Time to move on. We looked at the options for moving south to Hoi An. It was either back on the Reunification Express, coach or take a private car. It’s more expensive taking a car, but supposedly you can stop where you want en route. That sounded better and we had heard that the road, hugging the coastline down to Da Nang and Hoi An was pretty spectacular (plus we’d seen clips of the road on the Top Gear special, and it really did look spectacular). Our driver was Peter Chinh who came highly recommended and the journey was to take about 4 hours including stops.
It’s very hard to do justice to the journey, it passed in a cinematic blur of wild country, vivid colours, dramatic sea and characters, all framed by the windows on either side of our hired, air-conned car. I don’t remember us saying very much.
The countryside; dense and green interspersed with dusty tracks running off at right angles from the road into the jungle, spiky plots of aloe vera and then gaps filled with jaw-dropping views out to a deep, azure sea and tall, white clouds.
The characters; the souvenir sellers mobbing us whenever we stopped, one of the most beautiful, sultry, lascivious looking woman I have ever seen, dressed in the traditional white silk ao dai, leaning back on a chair, head back laughing, inside a road side cafe, the tourists posing on bombed- out US fire stations dressed in “I love Vietnam” tee shirts.
By the way Mr Chinh was an excellent driver, guide and generally good guy. If you’re ever trying to get between Hue and Hoi An drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also keep your eyes peeled, about 45 minutes out of Hue on your right, there’s this cafe.