Sunday, December 19, 2004

We are here (Hoi An) (finally posted) 

And what is the most popular thing to do in this town? Shop and buy clothes. Dresses for $15, suits for $20. Everywhere. A good deal they say. A pain in the ass I say.

That's not important (the computer next to me has 'The Fast and The Furious' on. Interesting). What is important, or at least interesting, is a retelling of our voyage here. Please keep in mind: Rachelle lies. If you get her emails and they don't agree with this story it's because she is lying. I swear.

It took us 3 tries (got stood up twice by our tour type bus. Told us "we didn't have the hotel info". Yeah right) but this morning we got us on a van (minibus) to bring us the 2-3 hours up here. When we boarded, only a couple other folks were on. We knew that would change. And it did. At its peak, we were 5 wide in all rows. Now for more detail on how these things work.

Some people like us get on early, when the van begins its journey. That's easy. As it rolls, 2 guys working the door hang out the slider and yell at people as we pass by, trying to convince people to ride with us. Sometimes it works, sometimes they need more persuasion. I saw many scared faces that ended up getting in the van. It's more like this: have you seen the movie Old School? There is a sequence where the guys go around gathering up their frat pledge class in an old van. They grab them unawares and toss them on, they chase them down scattering garbage cans and bikes and peds....it's chaos. That's how this van works. People'd be walknig down the street, the van would slow and the doors guys would jump out and haggle with anyone, whether they appeared to need a ride or not. Often times they'd decide to join in the fun (looking a bit nervous). If they tried to get away, they 'd get hauled in anyway. Sometimes the unwilling managed to jump back out, but these door guys were good and usually barred the way for at least a couple towns. Little old ladies were jumping in and scampering up the stacks of grain bags to perch atop with a view of the goings-on. Their most impressive acquisition was a girl on a bike. Innocently riding by, she somehow didn't hear the blaring horn and incessant shouting. One guy skittered onto the roof while the other snagged her in such a way that he got her bike to pop up. He deflected it to the guy on the roof who tied it down then flipped back into the van (yes, we were moving at this time). It was insane. Fun though. When they tossed the 5th person into our row I opened the side window full (I was on the end) and positioned myself so that my left foot was on the seat, my right was on the ladder to the roof, my ass on the door frame. It was great! I was whoopin' and hollerin' and doing my part in trying to convince people to join our fun (no one fell for it. They speak Vietnamese, I speak my own version of english.).

You may be wondering how fast said van traveled. Well, it varied. In town we'd troll along between 10 and 15mph, slowing minutely when tossing people on or off. Between towns...whoa. I swear we were hitting at least mach 2. And yes, even the tiniest bugs hurt like hell when you hit them going that fast. I ended the trip half covered with bugs. Yuck.

As we neared what they claimed was Hoi An (ok, they didn't claim anything. They started making their overtures of hastening our departure from the van), I was oblivious. Which is why I ended up being blindsided when they gave me a stiff shove out the window onto the dusty street. Still dazed and confused, my bags followed suit. As they landed atop me, I again cursed myself for buying so many books. Rachelle, meanwhile, was scampering around the inside of the van in an effort to leave of her own accord. Didn't happen. They cornered her (with the help of a little old lady with a cane who cackled maniacally the entire time) and tossed her out. I began laughing but was cut off when the van roared away, coating me with dust and exhaust.

No, it didn't drop us in town but ~10km away. Rachelle beat 2 moto drivers about the head until they agreed to her price and we took off. Fully loading down the motos. It was fine though, I only felt the rear tire slip out a little around one corner. And the truck heading our way had at least a foot to spare when it passed us. Finally, we got to our hotel. 5 hours after leaving Quang Ngai and after 2 unsuccessful attempts. What a feeling! Toyota!

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Name: Corey
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I'm on a journey with no destination. The path is constantly changing direction but there are always adventures to be had. "Never" and "always" have left my lexicon.

WWW http:/www.jimspeak.blogspot.com