Day 10 in Vietnam
03.31.2015 - 03.31.2015 90 °F
We woke early in the morning, anxious to return to Hoa's Place. We quickly packed our bags, strapped them on, checked out of our hotel, and headed down the street and back to Hoa's.
Hoa was already standing outside, waiting for us to start walking down his street. He rushed out to meet us, telling us that he would have had the motorbike bring our bags back - we didn't have to carry them! (What a sweetheart!) He then offered to take our picture, saying how cool it would look to have a picture of us all walking with our backpacks on down the road. He's not much of a photographer (eek!), but it's the thought that counts.
We took a seat, and Hoa took our breakfast orders. Cary and Maggie had yogurt and pancakes, Rick had scrambled eggs, and I had an omelette.
While the kids played on their iPads, we relaxed and enjoyed the morning talking with Hoa and the other guests. One gentleman, a German guy who was in Vietnam "for a couple of months or something", sat at a nearby table eating hard boiled eggs. He told us his story: he arrived in Hanoi, bought a motorbike for $200, spent $60 at a mechanic ensuring it was roadworthy and making a few minor repairs, and then set off down the coast for destinations unknown. He planned to sell the bike for $150 at the end of his trip. Another girl was a lone traveler from Singapore - she also seemed unsure of how long she would be in country, and had bought a motorbike to travel. The two of them had met at Hoa's and planned to drive to Monkey Mountain (a local sightseeing place) for the day... well, whenever they got around to it. Nobody was in any hurry.
After breakfast, two of Hoa's friends from the American military (who have now settled in Vietnam, married Vietnamese women and give motorcycle tours for a living) came by for breakfast. We talked with them for quite a while, listening to their stories about Hoa from the war, their lives here now, etc. The kids were perfectly content playing on their iPads.
All in all, it was a completely relaxing, beautiful morning. I could have stayed there for a century, meeting people as the wind blew them in from whichever direction while sipping beer from Hoa's refrigerator. I can see why people stay here for weeks on end.
As the time to leave was quickly approaching, we grabbed the current Travelers Journal (#29) and wrote an entry, joking that perhaps someday Maggie and/or Cary would return and read our entry. (Hoa shared with him that this has actually happened; a boy was brought by his parents when he was 3, and later returned as a 20-something, asking if Hoa remembered him.)
Hoa called us a taxi, we took some final photos and settled our tab, and were on our way. It was way, way too short of a visit.
We arrived at Ga Da Nang (the Danang train station) with a little time before our train, and took seats in front of a huge air conditioner. As the family waited comfortably, I made my way into the gift shop, and found a kid's book with pictures of fruit from the region as well as the English words for them. I was so excited, as I had forgotten the names of many of the fruits we had tried back in the Delta: I can now tell you they were papaya, soursop, rambutan, mango, jack fruit, dragon fruit, durian, sapodilla, and milky fruit.
As our train departed around 1:30pm, this was the first time we had boarded a train with the intention of staying awake. The train ride to Hanoi would last us all night, and would arrive at 4:30am. We got on the train and immediately gathered around the window in the hallway, watching the countryside go by.
We had not seen much of the journey from the train legs from Saigon to Nha Trang or Nha Trang to Da Nang, but the section from Da Nang to Hue is known as the most beautiful of the north-south railway because of how closely it hugs the coastline. I found an area between the cars where I could take pictures through an open window, and spent an hour or two snapping photos as the coastline rolled by until the train stopped in Hue. (We were not getting off in Hue - not enough time, unfortunately.)
We spent the evening reading books on our iPads and venturing about very little. Knowing that we would arrive so early in the morning, I fell asleep early to get a jump on the day. Our last sleeper train in Vietnam...