Day two, up a little earlier, a quicker breakfast and off out and about in Hoi An by 10am. This time we were on bikes, large steel framed hotel bikes with a basket for our bags.
Guided by our simple map, we headed out into the mayhem that is Vietnamese roads, without cycle helmets, going East in search of the beach.
The meanderings of bikes come without signalling, there’s no sign whether a bike is about to turn right, cutting in front of you, or if you can cross at the t-junction. There is however a helpful beep to let you know they are passing.
But our journey was without any hairy moments, and beyond the initial terror, it was pleasant, the warm air blowing in our faces, the occasional shade, a rare opportunity to overtake someone. It was only 6km to Cua Dai beach, but in the heat it felt longer.
With bikes parked under a shelter, a compulsory 10,000 VND charge, we collapsed on the shaded sand, beneath towering coconut trees. Of course we checked there were no dangerous, ripening coconuts set to fall on us.
The sand beyond this shaded retreat was roasting, sandals were the only option. Up the coast, to the north, you could see Da Nang and the day’s storm clouds forming over the mountains. The sea was calm, but the waves large enough to surf on, crashing into the coast with great force. Force enough to strip me of my sandals and almost my shorts, I held onto both, and, as a weak swimmer, opted for only mild paddling from thereon.
We chilled beneath the coconut leaves for an hour or so, before retreating to the nearby Hoi An beach resort, a luxury hotel for a spot of food and a cheeky dip in their pool. A serene setting alongside the river, we watched as men fished with great orange nets. Still somewhat delicate, or just dehydrated, we stuck to simple western salads and fresh mango juice. (Oh the mangos, the succulent tasty mangos!)
Freshened up, glowing slightly red from the sun, we hopped back on the bikes and took the scenic route home, south towards Cam Thanh. We cycled past a small local school, where the gates were being painted pink, past rice paddies, through small villages, alongside scant oxen, and mini corn harvesters, and past an out of the way but rather large graveyard, with modern looking gravestones.
With another storm cloud looming, we cycled back along Tran Nhan Tong. With a bit of iPhone GPS, use of the map, intuition and blind luck, we found an unmapped road that took us directly to the back of our hotel, over a small stream I was sure wouldn’t have a bridge. And that concluded the mini cycling adventure, baby steps with Vietnamese roads.
That evening Sam wandered out in to Hoi An to purchase some made to measure dresses and coats at fabulous prices. I meanwhile meandered around taking photos, using the tripod to capture some night shots.
Despite bumping into each other twice on our own little missions, we reconvened at the bridge to go for dinner at Mango Mango, a highly recommended restaurant that fused western and vietnamese dishes.
There was a hard sell on the 800,000 five course set menu, we instead opted for a Miss Saigon starter (noodles, fresh herbs, mango, duck) and shrimp wontons with a fruity sauce. And for mains, a leg of duck confit served in a clay pot alongside floury wraps and a rather rare duck breast served with rice.
Despite the rave reviews we were disappointed by the meal. The portion sizes were way off, when the starter appeared it was greeted with, “that’s a starter?”. I couldn’t possibly have eaten both the starter and main, and being a starter, I left some of it in anticipation of the later duck course. Sadly this didn’t taste great, was huge, and in the hot humid heat I really didn’t fancy the stew they served up. Ah well. The french folks next to us seamed to enjoy their meals much more. (I do believe Sam is now suffering, a day later, from the after effects of this).
Another night, another downpour, but this time we came prepared, with huge golf umbrellas. And once more I relaxed in Q with a mojito, Sam elsewhere arranging her clothe purchases.
The streets turned to rivers and in the dark humid wet we skipped home, umbrellas keeping us mostly dry.