Friday, October 9, 2009

27th to 1st October - Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City

So, we arrived in Hue a little jaded and in need of rest. The usual greeters were at the bus station waiting for us when we got off. We squinted into the bright early morning sunshine that was an all too distant friend for the remainder of our stay there.

"Mr... you need hotel.... mine best in Hue..."

"Mr, $20 double room... very nice..." etc etc...

We surveyed our options and found someone who agreed to transport us to the hotel area without a guarantee we would stay in his hotel. We spent the morning walking between two hotels until we got them down to something ridiculous like $8 a room....

We then had a kip before heading out into the big bad world that is Hue...

From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


It was a cool place but rained too much for us to really enjoy it. We spent the day walking around the old quarter and I saw a woman with a bag full of scorpions...

From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


We walked past a game of football where the were using a very unconventional utensil as the goal post... Gone are the days of jumpers for goal posts...

From Hue and Hoi An


A few Hanoi beers later and we were ready to head back to the hotel to freshen up... We went out for dinner that night and then caught up with Lena (who Tal and I had met in Sapa) that evening over a few frames of pool. We also met up with Paul and Anne who we met in Halong Bay and Dennis and Nadia. It was a good night.

From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


The next day we caught the bus to Hoi An... it was to be some trip thanks to a big storm named Ketsana (a Laos name for a plant I believe) and a lot of rain water.....

The bus to Hoi An left at 2pm.. The heavens opened again and the wind picked up considerably.

From Hue and Hoi An


The journey down gave us a taste of what was to come. Half of the way down I called my mum and she told me that we should be careful because of a typhoon heading to Vietnam...

"Nonsense....," I said.... "It's heading to the north of us... We'll be fine Mum... Don't worry..."

Oh foolish bravado....

Almost as soon as I put the phone down, the wind picked up and the rain came down with a real purpose It was blowing at about 80 or 90 km/h. Tin roofs were being lifted off shops and we passed a tanker ship beached about 20 metres from the main ocean road..... It was pretty crazy...

From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


We got to Hoi An in torrential rain and quickly established ourselves in a hotel... It was quite soon after that we became aware of just how much fear there was around the town about the typhoon that was heading our way...

The wind died down a little and the rain calmed too so we headed out for dinner and some drinks... As soon as we left the hotel... the storm picked up.. we went to a restaurant that was recommended by the hotel just around the corner but the power had gone out so it was closed. So we jumped into a cab and asked the taxi driver to take us to a nice restaurant.

He really picked up on the word nice and took us to a very posh hotel where we settled down to a nice meal which cost an arm and a leg.... The food was amazing though in fairness....

We headed to find a bar and found one open called Before and Now. Very cool place. Dennis, Nadia, Lena and I chipped in for a bottle of gin and some tonics. We were enjoying the night when the barman came over and told us we should start heading back to our hotel. The wind had picked up yet more and a typhoon was on its way... at that point we were given the impression it was going to hit in a few hours.

We managed to find a taxi and got back to the hotel complete with half a bottle of gin and some more tonics... It was good that we did have that because the night was pretty scary and a couple of gin and tonics settled the nerves. The wind really got up to over 100 km/h and we had to amuse ourselves in the dark with no power on.

We finally got to sleep at about 4am, drunk and oblivious...

The next morning the wind was still picking up and the power was still out. The hotel staff did the best they could to provide breakfast for us with no electricity.

We managed to get the generator hooked up to try and find out what was happening online. I called a few people and thanks to Grace and Tara at work, managed to find out the latest news. The typhoon was set to hit at 1pm and it was coming straight for us. The destruction that we could see through the window was pretty hectic. Trees were down, debris flying all over the place but for some bizarre reason... people were still walking up and down the road as well as cruising around on mopeds... Insane... these are the people that make up the death toll statistics... i'm sure of it...

1pm arrived and the internet provided a few answers to our many questions. It was supposed to be heading for Hue which is where we left and then Danang which is where the beached tanker was... The wind picked up to 130 or 140 km/h...

All we could do was watch out of the window.. all of the guests of the hotel trying their hardest to just get through it and not to panic... I offered my phone to people to call loved ones to reassure them that they were ok.... Emails went out with the same messages...

It was a time for everyone to keep their heads and I have to say that we all got through it very well. Of course there was some fear. I was scared having never been through anything like this but being one of the older people there I felt a real sense of duty to make sure the younger ones had high spirits and remained calm...

Then the wind died down which was a blessing and we decided to go out to survey the damage... Oh my.... debris, torn down trees, smashed up ATMs and lots of rain water greeted us.

From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


The road next to ours was flooded... so was the road outside the bar we were at the night before. In fact, so much so that a boat was sailing down it.... Crazy...

From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


The rain came again and we headed back. It just wasn't safe to be outside. That evening all we could do was wait. You see, the thing about a typhoon is that the wind is bad, but the real problem is when the rain water has nowhere to go and in a place with a poor drainage system, this problem is multiplied...

Our hotel had run out of food.. This created another concern... Next door was still serving food though so we braved the rain and had a really crappy meal... so needed in the circumstances however... We then went to the shop on the corner and grabbed some provisions... dried noodles, peanuts, water... whatever could help us to sustain ourselves for what we thought might be a couple of days in a hotel..

The night was really scary... the rain water was rising and the street was completely flooded. You could see it in the eyes of the staff that the hotel would flood... it was just a case of how much... It was a waiting game... Lena and Tal helped the staff to move some furniture. I lent a hand as well but they really pitched in. We met a girl from NZ called Shay and offered her sanctuary in our room as hers was on the ground floor...

I, somehow, managed to get some sleep... I heard a commotion about two or three hours later and went to the stairs to see what had happened. The water had breached the reception area... it was bad news...

From Hue and Hoi An


All we could do was wait now... It wasn't a particularly peaceful night as you can imagine. The next morning about 7am I went downstairs and the water was easily above waist height in reception. People were swimming across the road because of the depth... It was a crazy situation. Some idiots were out in the water having a ball.... again more statistics for such a disaster... I only hope they didn't get any diseases that were quite obviously in the water...

From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


We needed food... I volunteered to take a boat to get enough for us all for two days.... It was weird seeing a boat come into the reception area. It was too big to get into the small doors though so I had to walk on chairs like stilts through the water to open the double doors.... God what was I doing I thought at the time... i'm not usually this cavalier.

From Hue and Hoi An


From Hue and Hoi An


I got into the boat with a list of things to get and headed to the dry area of the town. It was surprisingly normal. Almost like nothing had happened. I got the necessary food and headed back to the hotel to continue the waiting game...

Throughout the morning we surveyed the water levels using bricks on a nearby wall to gauge the depth of the water. It was just getting higher and higher. When it reached about shoulder height in the reception area we arrived at a decision to make a break for it and decided to get the hell out of dodge... We found out from the staff that we could get to Danang airport and get south from there.

We left the hotel using boats in our reception area again. We found a minivan that agreed to take us to Danang airport, all the while praying that we could fly out that day especially as we heard that a second typhoon was heading our way... and potentially a tsunami caused by an earthquake in Tonga...

We were in luck... To our delight, a few hours later we were on a flight to Ho Chi Minh City... It was the best feeling in the world...

I'll never forget Hoi An but for all the wrong reasons unfortunately....

We decided to travel to a small island called Phu Quoc for a few days away from storms and floods to relax..... We stayed overnight in Ho Chi Minh City (which is very nice by the way apart from the prostitutes pulling up next to you on motorbikes asking if you'd like boom boom for 1 hour....)... The next day we flew to Phu Quoc....

No comments:

Post a Comment