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Thursday 25 Jul 2013
Hoi An, Vietnam

Photo fun on bicycles

Once again, I had to get Josh and Carl up early.  Carl needed to get his new shirts from the tailor, while Josh and I had decided to go out and get some photos in the old town while the light was so good.  We wanted to take more yesterday, but had to keep up with the market tour.  When I got them up at 8am, I realised they hadn’t actually been in for more than a couple of hours and Carl was definitely still drunk.  He decided to cope with this Kye-style by having another beer with breakfast.  We borrowed bikes from the hostel to get into town quicker.  After initially declaring he couldn’t possible ride a bicycle in his current state, Carl then embraced it fully and set off down the road with his beer still in one hand.  We picked up the clothes and headed into the old town.  Each time Josh and I stopped for pictures, we turned around to find Carl had wandered or cycled off somewhere.  At one point, we reached the river and looked both ways but he had vanished.  A lady in one of the boats tried to sell us a trip along the river but we explained we had no time.  On a whim, I then asked her if she’d seen a tall guy on a bike with a beer in his hand.  She started giggling and pointed to one of the little floating jetties further upstream.  There he was at the end of the jetty, still on his bike, bold as anything, drinking his beer and admiring the view. 

On our way out of the old town, I spotted a rundown corner lot where a building had been demolished at some point.  The remaining wall of the next-door building had a beautiful texture to the concrete render and someone had sprayed the word ‘Heroes’ above the bricked up doorway.  I called the boys back and got them to pose under the graffiti. This turned into one of the funniest moments of the trip and some of my favourite photos.  While I was taking their photo, a Vietnamese family walked up and asked if their son could be in the picture, too.  Carl the giant draped his arm around this poor lad’s shoulders and the boy beamed a huge grin at his parents.  I got them doing jumping photos and giggled helplessly as Carl tried to stay upright each time he landed.  We somehow made it back to the hostel in one piece and got a taxi back over to Danang.

We arrived with 40 minutes before our train to Hanoi.  I would have been happy with a bowl of Pho, but the (now-hungover) lads decided they wanted a Burger King, which we’d passed a block or two from the station.  The Swedes and I waited with the luggage while Simon and Josh headed off with our orders.  It took them a long time to come back again.  We were at the point of picking up all the bags between us to head back into the station - hopefully we could block the doors and stop the train leaving without them – when they came sprinting down the road laden with bags of food and drink.  Josh had his flip-flops in one hand and was bleeding profusely from his toe but with less than 10 minutes til the train left, had no time to deal with it.  We all raced across to the station, only to find the concourse so packed that we couldn’t get near the platforms.  As is always the way, the train was running late and we stood there panting, sweating and, in Josh’s case bleeding into a napkin under his foot, for another quarter of an hour.  By the time we finally made it onto the train, the burgers really weren’t that appetising after all.

We had another 6-bed compartment, complete with random smiling Vietnamese guy in the top bunk, so we settled in for the long trek up to Hanoi.  This compartment was not as nice as the last train – it came with a cockroach and a tiny mouse who scurried about on the floor during the afternoon – but we were too tired to care that much.  Josh had downloaded the Top Gear Vietnam Special for the journey, but when we tried to watch it, something didn’t sound quite right.  It took us a moment to realise that Jeremy Clarkson was speaking in Russian.  Josh had downloaded the wrong version. D’oh!


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