Spending a night on a Vietnamese long haul bus is a strange sensation, you can't wait for the journey to end yet when it does it sort of takes you by surprise. The bus suddenly stops and before you're able to blink an eye your luggage is dumped outside and the driver shouts '...leave now, quick!!!'. I remember this feeling from my military service which leaves me wonder why did I pay for this bus journey?! Yeah, the soft westerner has spoken again. All the 'stress' is over within a few moments, when the warm sticky air kicked me in the face on leaving the bus. Is about 6am, we have arrived well ahead of schedule, so again I wonder what's the hurry? We step out towards Skybird Homestay, obviously with left foot as we get into each others hair right away. It has been decided that what is needed is a glass of delicious Vietnamese coffee. Sweet condensed milk with thick and strong coffee on rocks. After the coffee, both of us much happier, we've walked into Mr. Lac's homestay. He insists straight away to loose the 'mister' and call him Lac only, as we are family now... Straight after, a breakfast is served with another delicious ice coffee. In the afternoon we are suppose to meet Lagyo, a friend of mine who I knew for longer than I care to admit. He's on a business trip in the nearby city of Da Nang and was making his way to Hoi An to see us. But before that we had a whole day to kill and a natural choice after a difficult night on the bus came down to beach time. I've spent the whole day in the shadow of a beachbrella and burned my skin so bad, that by the time it was time to meet Lagyo, it hurt to wear my pants and t-shirt. But that wasn't going to stop me. We had some good time as one would expect when meeting an old buddy on the other side of this flying rock we call our planet earth.
Next day, partly because of a hangover and partly because it hurt to wear pants, I've spent resting in the shadow of our room. In the evening we have been invited to dine with Lac and his wife Chi. Their son Nya made it home too and so we had a family dinner of spring rolls traditional for Hoi An, followed by fruits, we have bought on the local market that Lac showed us earlier. He got us some sweet deal on water melon and beers there. It was by that dinner when Majka and I have decided to top our 4 night stay with another 2 nights. The following days we went to explore the old town, which has so much charm and character that we have topped up our stay by another extra 2 days, which has essentially doubled our stay in Hoi An to 8 nights. The extra days opened the opportunity to rent a motorbike and visit My Son, an ancient temple complex. On route to the complex we bumped into a genuinely nice Swiss couple, Pascaline and Olivier, trying to figure out directions the same way as us. We ended up spending the day together, sharing stories and coffees. Our second motorbike trip was towards Da Nang to return the favour to Lagyo an visit him in his place of business. Same day, before we got to Da Nang, we have squeezed in a visit to The Marble Mountains, another Buddhist complex of temples around and inside the caves of these mountains.
This relaxed, beautiful small town and its surroundings have so much to offer that after more than a week we've still felt that we could stay longer. Even after numerous visits of the old town, countless meals in the rustic market hall, bicycle tours around the town and the nearby villages I could still find attraction to all its corners. The cherry on the top was Lac's invitation to an engagement party in his mothers house. The happy couple was related to Lac through the bride to be, his niece. More obvious highlight was the beautiful beach, that had not too many tourists, but enough for the locals to offer beach beds, umbrellas, beers, coconuts, snacks and meals. ...even Christmas Cards, that were quite surreal to see out there even in the middle of November. On one of these lazy beach days, I've received the great news, that my friends, Adrika and Attila, have become parents to a beautiful daughter, Anabelle. With the great news I had the duty of carving Bibi's name, as she's being nicknamed by her parents, into a tree. Adrika and Attila asked me for this favour quite adventurously, as they plan to visit the random location we would be traveling at when their daughter comes to the world. Honestly, little Bibi couldn't have chosen a better place, so I've picked up a knife and carved a woman's name into a tree the first time in my life. A coconut tree it was, on a beautiful beach. I really hope you will enjoy this place as much as we did!