We got off the bus at Hue. It was the last stop– we would have to change buses here that would take us all the way to Hoi An.
We were dropped off in front of a hostel. I reached into my backpack for my ticket, and realized I didn’t have it. I thought maybe I wouldn’t need it since I didn’t need it for the first bus, but I asked the hostel staff anyway just in case.
The lady looked at me like I was crazy and said I need the ticket or I won’t be able to get on the next bus.
I hurried back to the street and asked the bus attendant to let me back on the bus to look for my ticket, but he didn’t understand me and kept saying a new bus was coming and to wait at the hostel.
I realized he wasn’t going to let me back on, so I asked another lady working at the hostel to help me communicate with him.
She didn’t really understand me either, yelled at me for losing the ticket, and told me I wouldn’t be able to get to Hoi An with out it.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bus door close and then disappear down the street. There goes my ticket.
Panicked and feeling helpless, I almost started to cry.
After a few minutes of feeling sorry for myself, I walked over to the lady again and asked her to please help me figure out what to do. She issued me a new ticket: It only cost $5, so it wasn’t as horrible a mistake as I had assumed. She sure did give me grief for it, though.
We waited another hour and a half for the new bus to come.
When I handed the bus attendant my ticket, he asked me when I bought it. I told him today, and he told me to wait on the side while everyone else climbed onto the bus.
Once everyone else was on, he told me and one other girl the bus was at capacity. We wouldn’t be able to take this one; we’d have to wait until the next bus at 1 pm.
I was infuriated.
“No. I actually bought my ticket two days ago, but I lost my ticket on the first bus so this is just a new ticket. There should be a seat for me on this bus.”
I told him sternly.
The guy told me there were already too many people sitting in the aisles, and that the police would catch them if they added two more.
I saw a bunch of people sitting on the left aisle, but none on the right, so I asked if we could sit on the right side. He told me no, and I asked why.
“Too many people. No.”
“What’s the difference between them and us??!?”
I was so annoyed and frustrated. It’s just two more people. There were already people sitting illegally.
The driver and attendant contemplated for a good couple minutes. I stood there, fuming, wondering what on earth they could be thinking about so intensely.
Eventually, I don’t know why, but they agreed to let us on.
Me and the other girl sat in the aisle. It was complete BS because we paid for a full ticket, but whatever. I didn’t want to wait another 4 hours for the next bus.
I’m pretty sure everyone on the bus thought I was a total asshole because I was the only one yelling at the bus attendant— the other girl was no help at all— and the whole bus could here me. Oh well, I got what I wanted and I think if I hadn’t done that, we would still be waiting at the hostel for the next bus.
About 10 minutes later, a guy came up to me and said we had to change buses because there were too many people on this one.
I and about five others who were also sitting in the aisles were let off at the side of the highway.
Thankfully, the bus people waited outside with us and about 5 minutes later another bus came along and let us on. I made sure to be the first one on to the bus in order to maximize my chances of getting an actual seat.
It worked! I got a seat, but the other five were back to sitting in the aisles. Very bizarre… changing buses seemed to be completely pointless.
We finally got to Hoi An around 2 pm. I got a Grab bike to my hostel and got changed.
It’s hot enough here (and liberal enough) that I can wear shorts again! Something I hadn’t done since I was in Thailand back in January.
I got lunch at Karma Waters. I ordered a spicy vegetable salad, which was pretty good but not very filling.
I walked around town for a bit. It was really pretty with all its old-looking buildings, small streets, bridges, and markets, but it was also very touristy– the most touristy town I’ve seen in Vietnam yet.
I saw SO much fruit-printed stuff— collared shirts, t-shirts, bucket hats, caps, pants, rompers… the list goes on. I got a yellow-watermelon printed baseball hat for 80,000 dong ($3.50). Pretty good deal I think.
I crossed the bridge to Randy’s Book Exchange, a small bookstore ran by an old white guy named Randy. It’s basically his house that he made into a bookstore— the front of the first floor and all of the second floor are filled with books, and in the back is his office, bedroom, and kitchen.
I met another Murakami fan while browsing around. He was telling his friends he couldn’t find any Murakami books, and I told him I was looking for Murakami too. We then bonded over our love for the quirky but mega-talented author.
I found a random place on a side street with them. I sat down, ordered the coconut, and asked for the Wifi password. The waitress clicked on the “An Hy Vegetarian” network, and I suddenly realized I had just accidentally stumbled upon a vegetarian restaurant. I love when serendipitous stuff like that happens! It makes me feel like my vibes are aligned with the world or something. Even though it’s probably just a random coincidence.
I went to meet with two girls I had met in Cat Ba, Maria and Rebeca, who had also just arrived in Hoi An.
We walked around town together and then went to happy hour. They were advertising “fresh beer” for 5,000 dong ($0.20), so of course we had to try it. It turned out that the “fresh beer” came from a plastic bottle. It wasn’t too bad though— it just tasted like any other lager.
Rebeca and I (the single ones) started swiping on tinder just for laughs.
I matched with some people and started talking to this one guy, let’s call him Amir, who was in town for the night.
After 2 plastic bottles of beer we got dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Hola Taco. The interior reminded me of Chipotle, but they had a regular menu. I got a black bean rice bowl (basically a burrito bowl), and it was pretty good but a bit expensive for Vietnam standards (100,000 dong, which is $4.50).
Maria and Rebeca went home and I met up with Amir at a bar.
I walked over to the table, we hugged and introduced ourselves, and I asked him what he was drinking.
He told me was drinking a SMOOTHIE (because he was “on a detox”). I felt weird ordering a drink when he wasn’t drinking, so I got a smoothie too.
We chatted for a while and got to know each other. He’s a Canadian with Persian background, lives in Danang, and does photography/cinematography for work. He was in Hoi An just for the day for a shoot. The conversation was a bit slow at first, but it got a lot better as time went on and warmed up to each other a bit.
As we were sitting and talking, I realized how many accents I was hearing around me. One of the things I really like about travel is seeing/hearing people with accents from all over the world speaking to each other: British, German, Italian, etc. It’s really fascinating to constantly be surrounded by such a melting pot of cultures, and it amazes me that so many people speak English so well.
After the bar we went to the night market. He got a banh mi, asked me if I wanted one, and I politely declined since all the fillings were meat-based. He asked if I was vegan, and I affirmed. He told me he actually already had a hunch that I was, since I had asked for no milk or sugar in my smoothie at the bar.
He was cool about it though, and told me he really respects vegans.
He took me home on his motorbike. We got lost for a bit, but it was nice just riding around the empty streets of Hoi An.
We hugged goodbye. My first tinder date abroad was nice!! Honestly it was better than expected, but also a bit strange. After so many months of meeting guys at hostels, it was weird to be in the whole tinder-sphere again. We still talked about similar things that I talk about with other travelers, like where we’re from and how long we’ve been traveling, but the tone of the night was different. Maybe it was just me, but there was that extra dating-app-date layer of expectation regarding potential chemistry, sexual tension, and compatibility, and a mystery of where the night would lead.