Hoi an – missing you already [South East Asia Series 2019.2020]

I got the train from Quy Nhon to Hoi an at 8.30am and as soon as I got to the station I met Sue-Ellen and David Pinchin, the most amazing couple from Australia who were going to Hoi An as well.

Sometimes it’s just so good to find someone to have a chat with and share travelling experiences. We chatted for a bit, I told them about my last few days and we spoke a bit about the awful fires in Australia. Before getting on the train I unashamedly asked if we could share a cab when we get to Hoi an since our hostels were in the same direction and I’ve been getting super overwhelmed with the taxi drivers eveytime I get off a train station. The trip to Hoi an was ok (I actually preferred the sitting seat than the bunk bed) and when I got to my hostel I immediately knew it had been a good choice. Probably a bit too calm and it was basically empty when I arrived, but that’s what I needed.

Under the Coconut Tree hostel is all semi-open bungalows (no air con) and it’s simply beautiful. The beach is 5min walk away, the food was delicious and they’ve got a bunch of puppies running around!

And then I got to my dorm and met Laura (probably the only other person there other than me who wasn’t in a couple). We hunged out all day, explored Hoi An in the evening, and arranged to do a self-guided bike tour the next day that I’d been looking at online.

The second day in Hoi An was spent cycling. (I’ve looked into this self- guided tour online, it’s amazing!). Literally all day cycling with a short stop in Hoi-an for the best coconut coffee with ice cream and some food.

I got us lost a few times (far too many) but it was amazing to see rural Vietnam, with people working in the fields, kids finishing school etc. The landscapes were amazing, people were nice, talkative and smiled and waved when we were taking pictures. I had one of the best days since these holiday started! Except for the sore bum, it was pretty much the perfect day.

The following day we went to town and the beach, and we had a very relaxed day.

That same evening I met Leia from Ireland and then Dan from New Zealand. It’s amazing how once again (for the 2nd time ever!) I decided to change my plans last minute after meeting people that I really just wanted to be around for a little bit longer.

Leia and I chatted over breakfast and lunch and I simply decided to cancel my night train and skip Ninh Binh. I booked a flight (£40) straight to Hanoi where I’ll stay for just a few hours and then straight to Sapa. Again… changing my plans when I’ve only got a month to travel is not something I’ve ever done before but this trip is teaching me a lot about travelling, things I’ve never considered. And some people are just worth it.

That day I went to the beach and out in town to this little bar called Opio. It was their last night open which really is a shame. I believe a new adventure is ahead for them so have a look if you’re interested in seeing what the guys are up to next.

My last full day in Hoi An was all about hanging out with Dan at the beach, having food, having a little nap and just chatting away. And it felt like paradise. I don’t remember the last time I was this relaxed.

(Please ignore the bags underneath my eyes, only 3 hours of sleep had been had at this point)

In the evening Leia, Dan and I had dinner, and chilled with the dogs. Honestly… paradise.

To Sue-Ellen and David. Thank you. Thank you so so much. I think sometimes we don’t realise how small gestures really change a person’s day and how much impact they can have, but they do. From sitting with me at the station and listening to my crazy stories to sharing the cab with me, I’m incredibly grateful. I hope your time in Hoi An has been just as perfect as mine.

To Laura, for being the best companion a girl could ask for. Thank you for the chats, the dinners and lunches, introducing me to coconut coffee, for not getting annoyed when I got us lost and for being the most calm presence. I love that we met and immediately managed to share so much and have comfortable silences. I’ll see you at some point in the UK.

To Leia…. not really sure I can put it into words. I’m sorry if my initial approach was a bit weird but I don’t regret one bit having started the random chat. From that first evening until our lunch today I can only be thankful for all the things you’ve shared with me and taught me. Thank you for also introducing me to your friends and inviting me for one of the best nights out I’ve had in the past month at Opio. Getting to know you, know a little bit about your family and a little bit about your life in Ireland really made me feel like I’ve known you for a while. It’s been a tough journey for the past few months and leaving your family in the past few days surely didn’t make it any easier. But Leia, you are an incredibly creative, independent and strong woman and I can only see the best things ahead for you. I can’t wait to hear all about your new teaching job in Hanoi and about your future adventures! I guess we both just need to accept those closed doors and get in all those new and unexpected ones 😉

To Dan…. mate! What a wave of good energy you are. I’ve always known that Kiwis are some of my favourite people and you have just reminded me of that. Thank you for being the most chilled person ever, for hanging out with me for hours and talking about everything! (Literally!). Thank you for allowing me to reminisce about New Zealand and reiterating over and over again that it is the best country I’ve ever been to. You’ve taught me that it is ok to just relax, sit at the beach and nap after my crazy night out. I want to hear all about your new flat and parties in Christchurch and I want to be kept in the loop about your Masters Degree! Your plans for the future sound amazing and I’ve got the feeling I will one day hear about this amazing new technique that a Kiwi psychologist is implementing in specific organisational contexts… it will involve stargazing and puppy adoration :p

A special mention to the incredible staff at “Under the Coconut Tree” hostel. To Thành and Turn for being the best at making us all feel at home. And to Chien…. the best cook ever! This hostel really puts all the best bits of a good holiday together. Amazing (and cheap!) food, 5min walk from the beach, incredible facilities and the best people. Thank you!

Honestly… Chien creates magic. I think it’s a combination of skill, knowledge and a hell lot of love for us, crazy travellers.

Last special mention… all the crazy puppies around that we all love so much

Published by Mariana Vieira da Rocha

"I think it's perfectly acceptable and rather admirable to be moderately delusional"

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