21 October

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.

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20 October

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.

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19 October

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’.

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Ain’t Nothin’ But a Mistake

18 October

I had booked the Funky Monkey Four Island tour suggested by Snow. She said it had received positive reviews from other guests. I did not read the entire brochure she had given me, but what I did read made it sound like a unique experience. A bus was scheduled to pick me and two other guests staying at Mojzo Inn up at 8:30 am. I awoke with plenty of time to take advantage of the free breakfast offered by the cafe located on the top floor of the hostel.

The other two guests probably should never have gone. Continue Reading


17 October

My alarm went off at 6:15 am. All of VASCO’s flights back to the mainland were scheduled for the morning, and I had selected one of the earlier options. The early departure (8:10 am) would provide me ample time to transfer to the train station to grab my ticket and board my 12:05 depature for Nha Trang.

I hit snooze and woke up 10 minutes later. Thus began the most needlessly expensive day of my trip.

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16 October

In the end, the language barrier proved too difficult to overcome. I would receive a phone call from Len or Nga and show up at the place where we had been the previous night, but not see anyone. Len would text me, but his messages were mostly indecipherable even with my Google translate app. None of the guys had smartphones, which I found odd for young Vietnamese who could afford to visit Con Dao, so I could not snap a photo of where I was.

Until this point, I had survived without a Lonely Planet guide. Hell, I had not so much as seen anyone holding a guide. The only hostel I had thusfar stayed at was on Ko Phagnan and everyone there seemed to know exactly what their plan was for their stay. But, in hindsight, I should have used a printed guide for Con Dao.

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15 October

My flight to Con Dao was supposed to depart shortly before 10 am. I checked out of the Mi Linh hotel with more than ample time. As I walked to the airport, a man with a motorbike — I don’t even think he was a Xe Om driver by trade, just an opportunist — asked me where I was going and said he could get me to the domestic terminal for only 20,000 dong. I felt that was fair and agreed. He practiced his English asking me the typical questions and said “I hope to see you again” as I got off the motorbike in front of the terminal.

The domestic terminal at Tan Son Nhat was undergoing some significant construction, so the Vietnam Airlines check-in counters were separated from the budget airlines check-in counters, and it requires a walk outside on the side of the drop-off zone off the sidewalk in order to walk from one to the other. I had booked my flight through Vietnam Airlines’ web portal, so I started there, but was directed to the other domestic check-in area when they learned of my destination.

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