After our 10 hour train ride to Da Nang and then our local bus ride the next day to Hoi An, (read about that here) it was nice to finally rock up to our accommodation. We decided to splash out a little bit here, choosing to pay £6 a night, including breakfast, in the Tigon HomeStay. I’m not too sure why they call it a HomeStay as its very much like a hotel, but the quiet relaxed atmosphere was lovely after the craziness of the last couple of hostels.
I had only heard good things about Hoi An and upon arrival I could see why. It is by far the nicest place I have been to in Vietnam so far, with the beautiful old town, tailor shops lining the streets and a lovely atmosphere as you cycle or walk along the river taking in the hustle and bustle of the Vietnamese lifestyle. I had been contemplating the idea of getting a made to measure suit but was unsure on how much this would cost. I then also had the dilemma of what I would do with the suit once I had it made as I’ve still got over 8 months of travelling to go. I had a look in a few different shops and found a grey fabric I really liked, with an interesting double lapel, 2 buttons, 3 inside pockets and a really funky lining. This would cost me £69 for a jacket and trousers so for me it was a no brainer. You can ship the suit home by taking it to the local post office or asking the tailor shop to do it for you. I was so pleased with my first suit that I decided to get another one made, this time blue with a bit more of a reserved lining, costing me £65. Both suits were made to measure and you go back the next day for your first fitting, so they can make any alterations if needed. You need to put down a deposit, both times for me it was half the price of the suit and can pay in either Vietnamese Dong or US Dollars. The trouble now is that I have 2 made to measure suits, plus a suit back home and no real reason to wear them. Hopefully a lot of my friends start getting married when I get back, or I am going to have to get myself an office job. I could always become Barney out of How I Met Your Mother. I’ll think about all that closer to the time though! I packaged up both suits, along with some other bits and bobs I wanted to send home and took a trip to the post office. Here you have the option of airmail which takes 4-6 weeks, or for half the price seamail which takes anywhere up to 3 months. The whole package came to 7.3kg and cost me £41 for to send via seamail, it would have been lighter and therefore cheaper if I wouldn’t have added some other items, so I reckon to send one suit home it would cost about £17. This isn’t too bad and after seeing the quality of the suits I think it is definitely worth it. It’s not just suits you can get made, the girls went a little bit crazy and between them they got shoes, skirts, tops, shorts and shirts all made to measure for very little money.
It is lovely to bike around in and around Hoi An and at out hostel they provided free bikes for us to use. Many streets are closed to cars and motorbikes so it’s easy to get around. You can get out of the town and cycle about 5km to the beach, going past some paddy fields and down past the water coconut tree forest, with water buffalos roaming the side of the roads and lots of food options upon arrival. The sea is quite rough but great fun and refreshing after the heat of the cycling, and its great to chill in the water and jump along with the waves after grabbing some lunch in the beachside restaurants.
I am down to my last 5 of each injection, NovoRapid and Lantus so I decided that I should start looking into getting some more, or if it was even possible it Vietnam. I don’t want to leave it until the last moment and then desperately be searching around in Laos, or wherever I’m going next (I don’t know yet!) and possibly run out! I went to two pharmacies and took my prescription from England, along with both injections I needed and showed them to the pharmacist but unfortunately had no luck. They did have insulin available, but not the same insulin I use, so I didn’t want to gamble. I then went into the hospital to see if they could help me but this wasn’t a nice experience. There were ants and mosquitos everywhere, plus people lying in beds in the reception coughing and spluttering. I waited for about 20 minutes and they brought out some NovoNordisk Mixtard 30 insulin and claimed it was the same as the NovoNordisk NovoRapid FlexPen I use. However I knew it wasn’t the same. They didn’t speak much English and kept pointing to the NovoNordisk and FlexPen writing saying “same, same, same.” I opened the package and had a look at the leaflet and injections and because of this they tried to charge me $75. I said I’d leave and do my research and come back if I need the insulin. I got back to my hostel and sent some e-mails to NovoNordisk and Sanofi, the makers of each insulin injection and NovoNordisk replied almost instantly saying that they do not have business in Hoi An but if I let them know where I am staying in Hanoi they will send me a list of pharmacies where the insulin is available and a packet of 5 injections will cost me $55. This is more expensive than I first anticipated but something I’m going to need to do. I received an automated reply from Sanofi saying they will contact me as soon as possible, but right now I am still waiting for their reply. However Sanofi is a French company, Vietnam used to be occupied by France and there is a French hospital in Hanoi so I am confident I will be able to get this insulin as well. I am meeting my parents on the 27th December for Christmas so if I get 5 more of each injection, this should last me until then. They can bring me out more insulin to keep me going for another 3 months then I will start to analyse the situation again. This is the plan anyway, but I’ll have to keep you updated!
You may have read in my previous post how I have never been fishing and felt like Vietnam would be a great place to experience this, sitting at the side of a lake, with an ice cold beer and dangling a rod in the water. There are lots of fishing tours available but I didn’t really want to do a tour, as you kill the fish you catch then eat them for dinner. Me and Jesper had a ride towards the beach on the first day and asked some locals if we could fish. Every single person we spoke to said we had to do a tour and that it wasn’t possible to fish on our own. We felt pretty defeated and didn’t know what to do. On our last day we did some more research and analysed our options. We found a hostel on hostelworld that had a picture of a fishing lake and some people fishing on the side, perfect. As the girls were doing yet more shopping we decided to head over there and see what we could find. The hostel was called New Sunshine Homestay and was lovely. We walked in and spoke to the owner and she said we could fish in her lake for $5 for 2 hours, perfect! We were given 2 rods, some bait (big fat dead shrimp) and a bucket. We ordered an iced coffee each and sat down at the side of the lake, relaxing in the sun and casting our rods into the water. After 45 minutes we had no luck so went and ordered a beer. There wasn’t much movement in the water and I personally think we had the wrong bait (small fish don’t eat other fish?!) and it was too hot. After another beer and 2.5 hours later we were giving up defeated as our time was up, but I decided to try one more time. It was starting to cool down at 4pm and I finally caught a fish, my first ever fish! It was bigger then I thought it would be and I really struggled to get the hook out its mouth. I filled the bucket with water to help it breath, managed to get the hook free and all of a sudden it slept like a salmon on to my feet and wiggled its way down the bank into the water. Not quite the graceful ending I had planned but I’d caught a fish, and got a bit sunburnt in the process! The fishing experience costs us £5.30 each, for nearly 3 hours fishing, 2 beers and 1 iced coffee each.
Hoi An is a beautiful city with some lovely buildings, great food and lots to do if you take your time. The old town is well worth a visit, especially in the evening when they light all the lanterns and you can take your pick from a wide range of restaurants. You can cycle along the river all the way to the beach, pick up draft beer for 5000 Dong (£0.15) and get yourself some exquisite clothes made, from suits, to shirts, to shorts, to dresses and shoes, even your own bow tie. From here the 4 of us are heading to Hue and continuing our way north up this beautiful country.