After a late night last night because of the men’s Olympic Hockey Semis I got up a little later this morning – 9:30.
It’s crazy that I now consider that waking up late as in my normal life I’m rarely up before noon.
The free breakfast they serve here at the hostel ends at 10am and I managed to go down the stairs literally right as it was ending.
Of course everything was gone so all I had was potatoes and bread – oh, yay… starch breakfast – blah!
Anna and I had planned to do separate things today. She was going shopping for clothes and I was going to hang back in the hostel and figure out just what in the hell I was going to do here in Hoi An and also for the next little while in the south of Vietnam.
Sure she goes shopping and I do the busy work – hmph, just like a relationship. I’m kidding, I’m kidding…
With planning for Vietnam I’ve been given so much info from different people and alot of it conflicts with each other. People tell me I have to go to a certain place and then other people tell me not to bother.
I like to take everything in and just kind of find a middle that I feel works for me. With this upcoming part though I was having a tough time figuring out to tackle it.
I knew I was going to go to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) at the very south of the country but it was a question of how or if I was going to also visit Mui Ne and Dalat which are in between here and there.
To get to Mui Ne and Dalat you can either take a 12 hour bus or train ride or fly into Dalat airport. The flight was a little too expensive and the prospect of a long overnight trip really didn’t tickle me the right way either.
So there I sat – stressing out over it. What to do? What to do?
And then in a brief moment of clarity I decided to just go straight to HCMC. Half an hour later I had a flight booked and a hostel reserved. Done!
I then on a whim decided to look up how long it would take to get to Dalat and Mui Ne coming from HCMC instead. Turns out it’s only about 5 or 6 hours to each stop.
A light bulb popped on in my head and the wheels started turning…
I’m sure my mom is gonna hate to hear this but I really, really, REALLY want to ride a motorbike. Not just on the back with someone driving but on one by myself.
And that’s what I’m gonna do!
Once in HCMC I’m going to rent a bike for a few days and take off to Dalat and Mui Ne before coming back to HCMC.
To say I’m excited about it would be a huge understatement – I can’t wait to get there!
Still a couple of days in Hoi An though…
Which brings me to today…
Once I finally had that stressful indecision taken away from me I wanted to get the hell out of the hostel and see the city again.
This time it was beautiful and sunny out. I actually had to don the sunglasses I hadn’t worn since leaving the Philippines over a week ago.
I rented a bicycle from the lady in front of the hostel for 20,000 dong ($1) for the day and I was off. It’s amazing how much easier it is to explore the city on a bike as opposed to walking.
I haven’t actually ridden a bike in quite a few years but you know the saying…
Since it was 1pm, my first stop was a little hole in the wall restaurant where I had Pho (noodles, veggies, herbs and some meat in a broth). Just the right kind of light meal to have for lunch.
After lunch I rode by a little shack posing as a barber shop and went inside. There were 2 chairs setup and an old man greeted me and sat me down.
For the first time in my life I got the full treatment – not only a haircut but also a full-on shave and something I had never heard about before – an ear cleaning.
The haircut of course was normal and the shave was too, although I was a bit worried every time he took that sharp razor blade to my neck.
The ear cleaning though – well, that was a new one. He spent a good 5 minutes on each one stuffing a variety of long sticks with different things on them into my ears.
I couldn’t actually see them but the sounds I heard when he was in there kind of made me think they were little razors or picks attached to the sticks.
I paid my 140,000 dong ($7) and went back out into the bright sunshiny afternoon.
Since I had the bicycle I decided I would trek the 4km over to the beach. I hadn’t really planned it out though and when I arrived I had no blanket and my regular shoes and socks.
I made the best of it and just went barefoot and planted my butt in the sand. I just sat there for a good half hour just watching the waves roll in.
It was a beautiful sight to be sure and as 5pm approached I headed back to the hostel.
It was here on my ride back that I had my epiphany. Maybe it was the weather or the fact that I just came from sitting on the beach but my mind was thinking more clearly than it had for awhile.
You see my mindset has been when I travel to a new city or country that I should do everything there is to do there and if I don’t I feel like the visit was incomplete in some way.
This has caused immense stress on my travels as I try to, first of all, figure out what to do in that particular city but also how to go about doing it all.
That’s how I felt here in Hoi An. I knew there were things to do here but I had no idea how to go about doing them and it felt like my head was going to explode when I couldn’t figure it out.
But the truth is – seeing everything and doing everything is not what the trip should be about. It’s about the people you meet along the way and the unique experiences you happen upon.
A year from now when someone asks me about Hue, for example, I’m not going to be talking about the tombs, temples and citadel I visited.
No, I’m going to be talking about the amazing people I met by happenstance and the fantastic experience I had at the Lac Thien restaurant that one night.
In fact, looking back at my Euro Trip from last year I can barely recall all the different churches, castles and monuments I visited but I still remember vividly the people I met along the way and the truly unique things that happened that make up great stories to tell.
So, there you have it – my epiphany.
When I returned to the hostel just before 6pm I met up with Anna for the first time since the morning. The last time she saw me she could see the gears working in my head and the stress that went along with it.
Now, though, I was a changed man. At ease with everything. Decisions had been made and my mind was clear.
To my delight Anna is also going to join me on this next leg down to HCMC, Dalat and Mui Ne and I couldn’t be happier. She is a great girl with a good head on her shoulders and a great travel partner. We think about alot of things very similarly so we kind of click in that sense.
For dinner we walked up to the area of town we stumbled upon the other day with alot of outdoor hole in the wall type restaurants that only the locals really frequent.
I had beef and vegetable “wrap it yourself” spring rolls and Anna had the same meal I had had for lunch.
Once again a really fresh and wonderful meal. We definitely agree that this is the way to eat. I feel so good every time I leave the table at one of these little places.
After dinner we walked a little and then I remembered the girl at the front desk had mentioned something about a night market happened every night.
We crossed a bridge and there it was – dozens of booths set up in the middle of the street.
We couldn’t resist the Bang Mi stand and each had a sandwich even though we had literally just finished dinner less than an hour ago.
Sadly pretty much every booth was offering up the same cheap ass souvenir trinkets but I did happen upon a lady selling unique art on the sidewalk.
It was painted rocks in the shape of animals glued onto canvases. I just stood there and stared at them. The price was only 100,000 dong ($5) but that wasn’t the stumbling block.
What do I do with this art once I buy it? Do I lug it around for 4 months in my backpack? It would definitely be damaged by the time I got home.
I sadly walked away even though I really wanted to purchase one.
And then I turned around…
Screw it! I’ll just mail it home…
I bought a couple of cat pictures (of course). One is for me, one is for my mom.
They are quite possibly the cutest pieces of art I’ve ever seen. Of course I’m a sucker for little animals so there’s that.
We returned back to hostel around 10pm and settled in for the night while everyone else in the hostel, it seemed, was getting ready to go out and party.
Me, I’m content with where I’m at. I had a great day and I feel like the rest of the trip will be that much better now because of that profound epiphany I had while riding a bicycle…