Goodbye Vietnam
in Hoi An, Vietnam on 28th March, 2012


I decided to spend my last few days in Vietnam on the beach in Hoi An and cycling around with Vanessa and Dagmar, two Bavarian girls I'd befriended on an overnight cruise in Halong Bay. I had arrived a few hours before they did and set about cycling around town. I had been in Hoi An the previous week but with all the drinking and laying about on the beach, I'd completely missed the Old Town. This was like exploring a completely different town. Imagine visiting Paris for the first time and not seeing the Eiffel Tower nor being aware of it's existence.

When the girls arrived I was in a good position to show them around and they really seemed to enjoy it. We had a lovely dinner sat next to the river looking out at the bridge covered in colourful lanterns. Afterword we went to a bar which had shesha pipes and Formula 1 up on several TV screens. There was a small TV behind the bar with what looked to be porn showing. I turned my chair as I knew I'd be distracted right out of the conversation with the girls. After a few minutes we realised it was in fact Fashion TV. We smoked the pipe away while chatting and taking photos of one another together.

The next day the girls and I rented some bikes and headed for the beach. We found a spot with palm trees casting a shadow. Vanessa laid in the sun while Dagmar and I laid in the shade. I had picked up some beers along the bike ride down and began working on them as we laid there all afternoon.

We ate some local food on the beach that evening and then cycled back into town. Along the way I snapped some of the better sunset shots I've managed to snap this whole trip. In the evening Vanessa and I had a quiet beer on the riverbanks before finding a bar with outdoor seating. We spent the evening chatting away.

The next day the sun had disappeared. We ended up booking a day trip for the following day and then spent the day cycling around town. We found an old fishing boat and climbed all over it, discovered a ton of side streets, played with some hopefully-not-stray dogs and generally snapped photos of ourselves enjoying the day. By the late afternoon Dagmar wasn't keen on the weather and headed back into town. Vanessa and I had found a coffee shop which was owned by an Australian woman. I was really eager to find a cup of coffee like the kind they sell in Europe. Luckily this was exactly what I found.

The two girls and I took the evening off from one another. I took the opportunity to take some night shots of the old town and to eat some cheap and local street food next to the river. After I finished my photography I hit a new shesha bar I'd come across.

I sat in a chair next to a pretty French girl who was on her laptop. My pipe came and I took a hit. The smoke blew in her direction. I apologised but she said not to worry. She was a smoker herself and loved the smell. I was keen to pick her up that night but two things happened at once. Her Skype rang and she answered it, breaking into French and on the other side of me appeared a blonde, 21-year-old Australian girl asking if the shesha was nice.

I handed her the hose and told her to give it a go. She liked it and in the background her sister appeared. They sat at a table next to me, ordered a pipe and we got to chatting. Before I knew it we were sat at the same table getting deep into conversation. It wasn't long before we covered the bill and headed two shops down to a bar.

The girls had been drinking since lunch. I had drank a beer at dinner and was still sober. We ordered cocktails and before I knew it the young blonde was tipping the bottom of my glass up to get me to down the drink in one.

We'd gone through eight cocktails between us in a short space of time. The young girl went off to the loo at one point and her sister stayed behind. Her sister told me she wanted to hook us up together. When the girl returned her sister went off. I just looked into the her eyes for a few seconds, felt my heart beat and just went in and kissed her. I could feel her chest beating as the kissing intensified. Her sister returned from the loo unsure of what to say. We asked her to go back to the loo again and she did.

When her sister came back the second time she settled the bill for all but one of the drinks. I went up to pay for the last drink. When I returned they offered to let me stay with them at their hotel that night. I put my jacket around the girl and the three of us made off to their hotel.

These girls were on a short holiday and were staying in a really nice hotel. The bathroom was bigger than the room in my hotel. The girl's sister asked me not to look as she got changed and crawled into her bed. I undressed and got into the other bed. Then the girl came out of the bathroom in a silk, black nightie. My heart pounded and I felt this nervous drop of tension in my body as she crawled into the bed.

We had agreed to not do anything that night. Her sister was in the room and the two girls had jet lag. The girl said she'd taken two sleeping pills as she came close to me. I put my arm around her under the covers and we dozed off.

I was awoken around two in the morning. The girl had gotten up and went to the bathroom. She returned and said in a kind voice "I can't sleep with someone in my bed. Do you mind if you go back to your hotel?".

I was in a state of disbelief. Her sister must have been awoken as well because she said suddenly "Don't listen to her! You can stay till your taxi in the morning". Her sister then stated that I was kind enough to walk them home and it was really rude to make such a request. I didn't say anything other than "sure". I got dressed, left and spent 35 minutes in the middle of the night walking back to my hotel.

The next morning I woke up exhausted. I got ready and was picked up by the day trip bus. Two minutes later the bus stopped and Vanessa and Dagmar's hostel and they got on. They sat right by me. Vanessa asked a series of questions, to all of which I answered "Yes". "Did you go smoke a shesha last night? Did you go drinking last night? You met a girl? You hooked up with her?"

I then proceeded to explain what happened and asked her advise. She said she'd be offended if a guy did that to her. The girl from the previous night only knew my first name. I thought it best to not get in contact with her again.

I had returned to the same shesha bar the following two nights. There was a Vietnamese girl named Bo who prepared the shesha pipes. On the first night she sat next to me watching me smoke. I passed the pipe to let her take a hit. She then asked what became of the girls I'd met the previous night. Sometimes I felt like a clone of all the white tourists in Vietnam; not distinctive in anyway. I didn't realise how observant and interested the locals were of us.

Bo ended up being really friendly and open. It was nice to meet a local who wanted nothing more than to chat and make a friend. Without being prompted she would frequently come sit next to me and make sure the pipe was as good as it could be by cleaning and replenishing the coals. We chatted a lot the last two nights. I took some photos of her with my phone and emailed them to her.

Vietnam has a way of detecting when someone isn't as happy as they could and should be. That's when the real charm of this country comes to life. I'll miss Hoi An.

The next day I headed for Da Nang Airport. In the duty free I tried to find some shoes but they didn't have any big enough for my size ten feet. I was expecting to see Vanessa and Dagmar as they had a flight around the same time as me. Instead I saw the two Australian girls sat waiting for a flight.

I walked past ignoring them. I was hungry but I didn't want to walk past them again in search of a restaurant. My flight boarded and I was the second person on the aircraft. As I sat in my chair relaxing the two Australian girls boarded the plane and sat ten rows in front of me.

When we landed I exited out of the back of the aircraft to avoid them but there was a single bus taking us to our baggage area. As I got off the bus I could see them in the corner of my eye. I hit the gents as soon as I got in the building and that was a the last I saw of them. Some things weren't meant to be.


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