Days 276-277: Friends When You Need Them

I continued to fight a cold and wanted to sleep in because I didn’t fall asleep until 12:30 am. At 7:40 am, there was a knock on my door. It was the front desk woman reminding me that I had a tour that day at 8:00 am. This was the second hotel in Vietnam where the front desk seemed to always have tabs on me, reminding me about tours and breakfast. I got dressed and quickly ate some fruit and yogurt. 

The bus that picked me up was old and falling apart. There was a couple in the van and after picking up several more people, we all boarded a crappy bus. We drove an hour to My Son Sanctuary

Our tour guide addressed the bus on a microphone as he stood in the aisle. He was short, had on black jeans and a long-sleeve dark blue button-up shirt, was wearing a cowboy-looking hat, and was very dramatic. The way he talked was annoying because it was sharp and curt. He often repeated himself, especially the many times he told us, “My English is excellent.”

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We arrived at My Son Sanctuary and had a 15-minute break to grab a coffee and use the restroom before our tour began. I sat at a table and met two women in their 50s who were also on the tour. Their names were Suzanne and Uta and they were from Germany. The women grew up together, but Uta now lives in the south and Suzanne lives on the same street where she grew up. The women were traveling for two and a half weeks in Vietnam. They loved it because they felt their fellow travellers were all happy to be there.

Uta is a professional story-teller, which I think is so awesome! She reads fairy tales to people in nursing homes, school, etc. Suzanne is a software developer. They were really friendly and were my buddies during the tour. 

After taking a long golf cart-like shuttle, we began the outdoor tour of the ruins. They believe the community was built around 1,200 years ago. The French discovered about 71, halfway-buried buildings in 1889. Our guide blamed the U.S. bombs for destroying many of the buildings and the reason there are now only 25 left. He explained that the U.S. knew that the Vietcong were living there as a base, so they bombed it. He said the French told the U.S. not to bomb it because of the historical significance, but they did it anyway. France didn’t get any more love from our tour guide. He blamed the French for stealing artifacts when they left Vietnam and putting them in The Louv. 

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Some of the ruins had standing buildings that we could enter, but most were rubble. We walked from site to site among stones strewn around the grass. Our tour guide got on his soapbox once again explaining that Ho Chi Minh is very revered in Vietnam and many people have his pictures displayed on their mantals because he brought Vietnam together as one country. He said, “If it weren’t for him, we’d be like Korea with a north and a south. He told the Vietnamese that we must come together in order to defeat the U.S. If not for him, we wouldn’t have been able to defeat them. We are open to tourism today and we are one Vietnam because of Ho Chi Minh.”

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It was extremely hot and humid outside and I was sweating like crazy. My allergies were also reacting to the local tree and grass pollen. After we explored the ruins on our own, we took the bus to a boat to get back to Hoi An. They served a small amount of rice and veggies as we crammed onboard.

Once back in Hoi An, I said goodbye to my German friends and walked to a tailor. An old coworker recommended the tailor and I noticed they were all over Hoi An. Vietnam makes a lot of clothes that are sold in the U.S. and you can go to a tailor and have clothes perfectly fit and made for you for relatively cheap. I browsed through magazines and chose two dresses, one pair of shorts, and two shirts for $110 USD. 

I walked down the street at Madam Kahn for some Banh Mi for lunch. Then I ordered a Grab motorbike to get back to my hotel. The driver was taller than most Vietnamese and I couldn’t see above his head like I usually could. He had a cell phone holder which was nice because he could keep both hands on the handlebars. He also slowed for bumps, which was considerate.

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I put my swimsuit on and enjoyed the beautiful pool outside of my room. I swam around getting some exercise while looking out at the rice fields. Then a French guy and girl got into the pool. They appeared to be in their early 30s, both had dark hair, and were very fit. They were travelling for two weeks in Vietnam, going from the north to the south. They told me about Paris and how it’s expensive and so busy that everyone is always in a hurry. I talked with the guy all about Australia and New Zealand because I was headed to Australia soon. He bought a car there and converted it to a home and drove all around for three months. He told me that he sold it for the same price that he paid for it. 

