We spent two days traveling from Qui Nhon to Hoi An and got to drive small and calm countryside roads once again on this route. We spent some memorable time while having breaks next to rice fields and fishing villages and drinking beer with some local dudes at the roadside. After driving several days non-stop, we spent three days in Hoi An that is an old city full of ambient lanterns but also tourists.
Day 1: Qui Nhon – Duc Pho
We left Qui Nhon a bit too late (as it tends to happen quite often) because of chasing internet to the phone and packing. We continued driving on small roads and got to notice during the day that roads that look decent on Google maps are not necessarily that…. The beginning of the trip was just bare sand dune landscape. There were big construction sites in the desert and it looked like they were building a whole city in the middle of nowhere. This is a quite common sight in Vietnam and always makes us think how different those places will look like in ten years.
Because of all the bustle in the morning we had skipped breakfast so we stopped to have morning rice in the first village that we passed. These kinds of 80-cent rice meals have become a regular breakfast for us on the road. It’s tasty, cheap and keeps the hunger away until late afternoon!
At some point, we got lost and headed to a wrong road. Soon we found ourselves on a small village street in the middle of rice fields. This didn’t bother us though as we got to see even more authentic countryside view. We stopped by at a sugar cane juice stall next to a rice field. While driving in the heat we consume lots of liquids and still we are thirsty all the time. Sugar cane juice is a great drink because it comes with salt and also contains minerals and other good stuff. One glass costs ridiculous 20 cents. The juice vendors were understandably confused about foreigners that appeared in their village just like that. They were talking about us furiously even though we couldn’t understand anything about the conversation.
We decided to keep driving next to the coast but regretted our decision after we realized that the road turned to a narrow and bumpy sand road after one village. We almost turned back but then decided to look a bit forward. After a while, the asphalt started again and then we had a winding and narrow but even road in front of us. In Vietnam you cannot trust Google maps blindly. Sometimes a big looking road turns out to be just a small path. Driving on this kind of roads is much more exciting and rewarding (and safer) than staying on the highway.
We found a nice rest place in a small fishing village and stopped by for coffees in a cafe next to the beach. In the countryside most of the cafe are just regular people’s houses that have a cafe sign on the wall. There were two guys living in this small house and they kindly welcomed us. They even let us take a nap in the hammock on their terrace. The atmosphere in Vietnam is so easy-going and relaxed!
We were supposed to reach Quang Ngai city by the evening. When we stopped to eat 50 kilometers before it in a smaller town called Duc Pho, sittin on the motorbike was getting painful and driving more didn’t sound that attractive. We decided to ask the price in the next hotel we see and spotted one after just a few minutes. After bargaining a bit we got an air-conditioned room for $7 so we decided to stop driving and just relax there. There were only 150 kilometers left from Duc Pho to Hoi An so we could make that easily the next day.
Jarkko had to prove his manhood by gulping down several pints of beer at one sip. At some point, our drunk host managed to slice his thumb with a knife and the atmosphere started to be quite tired so we finally had the chance to sneak away.
We visited the nearby supermarket (real markets are quite rare in Vietnam apart from biggest cities!) and had a dinner. Our plan was to relax in the bed for the rest of the evening and watch a movie. Right before we got back to the hotel, a group of men drinking beer started to shout and wave to us and asked to join them. We didn’t have any reason to say no so we stopped by to talk with them. They offered us all kinds of food and snacks and put beer glasses in our hands. The glass was filled again after every sip. It wouldn’t be easy to get away from this situation…
The men barely spoke any English but we still tried to keep up the conversation and toasted all the time. Jarkko had to prove his manhood by gulping down several pints of beer at one sip. At some point, our drunk host managed to slice his thumb with a knife and the atmosphere started to be quite tired so we finally had the chance to sneak away. Two hours passed just like that but we did have fun! In Vietnam it’s common that the guys gather to drink beer whereas the women stay at home and take care of the family. They consume beer with such a quick pace that the evening is normally over before 10 PM. In the morning they just drink strong coffee to survive from a new work day.
Day 2: Duc Pho – Hoi An
This time we forced ourselves to get up early, already at six. The last section to Hoi An was just highway and there was not much to see on the way. Highway 1 was so dusty and dirty that we had to stop and buy masks to keep most of the dust out from our lungs.
We reached Hoi An already around noon and could devote the rest of the day for relaxing. We had booked us a party hostel called Sunflower hotel that was equipped with a swimming pool and free drinks during the happy hour. It was nice to meet up with other travelers after exploring the countryside for a while!
The hostel turned out to be a flop though as we realized soon that most of the people were 18-years old backpackers and the place reminded us of a school trip. Our roommate passed out in the bathroom in the night and we had to knock the door for a long while when we wanted to use the bathroom… Also the free happy hour turned out to be just one free drink so we left the hostel quite quickly and headed to the town center.
We changed our accommodation to a small homestay that was hundred times more cozy and comfortable in every aspect! The place offered free bicycle rental so we went to cruise around Hoi An old town. The temperature was closer to 40 degrees so it’s wasn’t cold while bicycling. We also stumbled across a few backpacker guys already for a third time so we went out and had dinner together. We also visited the beautiful beaches and lazed on the sun chairs on the almost empty beach.
Most travelers love Hoi An but to be honest, the city left us cold despite its beauty. Every place was full of tourists and that’s why also the prices were higher than what we had got used to in the countryside. After three days we were definitely ready to leave Hoi An and head to Da Nang where our new volunteering place was waiting for us. Da Nang turned out to be our favorite city, you can read more about that here!
You get to read all our motorbiking stories under the motorbiking tag.