Hoi An, Vietnam
Tried on my suit and it fits amazing. It was a little costly to send it home. I choose to go with air mail even though it was twice as much as sea. I bought two North Face bags for a total of 14 dollars. One is a smaller book bag which is a great day pack, and the other is a large backpackers bag, with a bunch of removable storage bags. We walked around the town and at night went out to a nice dinner. It was very fancy. Afterwards I walked to a carnival alone becuase everyone else wanted to go to bed. The carnival was the lantern festival that concluded on Tet (the New Years). They hade live music acts and a bunch of carnival games. The prizes for the games were as follows: water, orange fanta, red bull, beer, cigarettes. Mind you there was no age limit for these games. Also there were many booths that had gambling...you would bet on a picture and win money according to a big spinning wheel. I watched for a while and then played. I won several times and lost. In total I probably lost 25,000 Dong. It was a very cool thing to be part of a genuine Vietnamese carnival. I got stares from everyboHoi An, dy and was probably one of only 5 white people out of the 2000+ locals.
I went for a run the next day and went shopping a little. I explored the city some more. Went out to eat at a nice little place where I had a 5 or 6 course meal. I had a large beer and then split a 4 person bucket with Lyn. Then I got everybody to go back to the Carnival with me. We sat and watched everybody play bingo (or something close to it). It was interesting to watch because they were singing a song and picking the numbers and reading the numbers off and dancing...all apart of the bingo game. We went to a bar afterwards which was filled with backpackers. The bar was quite overpriced (about 2-4 dollars a cocktail). After the bar Carrie, Lyn, Kim, and myself, yeah three older girls ;), all got some alcahol at a kiosk on the way home. We mostly got rum and coke for dirt cheap...but I also got a pack of cream-o's. These are fake Oreo's and cost only 15 cents, compared to the 50 cents for the 'real deal'.
We drank along the hotel's pool and listened to music from my ipod. The pool was on the roof of the hotel and the atmosphere was perfect...
The next day we woke up early to go to Marble Mountain. I hiked up to the top where there were many bagodas. Along the base of the Mt. there were shops selling all types of marble goods. Typically they would be crafting and carving, but becuase of the New Years they were not doing so. In other countries things stay closed for ~3 days, but here (in a communist country) things can stay closed from 5-15 days. But the important things remain open. I wanted to get myself and my sister SHAWNIEB a marble tea set. They ranged from $10 to $50 dollars, and in the states would run much over 200 dollars. They were intricate and beautiful. Maybe I'll buy stuff later, becuase I just spent a crapload on my suit and sending that home (about what I budgeted for 10 days of travel).
In Hue, Vietnam we went for a tour of the Tuc Doc's summer home and tomb, an arena where tigers used to battle elephants, and a local crafts village. In this village they were making Vietnamese hats and insence. The insence was made my rolling this scnted cotton candy-like material around a wooden stick and allowing it to dry overnight. We got back with little time to shower and get ready for dinner. We ate at a local place, which was very cheap. I ordered whole squid w/ tomatos, vegetable sour soup, and a large 1.5 L bottle of water for only 56,000 Dong, or about $3.25. Afterwards the 3 or 4 of us 'party goers' went to a bar and had some driks and shot some pool. I left early and walked alone back to my hotel. I wanted to find some bao so continued down a long road. LONGER than I would have guessed. After I spend 40 minutes walking and no luck of bao, and not quite sure where my hotel was I got a cyclo and went back. They first two cyclo drivers wanted 100,000 dong and I refused and offered 8000. They looked pissed and drove away after realizing I would NOT budge. The third cyclo driver said fine, but repeatidly asked me if I wanted to buy marijuana on the entire ride home. Of course I refused. Today we are walking to the Citidel and on the way back stopping at a super market (at least that's what they call it). Here we're going to get some snacks for the sleeper train tonight. We depart Hue at 15:30 and don't arrive until early the next morning, so it will be a long crapy train ride. Cheers!
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Hoi An, Vietnam