It was the morning of Christmas Eve Eve and I was just waking up, as usual it took a few moments to establish where I actually was, we rarely stay in the same place for more than a few days and beds all kind of blur into one big smelly mattress. I found myself in the bottom bunk of a six-bedroom dormitory in Hoi An. We had arrived late the previous evening on a flight from Ho Chi Minh city.
Suddenly, I heard something familiar. Something brilliant. Something that told me to get up immediately as it was going to be a superb day.
It was ENGLISH, being spoken properly. Being spoken in the way the inventor of English hoped and dreamed it would be spoken… with a Yorkshire accent!
“You gals coming fur brukfust? S'a buffet n it's raight good.”
A BUFFET? An all you can eat breakfast BUFFET? AND Yorkshire people? In the same building? It was like Christmas had arrived early.
We spent the day with our new friends, Rachel and Stacey, cycling around the extremely charming and quaintly atmospheric town of Hoi An. We ventured down to the riverside, admiring shops selling colourful lanterns and tailor made clothes, enjoying several beers and a few hot chocolates along the way.
Hoi An is a delightful stop for people travelling up, or down, Vietnam, hire a bicycle for the day for a dollar and explore the vibrant, bustling streets and sandy beach. Skilled tailors will make you a high quality, made-to measure suit for as little as £70 or dresses, skirts, jackets, anything-you-want, can be put together to your design/requirements. Also, don't forget to pop to the market to try a Banh Mi ($1) and a 'Fresh beer' (30p – that's cheaper than bottled water!).
That afternoon we were privileged enough to be able to attend the wedding of Katie's big brother, Drew, and her now sister-in-law, Jo, via Skype. It was a beautiful wedding. Afterwards, I had to help Katie drink a full bottle of Captain Morgans rum to make her feel better about not being there.
Christmas Eve was a busy day. We had the hugely demanding task of finding cheese for our Christmas cheese board in a country that doesn't seem to have invented it yet… and you thought your Christmas shopping was difficult! In the evening, we had a night out with the people from our hostel to a club called, Volcano.
Stacey and Katie went to request a song and the laid back Vietnamese DJ let them take over for the evening while he went to drink beer. Why doesn't this ever happen in England?
When it was time to leave we found ourselves in a situation where there weren't enough mopeds for people. Katie and Stacey climbed on to the back of the last one (in case you didn't know three adults fit on a moped easily) and I looked around wondering what to do. An enterprising taxi driver quadrupled his normal price on seeing our predicament…
Just then, out of the darkness of the early Christmas morning, cycled a very attractive man on a white bicycle (no word of a lie… I repeat: attractive man, white bicycle). On the back, where a saddle-bag might have been, was an empty cushioned seat with, might I add, foot rests,
“Anyone need a lift home?”
Women from miles around suddenly appeared from all directions throwing themselves off the back of mopeds screaming, “Me! Me!” But, unfortunately for them, I was too quick.
And so, on Christmas morning I found myself, in Vietnam, sitting on the back of a bicycle that was following behind a slowly driving moped (with a very Merry Katie clinging on the back), singing Christmas carols …
When we arrived back at the hostel, we all tucked in to our Christmas cheeseboard, only we didn't actually have a board, so it was more like a Christmas cheesefloor.
We awoke filled with excitement in the later hours of the morning, but sadly, Santa hadn't been; Katie said it was because my walking socks were too smelly…
Fortunately however, we did do a secret Santa for $3 each instead!
Curtesy of my very kind father, we were able to afford a magnificent Christmas dinner that consisted of neither rice nor noodles. Al and Naomi our two amazing friends that we met in Phnom Penh and who feel almost like family now, came too. It was 6 courses and we all left feeling suitably stuffed.
To finish off an unusual, but surprisingly wonderful Christmas, we set off lanterns by the riverside and went to a Vietnamese Christmas concert.
With much love, Laura x