tAfter heavy and extremely quick drinking the night before (see previous post) I woke up full of good feelings about Vietnam. We had a quick breakfast in the memorable shop and set off to an inter-city bus station. Hitchhiking was not an option because Natalia had only few weeks of holiday, Basia wanted to get to Cambodia as soon as possible and I wanted to go with them. Traveling this way enabled all of us to get the most out of the timeframes we had to experience Vietnam.
At the bus station we were trying to negotiate down (set and advertised) the price. Obviously with no luck, but it’s always worth trying. For $17 each we went to Da Nang. Comfortable sleeping bus with only a few passengers, because of Lunar New Year celebration, which were to come in a week.
There’s one thing you need to be prepared for when traveling long distances by coach in Vietnam, rollercoaster-like driving throughout the night. If you don’t go to sleep in the evening, then most likely you won’t get any sleep. Girls slept peacefully, while I was biting my fingernails observing the fast paced driver zigzaging around bikes, cars and lorries traveling in both directions. Few inches away from head-on collissions, driver skillfully (I hoped) manouvered his way from Hanoi to Da Nang, leaving me tired of no sleep and awed by the sights of houses, coast and jungle.
As the morning forced its way to south-east Asia, we arrived in Da Nang. Walking through the streets of this rather large city we have stopped for breakfast and then … coffee. That’s when my love for Vietnamese coffee started. I had tried some in Hanoi, but it’s the south Vietnam where you can find someone serving coffee on the street (every 10 meters). It’s an amazing speciality of this region and it’s basically an espresso with some condensed milk in a large glass full of ice. Just wait a moment for the ice to melt and enjoy a great and powerful taste. I fell in love and will surely try to copy this recipe in the future when someone comes over for a coffee.
We have bought some fruits at the market with sellers making a big fuss out of our presence (maybe it’s not so common to see foreigners in there). Then, as we were heading for the beach, railway station staff called us and invited to something that looked like a party outside their backroom quarters. Well, they were celebrating the New Year (only one week before it was due). They sat us down and offered everything they had, plenty of food and alcohol. We couldn’t finish a single can of beer because it was replaced by another just to make sure we do not run out. Many toasts and things to try. Most of all, they love singing, so we had to as well. They sang in Vietnamese and Russian, we did our performances in English and Polish.
Spontaneous as it started, we have carried on after just about one hour there. As we got to the beach it was afternoon and it was time to think about sleeping arrangements. We have put up a tent and asked bar owner, next to which we were, if we can hang out clothes on their premises to dry. It wasn’t a problem for them, but as it got dark they came to us and said that we have to pay 1 dollar to stay in a tent on the beach. We felt it was just not right and they were not playing fair, so we wanted to leave when we were approached by a lady passing by. She offered to host us in her home. Lovely lady from UK with Vietnamese origins. Turned out that she is a successful businesswoman and have a beautiful house. She took us for a party, which we all won’t forget for a long time. We rocked the place, and the way we did it can only be described as mayhem.
In the morning we went to a very posh restaurant where our host had to meet one of her employees and we enjoyed peaceful atmosphere and a real change from the places we usually dine at. Few hours later we were again on the bus, this time we were heading for Saigon, but that’s in next blog.