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The sun set and we got out of the pool. Back in my room, my allergies were going crazy. I had taken Allegra in the morning, Benadryl the night before, and cold medicine in the afternoon. I constantly sneezed and looked up the allergy index for the area. It showed “extreme” and I definitely felt it.

The next morning, I was still trying my best to fight a cold. I took allergy medicine, nose spray, and eye drops. My nose constantly ran, but was stuffed up throughout the night and my eyes felt swollen. I did not want to go to a doctor, so I took what I could. 

I took a Grab to the tailor to try on the clothes I ordered. The woman needed to make a few adjustments and I would pick them up later. I walked to a lantern-making class that was supposed to be an hour and a half, but I only had an hour before I needed to be somewhere. They helped ensure I’d finish in time. The class cost $250,000 dong ($10.80 USD). The frame was already made, so I just needed to put all the cloth panels on it. 

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I sat down at the long table next to two girls and two guys from Denmark. They were all in their gap year after high school, but were planning to take two years off before starting university. I talked mostly with Lauren across from me, and she explained that most people she knows take two years off. They were all currently traveling for two months. 

When they found out that I was from the U.S., they told me that they were surprised the drinking age is 21 years old. In Denmark, they explained that you can drink at any age, but have to be 16 years old to buy it. I told the group that in the U.S., some bars are 19 to get in, but 21 to drink. The police will walk in and arrest anyone caught drinking that is not 21 years old. Lauren said, “Do they also break up parties?” I responded, “Yes.” Surprised, she said, “Wow, I thought that was only in the movies.”

Lauren told me about her travels in the U.S. and I told about the time I went to Denmark. Lauren told me that her government pays for their school and gives them $1,000 a month for an allowance so they can attend. She explained that rent is so high there, that the $1,000 won’t even cover rent, so they still have to work while in school. 

I made a lantern with purple and blue fabric and it was beautiful! It folded nicely so that I could put it in my luggage. Once I was finished, I walked to a restaurant to meet Ben and Berry, who I had met a few times in Vietnam. I passed a cute couple embracing, further cementing the “most romantic city.”

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Ben and Berry ordered a few appetizers and drinks and we caught up. Berry had been feeling sick the last two days and had a very upset stomach. This was the first meal she had eaten in two days. The food was really delicious, so I’m glad she was able to eat some of it. 

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We stopped at the tailors so I could pick up my clothes and then we walked to a theatre to see a show. The indoor auditorium had air conditioning, which was awesome because most places didn’t. The show was really entertaining with acrobatics and comedic elements. We laughed and took some pictures outside by the entrance sign.

After the show, we took a boat ride on the river. Lanterns hung from the boat, creating a beautiful atmosphere. The breeze cooled us off and the water was still. The driver gave us each a candle inside a small paper cup and we set it off into the river. 

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The night market was going on, so we walked around trying and sharing the food from the stalls. We ate a banana crepe and avocado ice cream while drinking a can of beer. Then we sat at some tables so I could eat a very small lobster. 

After walking around some more, we stopped at a restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating. We drank and talked about relationships. I was enjoying their friendship and their company. It was tough being in the most romantic city alone, but that day I wasn’t alone, which made things much more enjoyable. 

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It was getting late, so we walked back to where Ben and Berry left their bike. We walked down the street with all the shops, but it was dark and nobody was around. It felt like walking down a movie set with fake buildings. They got on their bike and rode off as I ordered a Grab. I worked on my blog until 1:30 am and had to be up early the next morning for a flight to the island of Phu Quoc. 

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Post Edited By: Mandy Strider

Published by Christy

I quit my corporate job and sold my house in Los Angeles so I can travel and write. I grew up in St. Louis, MO and moved to the Los Angeles area after college. I worked in the business world for 15 years. Follow along to see pictures and hear stories of people I've met along my journey so far - driving to Alaska.

6 thoughts on “Days 276-277: Friends When You Need Them

    1. That’s a good question. The shorts weren’t very good, but the shirts and dresses fit better. The fabric was too thick for the shirts and they were too long. Unfortunately, one of the dresses isn’t really my style. It’s hard to pick the fabric when you only see a small piece! I should have spent more time on them, but I hate picking out clothes!

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