Last time we were in Vietnam, Chloe got exorcist-style food poisoning that laid her out for a good few days. So there were naturally a few nerves when we arrived into Da Nang three weeks ago. Early escape options were planned, with Singapore or a return to Kuala Lumpar as possible alternative destinations.
Three weeks later, we left central Vietnam on schedule having done very little. It has been very relaxing, interesting and, apart from one place beside the beach, all accommodation we have stayed at has been good value, extremely friendly and of a very high standard.
The food has generally been absolutely excellent. We enjoyed the best pizza we’ve ever eaten, demolished two lots of Indian curry reminding us of home, had the best ever veggie noodle soup for breakfast and we found a couple of great Vietnamese places doing home-cooked delights. All this and fantastic cafés. Cathartic.
Added to all this, the tailors of Hoi An knocking up excellent quality, cheap custom-made suits and other clothes in barely 24 hours, says to us that we’ll definitely be coming back to Vietnam, and especially to Hoi An.
So, here goes for Vietnam, things we’ll miss:
- Genuine friendliness. Ok, ok, staff in hotels and shops are meant to be friendly. However, the hospitality and warmth we received went well beyond just good training. Being greeted by all staff, by first name, when we first see them in the morning is just plain lovely. But genuine friendliness is there in all contact, whether this be grandma and kids walking down the road when we were sitting having a cold drink and she insisted the kids wave and say “hello” to us or seeing all the smiley faces when taking the photo tour.
- Traffic free Hoi An. No motorised traffic is allowed for most of the day, so getting around Hoi An was a pleasure and even got us back on our bikes We really enjoyed our cycling, despite the heat, even though after 15 minutes it looked like we’d just come out of the shower. The only issue was the number of large tour groups who thought they owned the streets and insisted on not looking out for other pedestrians or cyclists. Idiots.
- Coffee shop view. As mentioned in the previous post, we found a coffee shop with a view. We saw locals taking their chickens out for a walk, tourists posing for photos, tourists being accosted (in the nicest possible way) by old ladies carrying fruit who happily posed for “a photo for a dollar” and watching the boats go across and down the river. And it did great coffee.
And what we won’t miss:
- The heat and humidity. Oh my god, it was hot and humid. 37c with 90% humidity equated to feeling like late 40s. We, like all western tourists, were literally dripping with sweat after barely 10 minutes walk. We had to change clothes up to 3 times a day. Thank goodness for cheap and very quick laundry!
- Construction. This part of Vietnam is one big construction site. It is not a matter of IF there is construction work near your hotel, but how noisy it is and early it starts. We got lucky for most of the time, but being away from concrete mixers, drilling, hammering and sheet metal cutters will be very pleasant.
- Coughing. The whole “cover your mouth when coughing” doesn’t seem to have reached Vietnam. Bloke walking along the street? Not really okay. The serving staff hacking away onto cutlery when laying the table in a restaurant? Err, no, definitely not okay.