(Chanh, the best hotel manager in Indochina - Bich Duyen Hotel, HCMC)
(foot massage at Than Son Nhat, Gate 6 Domestic)
(Vietnam Airlines, HCMC to Danang on A333)
(the cab that broke down outside Hoi An Town)
Got up with the crows for my cab ride to Than Son Nhat airport and my Vietnam Airlines flight. Stayed at the excellent Bich Duyen Hotel last night and ate for the 3rd time at the Coriander Thai last night. The personable Bich manager sat down with me at breakfast and we discussed language and stuff (his English pronunciation of "juice" needed help), then he called me a cab and gave me a great send off - quite some little (12 room) guesthouse - for Vietnam it would be classed with Best Western at least @ USD 25. with breakfast.
After life threatening rush hour traffic, I checked in with VN Air at the airport, and since I had some time, I gave myself the luxury of a foot massage at Gate 6 Domestic (my flight to Danang/Hoi An was #8). What an experience (do not pass through Than Son Nhat without trying this!!!) - hot scented towels and warm scented oils (was this Saigon or Tokyo?) - hot and strong herbal tea, eye pillows, neck pillow and then came the foot massage, but it also included the lower leg (after the foot bath). I was impressed @ 130K VN.
Our plane was a rented China Airlines (Taiwan) A333 wide body, and it was full this morning. The hour flight included a bento box lunch of ham and tomato sandwich, mineral water, Kit Kat bar and scented VN Air branded handi-wipes. It would have been an excellent flight except for the 2 infants who were screaming most of it.
Danang International is the #3 airport in country and has excellent services and I was in a cab for Hoi An within about 3 minutes. My young driver spoke little English, but we communicated well with sign language. Typical of most VN cabbies (forgot to say that my Saigon cabbie this AM grazed a female scooter rider - no damage) he was a bit of a lead footed, horn tooting maniac. No sooner did we enter the outskirts of Hoi An, and the cab broke down. I got out and tried to give a push start, but no go. He called for a backup, and soon came another, complete with a young couple from Jakarta + cabbie. Hoi An Town soon appeared, and I had my $15. guesthouse room at the Dai Long Hotel (with balcony). After a walk around = a really neat town (The Carmel Village of VN), I was heading back to my room when I saw this cyber cafe, and thought I'd try uploading my shots. It worked, and as you see, not too shabby for a first timer! It did take 2-3 hours as it was the first time using the memory card reader/USB cable and software to load to local files and then upload to my blog. (downright cheap for 17K VN - about $1.05 I figure.)
Time to edit this entry a bit after a dinner at Thang Bom here on the Hai Ba Trung - just 100 yds down from my hotel.
It was late (almost 8) so I wanted something fast but nice too, and the Thang Bom looked just the place - dinner among the palms and stars. However, this place offered none of the world famous Hoi An specialties, so I had to do some work and actually think what I wanted to eat. I was all pho'd out for the moment, so I chose hot and sour shrimp soup, squid with lemongrass and chili, mixed fruit for dessert, and Singapore Slings to cool off with. The wait staff were funny here, but fun. Looks like the waiter does the work (runs the bar as well as a sidewalk concession, and waits on tables as well. It took me a good 5 min to open the seasoned soy bottle, and the salt was completely out. The food was quite good - esp the hot and sour soup. The Sling was not too hard to take either (started drinking them in Saigon, and they're a nice refreshing change from Saigon Red beer. The squid looked more like an appetiser to me (small plate). I had the mixed fruit plate to end with (dragon fruit, mango, pineapple and banana).
Hoi An has 4 types of retail (hotel, restaurant, Internet cafes and tailor shops). This town is famous for custom made clothes at a low price, but from the samples that are shown outside the shops, they're a little behind the times. The men's suits look like cheap Chinese suits of the 1970's and the women's is even worse - sort of stylish Russian of the 1970's (seriously!)