Never again will I underestimate the power of a change of clothes and a good, hot meal. Eight hours shy of exactly one week, I finally changed clothes. Jenn and I looked road weary and haggard -- the majority of our meals this week consisted of ritz crackers with peanut butter and we hadn't slept in a real bed for the better part of the week.
From Hanoi to Hoi An is 900 km --or a little more than 400 miles. We left at 6:30 p.m. one day and didn't arrive until 2 p.m. the next (we did have a two-hour stop in Hue). Our bus was a sleeper, which meant there were top and bottom "beds" that didn't quite lay all the way flat. In order to fit more beds on the bus, they designed it so your feet go into a covered compartment that slants so that the bed in front of you overlaps. Without the guard for your legs, the person in front of you would lay their head on your knees. It's an interesting contraption that's tricky to explain.. Regardless, we were thankful for our petite stature because anyone who is taller than 5'8" and wider than normal wouldn't be able to fit.
The ride was rickety and bumpy and each time I tried to look out of the front window all that I could see was a pothole-laden road with no discernible lines and traffic coming head-on. I've come to realize that Americans must be the worst drivers in the world given our loyalty to rigid traffic laws. Even though the rest of the world is a lot more chaotic, people are more, hmm...engaged, as they drive. Yes, I think engaged is an appropriate word. It's certainly suicidal to text and drive here.
I faded in and out of restless sleep and was elated to finally get off of the bus. Only one more overnight bus to go.
After arriving in Hoi An, we changed clothes, showered and ran off to a tailor shop. This tiny little town is famous for its custom-made clothes, and shop after shop of wool coats, men's suits, dresses, and trousers line the narrow streets. We chose a tailor based on the discount we got from our hostel, and we will each be getting two dresses and a pair of highrise shorts at 3 p.m. today. Despite our exhaustion, we perked up when we looked at book after book of magazine cutouts and department store catalogs to choose our styles. The tailors thankfully gave us advice as to which colors and patterns to choose -- it's funny how 24 hours on a sleeper bus can hamper judgment.
Once our clothes were sent to the seamstress, we headed off to Good Morning, Vietnam, an Italian restaurant that Jenn's friend praised. The chef is from Italy and the food was the best western-style meal I've had since coming to Asia. They had regional dishes that few Italian restaurants in the United States have and all of the pasta was homemade.
The ambiance of the restaurant was inviting -- it's the kind of place that easily prompts accidental three-hour dinners. I ate gli spaghetti amatriciana and Jenn had penne arrabiata (yes, the menu was even in Italian). After days of processed, prepackaged carbs and bland, mushy rice dishes, it was hard not to smile.
I'm off to retrieve my laundry... six days of public transit and dirty cities finally is getting cleaned out of my nasty clothes. Thank God.