When talking with other travelers during my trip, they were most interested in whether I was travelling solo or with someone else. (It was a great relief from DC, where all anyone cares about is who I know.) Most people I would meet at hostels travelled in pairs. It was rare to find anyone travelling with more than one other person. Unsurprisingly, most of the people in the couple of hotels and resorts I stayed at were travelling with partners.
Certainly, there were other solo travelers I came across during my trip. Most of the other travelers I met through couchsurfing experiences were traveling alone. I guess, in the absence of a social partner, we solo travelers go out of our way to meet locals that can be temporary travel partners, along with experts.
24 October thru 4:57 am
There were only two other people staying the dorm room at Quan’s house, one girl and one guy. They were awake, but watching movies on their respective notebook computers. I did not talk to them that night, but I would learn the next day that the girl was Ukrainian. She had hitchhiked from Kiev to Ho Chi Minh City (avoiding Russia for geopolitical reasons) and was trying to find a job teaching English in the suburbs. She was gorgeous. The next day when I spoke with her, I think she made an effort to sound as unattractive to me as possible: She smoked; had a busted leg; refused to eat meat, dairy, or grain; did not drink; had an unhealthy dislike of Russians; and thought that 9/11 was an inside job.
The guy, I would learn, was Russian. He would play pick up basketball with locals in the city the next morning.
I wished Duy goodbye before he went to work. I would be gone before he returned from work. After some back and forth texting with Phuong, I arranged my schedule to meet her at 3 in the afternoon. I departed Duy’s apartment around noon. As I did, the lunchtime rush to afternoon classes at the University of Economics was in full swing. I had to wait in line to get a banh mi sandwich from a street vendor.
Duy’s place is not the best located place. It is in the city, but whether I wanted to go to the beach or downtown, I would need to either grab a taxi or walk for 30 minutes. I chose to walk, because, at this point, the sun was shining and I thought it would be cool to cross the Han River on foot. While I was in the center of the bridge, I attempted to take a photo of the dragon bridge. Remember, I warned you that I was a terrible photographer.
When I woke up, Lulu was staring at me. When she noticed I had awakened, she turned her head to the Peruvian-German, who was getting dressed for her morning departure from the guesthouse. Lulu looked sad. After a few minutes, Lulu found a small rug in the dorm room and peed on it.
Lulu is the guesthouse dog at Sac Lo.
Tuesday was slow in Hoi An, but Hoi An is a slow town. I had the first fitting for my suit and shirts at 11:30 am. I spent the morning reading and writing in the hostel, taking advantage of the free breakfast (it would be the only morning I spent on the banana pancake trail actually eating banana pancakes), and chatting with the other guests.
In the morning, a couple without a reservation tried to check into the hostel. They had been at Sunflower the night before and found the constant noise and partying unbearable and wanted to find someplace new.
I had booked my hostel in Hoi An the previous day using hostelbookers.com. The Californian had commented that a friend of hers had recommended the Sunflower Hotel, even despite the fact that her room had a rat in it. (Apparently, the hostel’s quick response impressed her.) She said it was the best place to meet other travelers in all of Vietnam. I looked it up and saw the positive reviews and low rate. Then, I looked at a map and discarded it from possibilities.
Instead, I booked a bed at Sac Lo hostel. If I am going to stay in Hoi An, I do not want to bike 5 kilometers from the beach to the ancient town. Sunflower is on the beach. Sac Lo is only a kilometer from the ancient town center.
I woke up around 7. Knowing that all five of my dormmates had planned to take the Four Island tour on this day, and three of them (the Californian and the two men who had tried to woo her the previous night) planned to take the 8:30 am Funky Monkey tour, I decided to keep the shower available to them. Instead, I stayed in my bed and surfed the internet. I should have taken the shower.
It was after 8:30 and still nobody had gotten up. EThe receptionist came into the room and forced the three hungover backpackers to get up and go on the tour. The fair-skinned Brit asked if they could skip it. The receptionist, in a typical Vietnamese response, said ‘no, you have to go’.