We’ve been quiet recently and inquiring minds want to know. And I figure the truth is that if we completely leave out this part of the trip, then we would be lying – both to the small outside world that cares and to our present and future selves. As partially expected, leg two of the trip has not gone as planned. Why that is the case is a concoction of variables that end up adding up to a big fat ‘meh.’ So here it goes.
Hoi An is a small town on the east coast of Vietnam, right in the middle of the country, a bit south of Da Nang. It is known as a romantically colored (and highly touristed) town, with sprawling rice fields, faded yellow colonial buildings, and lanterns dotting the town and the boats that wind through its river. It truly is magical – that is, when it’s not raining.
The draw for us was its size. Compared to Chiang Mai, we thought it would be small and welcoming, we could find community quickly, and we could take advantage of having bikes and spend leisurely afternoons wandering through rice paddies and venturing on bikes to the beach. There truly have been a couple of days like this.
But the real story is this. It is winter here. You would think that 60s/low 70s (low 20s) would be warm enough, but it’s just too windy and rainy. You can’t bike during those times. No one, I repeat, no one is at the beach. The cute collection of restaurants and shops at the beach is a hollowed-out ghost town. The Vietnamese government changed its visa rules since Covid, so travelers can only get 30 days entry into Vietnam. That means that Hoi An basically cleared itself out of foreigners – one person told me it once had 4,000 long term expats, and it has now dropped to 300. Finally, we are here before the big new year holiday of Tet, when people take off and go visit family for long periods of time. It feels empty or like the town doesn’t have a center of gravity. The end result is that we just can’t get a foot in here – we go to a restaurant, no one is there. No activities are happening. Where is everyone???
And then there is the house. It should be awesome, shouldn't it? Look at this pool, and our cute bikes and scooter!
But there just have been SO MANY ridiculous things. This will bore you to tears, but we just had to have a repository to store the mishaps of this house.
- No blankets, not enough sheets, no lamps, no side tables, no towels, no cleaning supplies
- No hot water
- Water stops altogether
- Small centipede on couch
- Electric shock from microwave
- Can’t turn TV volume down
- Power completely out
- Still no hot water
- Cockroach in bathroom
- Low water pressure in shower
- Shower water never gets to right temperature - either scalding or freezing
- Large centipede in bathroom
- Electric kettle breaks
- Loud karaoke from neighbours every few nights (which is somewhat endearing)
- Microwave back - shocks Chris again
- iPad charger tips lightly shock us
- Large spider in house
- AC doesn’t turn on
- Battery compartment corroded in AC remote
- Rat nest inside AC unit
- Dead large lizard outside house
- AC is dripping in neighbour’s yard "preventing chickens from laying eggs"
- Many spiders inside house
- Giant grasshopper in living room
- Tin roof clatters constantly every time it rains
- Loud banging on same roof every time wind gusts
- Landlords speak no English (and our Vietnamese is definitely lacking) so we have to communicate through realtor
- Chickens and roosters loudly crowing 24/7, dog barks during the night
- Pool guy shows up 5 times in 2 days
- No screens on windows so can't open doors because of mosquitos - things in bathroom getting mold all over them
So we’ve decided to jump ship a bit early. This slightly breaks our hearts, because we know that things will improve with both the weather and the environment after the holiday. That said, when there are enough signs that something isn’t quite right, then it is best to listen to those voices. So here’s the new plan:
- Hop over to Penang for a 10 day worldschooling hub this weekend
- Come back to Hoi An for a few days, then venture off on a trip to Hue and Phong Na
- Back to the house for our final few days and then fly to Hanoi
- Hang out in Hanoi, go to Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh
- Fly to Taiwan to visit our dear friends for a couple of weeks
- Fly to Sri Lanka for 3 weeks
- Then start our Italy trip (the final leg!!!)
The world is now looking up since we’ve settled on a new plan. And things haven’t been all bad. Obie has finished up his 8th grade applications/assessments, Emmet has found a new passion for poetry (along with photography), Asa has been inspired by the incessant karaoke of this place and pushes for nightly karaoke dance parties where we all go up to the attic, put on a disco light, play music, and sing and dance. Chris has been restarting running training. I’ve done some Pilates and have been exploring a possible academic return. We have times of biking and scootering through rice paddies. We’ve had a couple of sunny days at the beach. We have seen the dragon bridge breathe fire and water in Da Nang and explored some incredible sights such as My Son Sanctuary, Marble Mountain, and Lady Buddha.
My Son: ruins from the Champa Kingdom in the 4th-13th century, with origins of Indian Hinduism (bombed heavily during the American/Vietnam war)
Lady Buddha and Linh Ung Pagoda
Da Nang, including the fire/water breathing dragon bridge
And I'm sorry - I can't resist all of the pictures of creatures we have seen. This does not include all of the snakes, which slither away too quickly for a picture. The last pic is of the AC man clearing the rat's den out of Obie's AC. A bit too much for this city girl...
But it’s time to switch gears…onwards and upwards!