner) to allow the conductor to open the door for us... the backpacks took up most of the train carriage hall! We then proceeded to leave the train with difficulty (imagine a blowfish trying to escape a water bottle lid - it can happen, but it looks bloody stupid! First thing - get a cab to the Lonley Planet recommendation... two Vietnamese dudes asked us about a cab - it seemed odd (being two of them) but we thought ok let's see what the deal is... when we walked around the corner we realised we had to get on the back of a motobike with our rucksacks. We looked at each other and laughed and thought "what the hell!" Back packs were stapped to the back, we hopped on (luckly the bike had a small back and some handles to hold on to then we were off.... It was nice and breezy on the bike (it made a nice change!) We got to the hotel but weren't too impressed by Danang city and since we were still yet to see a beach we thought we should go check it out. The motobike dudes took us over the Danang bridge and on to China Beach (this is where the Americans first landed). We saw 'Jimmy's' from afar and had checked it out online so decided to check in there. All was good in the hood so we stayed. We agreed with the motobike dudes to pick us up at10am the next day for a day trip to Hoian... we enjoyed the motobnikes in the end so thought we would do it again the next day!

We went down to the beach and ran straight into the sea... we played a while jumping around like loonies in the waves... like we had never seen sea before then went back to the beach for a beer. A Vietnamese dude started to chatter with us and we all laughed as a group of Chinese ran into the sea in swimsuits from the 50's! We couldn't believe how daring they were being (everywhere else they have been in lifejackets as soon as they see water!- these lot must have been hardcore!)

It was starting to get on so we said "Jow" to our Vietnamese friend and went back to the hotel for a change up and then out to dinner. Danang is quite depressing... there are a lot of resorts being built on the beach front and the hotels that are live and kicking are few and far between so it's hard to meet up with people and PARTYYY! Anyway we settled for a meal at a seafront restaurant, indulged in some rubber coated calamari, prawns and the dullest mackeral we have ever tasted. As we finished our meal a cockroach came scuttleing by to say hello.. followed shortly by a rat. At this moment in time we were just leaving and Lu said "get your jacket and go.. now", me being over the top - crapped my pants and jumped on the restaurant table.... luckily the restaurant was empty (now we know why!) so Lu grabbed me down and we fled the scene. We chose to walk home that night in the middle of the road - a car coming at us felt nicer than a rat.

When we got in we watched a film about Dorothy Dandrige (if you have any idea who this woman is then please let us know!) Apparently she was the first black actress to be nominated for an oscar. Luckly we didn't stay up to watch it and caught the last 10 minutes in the morning - yes she dies penniless. Shocker!

Anyway the motocycle dudes came to pick us up and the day trip began - we went straight to beautiful Hoi An - the home to tailoring and shoe making! The old town is beautiful and really is old - it was like going back to Asia 100 years ago! We spent an hour wandering around and booked our flight to Hanoi, had a drink (or two!) then made our way to the rest of the days activities.

First stop was at a local pottery village, where we both took turns at the wheel and crafted some fine pots. We picked up some clay whistles for the boys too! We then headed on to the rice fields and made some rice cakes.... what happens is that you grind up water and rice to make a paste then spread it finely over a hot rice burning stove (like a pancake) then pick it up by curling around a wet cloth and leaving it out in the sun to dry for a few days. It was really interesting to watch and then we got a go each. We both made quite round rice cakes and everyone was impressed - job done! The lady of the house then fried up some rice cakes and we had soggy rice cake wrapped inside the fried rice cake to make a hugh rice fest sandwhich. One or two bites with a tad of soy sauce was nice - getting through two was hard work. But we didn't want to seem rude so we indulged! Next we moved on to Myson --- it was like being dropped off into the middle of jurassic park. We thought that a T-Rex was going to come bounding out of the rainforest any moment. As we arrived the biggest storm piped up ... no rain had begun and the motocycle drivers urged us to buy raincoats. "We'll be alright" we replied"a bit of rain can't do any harm". In the end the drivers forced us to take some spares.... 10 minutes in BOY DID WE NEED EM! It absolutley cained it down... the raindrops were killing insects maannnn! We found a little giftshop place which luckily had a fridge so we grabbed a beer and just waited it out. 30 minutes later and it passed. We ventured deeper into jurrasic park and found the ruins of Myson. The stream we had to cross was really pretty - full of rocks which had been piled up into little buildings - it looked lovely. We then decided to venture around after exploring the rocky ruins... Our drivers took us to the peanut fields - yes peanuts grow in the ground and they taste like raw potatoes!

Finally we headed to the marble mountains....100 stairs later we reached the top. We were driven mad by some local who took poor Luise to every "buddha" and made her take a picture then the cheeky bast&rd wanted money. Luckily we managed to lose him for 10 minutes and sat back to enjoy the beauty of the pagoda at the top of the mountains.

Heaven ..... and a lovely bottom rest after all that time spent on the back of  motobikes!
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