Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Finally I get to ride in Vietnam

After spending the last few days in bed sick, I'm finally feeling better today.  I had to extend my stay in Hoi An by 2 nights because of my cold, and I was already a day behind schedule, so it means I won't get a chance to visit Ha Long bay when I go to Hanoi shortly.  A real shame, but gives me another good reason to come back to Vietnam sometime soon!  Like I need any more reasons to come back here?

So I hired a motorbike ($5/day) and just took off with the Google Maps cache on my phone as my only guide.  I didn't really care where I went, I just wanted to go exploring the local countryside and get some time on a bike.  Despite having *the* most uncomfortable helmet possible (it was so uncomfortable I actually took it off to check if I had it on backwards, surely it wasn't supposed to be like this?), I had a blast going through local villages, following rivers, and then following the South China Sea coast up to and past Danang and exploring a couple of cool deserted beach resorts and an old US air base that was now a driver training course.
I saw traditional fishermen setting nets beside huge riverboats converted into restaurants in the middle of *nowhere*, and a man was herding cattle down the middle of the major 4-lane highway connecting Hoi An with Danang.
I also saw a heap of western beach resorts in the process of being built, including "Norman Estates" which is a golf resort with Greg Norman's face plastered over every piece of advertising.  It's great to see the local economy booming like this, but it's sad to see that the development is the same generic boring western-style housing that is so at odds with the local character and shows no imagination.  Soon the whole world will be the same.  Boring.

Riding on the "wrong" side of the road isn't really a problem in Vietnam; it's not like people stick to any particular side of the road anyway, or give way when turning in either direction, or stop for lights, or follow any rules it seems.  Forget giving way, indicators, lights, brakes, head-checks.  The only control I needed to master was the horn.  The one thing I still do occassionally is try to get into the driver's seat of taxis! haha..

On the way back to my hotel I found a gorgeous little restaurant just outside Hoi An that was built over the river.  I originally stopped to grab a photo and a cold drink, but ended up staying for a sensational 7-course dinner of local dishes which broke the bank at $7.50.

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