We’ve come to Hoi An during the rainy season, so it seems silly to be surprised that it rains every day, sometimes all day. Yet I have been surprised, and a little distressed. When every time I look at the forecast, rain is projected for either 9 or 10 of the next 10 days, I get Seattle flashbacks.
However, the temperature remains warm and at least things aren’t flooding. Our house is spacious, so even when we can’t go out, we have our separate corners. The boys are taking full advantage of having their own rooms and I’m impressed at how messy they can get them, given our extremely limited possessions. I’ve been reading for hours at a time and that is exactly one of the things I dreamed of being able to do on this trip.
The rain has slowed us down, but hasn’t stopped us. We bought bicycles and are putting them to good use. We ride just about everywhere, and have mostly gotten the hang of navigating the chaos of traffic here. It’s pretty straightforward. It doesn’t matter whether you are obeying traffic laws, or even driving on the right side of the road, the size of your vehicle dictates the right of way. So, those of us on bikes cede to everyone except pedestrians. If a truck laden with rebar is slowly but certainly running a red light and turning left from the right lane, initiate evasive maneuvers. If it’s mid-afternoon on a Sunday, and you see lots of young men leaving a wedding on their scooters, stay way back because they are very likely very drunk. If a pedestrian is being clueless and walks into your path, ring your bell and don’t run over them. And try not to hit any water buffalo.
Someone wrote that it’s a lot safer to pay attention to what’s in front of you and hope for the best about what’s behind, and that seems to work out here.
We live right across the bridge from the Ba Le Market, so just about everything we need, from fresh-baked baguettes to bungee cords, is a 3 minute bicycle ride away. For anything we can’t get here in Hoi An, we can get to Da Nang in 30 minutes (by car), where the Mega Market is Vietnam’s Costco – membership card and all. Our first week here we got a ride with My, who speaks English, and who cleverly put his number in my phones as “My Driver,” so whenever we go to Da Nang I just call “My Driver” and he even waits while we shop.
Our house doesn’t have an address. None of the small streets around us even have a name, as far as we know (or, more importantly, as far as Google Maps knows). The closest landmark on the map is the “Place de la Concorde”, which is a small roundabout at the end of the nearest car-sized road.
This is not a problem generally, but makes getting deliveries a bit of an adventure. Kyle ordered some new power cables from Lazada, cash on delivery (they still do that here!), but with no address we had to rely on them to call us when they were in the neighborhood so we could guide them to the house. Given our nonexistent Vietnamese and the 3 minute warning they give you that they’re nearby, this did not go smoothly. The first couple of attempts failed and when I got the third call, we were on our way back from lunch. We saw the the scooter delivery guy leave our road so I chased him on my bicycle, frantically waving at him until he stopped, only to find out that our kind Belgian neighbor had paid for and accepted the package on our behalf. We let the startled scooter guy go, and resolved to find a better delivery solution.
We aren’t doing much cooking at home, since dinner for four ranges from $5, for big bowls of pho at the market to a whopping $22, when we splurge on delivery from our favorite Indian place, Ganesh. Our otherwise fully-equipped kitchen doesn’t have an oven, so that’s another excuse. However, with the abundance of bananas, mangoes, pineapples, dragonfruit, and dozens of other tropical fruits at the market, Kyle has become a smoothie master.
“Settling down” here has been nice, yet I’m already itching to move around again. Luckily, we leave in less than two weeks to meet up with friends for a few days on Ha Long Bay, then we’re off to the Philippines for a week. I’ve been promised that the rains should be over by the time we get back. I’ll believe it when I see it.