Day 35: Nha Trang to Hoi An
The bus inmates pile out of the cell-on-wheels as luggage is toppled onto the pavement in the early morning rain. Our motorbikes emerge from the vehicle’s underbelly looking a little shaken up and… empty? dehydrated?
“What about our gas?”
The driver shakes his head. An argument comprised mainly of waving hands and furrowed brows resumes. They’ve siphoned the gas from both our bikes for travel safety purposes, but don’t seem to find it any of their concern what we do with an empty tank. The redundancy of this tacit tiff becomes too obvious to continue and we are left with bitten tongues and, alas, gasless machines. There is enough petrol swilling around the bottom of my bike’s tank to start up, but Flo’s is dry as a drought in the Sahara. He peters off with my Honda on a hunt for a petrol station. I hide from the pouring rain beneath the bus station awning until he returns with water bottles full of sustenance for our parched bikes.
We paddle through traffic on our machines, ponchos billowing out behind us like sails. Pulling into a tall white building, we’re ushered into the foyer, dripping muddy water over the pristine floors. The cute lady at the desk takes us up endless staircases to a big room on the tippy top floor with white linens and big bathroom and a view over the river. This is the finest temporary home we’ve come across yet.
Then it’s omelettes, custom-made shoe orders, more food– rainy day stuff. Somehow hitting the gym gets tossed into that category; fluorescent blue light stains the bar bells and tinges my cold muscles as they revisit the tear-rest-tear pattern of lifting weights. Months of missed workouts use my neglected muscles as a vehicle to express their anger by cramping and burning. My tomorrow-body rues today already. Or does it?
Later, beneath the dried-up, starry sky, we stroll the twinkling streets of Hoi An, lanterns adorning the space between the river and the moon, dragons and phoenixes erected stonily above the river’s surface. Boats float on the waterway and the bar-lined streets sway with the fluidity of the booze-soaked people in them. We eat dinner on a patio down a quiet street, where we are joined by a puppy cute enough to lash-bat the last few bites off us. Then we collect raindrops in our hair all the way back to today’s home.
Day 36: Hoi An
Another breakfast dog helps us with our scrambled eggs in the morning. Then we pick up our completed custom-Made In Vietnam and Purchased In Vietnam shoes and spend the day yodeling Tina Turner o’er the building tops and the river boats.
The rain is less abrasive today, and our bikes call to us from below the balcony. ‘Joyride!’ It’s not a question. The road to Cua Dai Beach is a damp one. Water droplets get braver in size and the empty beach advertises prime spots on sheltered chaises.
We pretend the sun is shining as we sip canned beers and play some Vietnamese sport in the sand which is a cross between hackey sack and badminton. The wind wins this round. I wrestle with the wild stormy waves until admitting I will never win, and return, defeated, to the sand.
Sideways rain scooches us across the street to eat the fruits of the very ocean I battled not moments before. Live prawns and crabbies in bowls wait for death at the display inside the restaurant.
Guilt-inducing too-fresh stingray arrives at our table and when the last bite has been bitten, we head back to our top floor territory. I write words all over a blank surface until my eyelids lose their strength and flutter closed on crisp sheets.
Sunrise will bring us back to the road.