Vietnam

The driving in Hanoi was as chaotic as we remembered - red lights meant nothing to many drivers. Everyone drives at each other, quickly, and, somehow, most of the time, they miss. Road rules are like the Pirates’ Code – more your sort of guidelines.

Pedestrians have to walk on the road. Even more so than Indonesia, footpaths are for displaying one's wares and parking one's motorcycle.

In Hanoi, we sat at a table outside a small café and ordered glasses of wine and a serving of spring rolls. Our waitress offered to help us by taking the plastic wrap from our chopsticks. She promptly threw it in the street, one metre from us!

Hanoi market

After breakfast on our second full day in Hoi An, we began the "heritage walk" in the rain. As the rain eased, we stopped in a street that we hadn't yet walked down. As I fumbled in my backpack for the guide book, from behind us came "Hello. You want to try your coat?" The day before, and nearly 1km away, I'd ordered an overcoat in a different shop! Chance had brought me to the shop in which it was being made, just as it was readied for fitting.

River resort fabric market

Likewise, back at the Cloth Market, to collect some shirts, a girl materialised beside me. She had begged me to come to her shoe shop the day before. Helen ordered one pair and I ordered two.

In Vang Vieng (Laos) I completely tore the crutch out of a pair of shorts, while we were cycling. In Hoi An, I put them with some other washing. The next day, we took them to be repaired, along with some clothes that Helen wanted altered. The seamstress held up the shorts and said "What is wrong?" - the washing lady had obviously taken pity on me and repaired them!

The rain disappeared the next day. We hired bikes and cycled 5km to the beach, and then back, a longer route.

Japanese bridge Hoi An at night

We completed the heritage walk, collected clothes and shoes and then cycled a bit more. A sunset cruise down the river and back completed a lovely day.

Hoi An fish market Hoi An cruise

We had to change rooms at the Vinh Hung River Resort. An American family with a constantly-crying baby moved in beside us. Our preference was for them to move, but the staff wouldn't do it. We ended up with a nicer room for two nights'

With the rain disappearing, Helen wanted to go to the beach. We'd already cycled the 5km there, for a "reccy". For our first time, we hired an automatic motorbike. It was bigger, and heavier, than I expected, particularly with a passenger. We tootled off, very nervously, and left Hoi An on the wrong road. Eventually, we hit the main Da Nang road, ~5km north of where we should have, and made our way to the beach.

Cua Dai beach was lovely, with restaurants, each with its own lounges on the sand. The water was warm and clean, and the waves were just the right size for swimming or body surfing.

Hoi An sunset Hoi An motor bike

Getting out of Vietnam was disappointing. Without us knowing, our Jetstar flight from Da Nang was put back by 2 hours, and was then another hour late. The Noi Bai Airport Hotel, in Hanoi, was excrebable, and didn't have Helen's internet booking (which means we will probably pay twice). We didn't read the Air Asia fine print. It must be the only international carrier in the world that limits luggage to 15kg, resulting in a $40 excess baggage bill for us.

The airport itself seems quite modern, but the services were very much 3rd world.

Despite this (and the $90 visa) we'll probably return, because, once you clear the airport, Vietnam is wonderful.