Three bus rides later and I had almost arrived in Tam Dao. All I had to do now was reach the top of the mountain. As I began to walk, a man with a motorbike approached me, offering to drive me for 100 dong. The travel agency suggested not to pay anything over 50. A school boy spotted me struggling to negotiate and came over to help. He explained to me that a ride would cost 100 dong. I told him that I would only pay 50 but the driver refused. So I thanked the 2 people and continued walking. They followed me. I believed that the driver would give in but I must have been wrong because the boy offered me a ride on his bike.
The boy told me to wait while he changed and dropped his things at home. Other’s on the street asked me if I was ok. I explained that I was waiting for a friend. I prayed that “friend” would come because no other motorbike drivers had passed and it was a very long way up that mountain, at least by foot. I was standing by myself on a dark street in Vietnam.
My face lit up. The boy had come.
Fuck! We’re gonna crash! I’m going to kill a sweet 19 year old because I didn’t want to pay $2.50. The bike swayed and swirved around the bends. It wobbled on the bumpy road. The boy told me that he didn’t have much experience driving a passenger. This was not the road to learn.
We reached the top and I thanked him profusely. I offered him dinner or a drink but he had to get back. His family had cooked dinner for him. We exchanged Facebook information so we could possibly meet the next day.
Now for the next obstacle: finding an affordable place to sleep. It was much more difficult than I’d anticipated! Tam Dao had no hostels of guest houses. The cheapest rooms were 500 dong! After begging 3 hotels for a room for 100, I decided to grab dinner. Everyone at the restaurant was eating delicious looking hot pots. I had to settle for the more affordable but still overpriced Pho.
Back to the room search. After asking more places, I was starting to find lower prices. But now I was determined. Finally, a man at the hotel told me that the place across the street had a room for 100d. I went and asked but they told me no. That rooms were 600d. I went back to the man that had told me about the 100d room and had him come with me. It worked! They offered me a room for 100d.
When I saw the room I knew why it was that price. The room had 2 large, wooden planks drilled to the walls. On these planks were foam mattresses and heavy blankets. All of the beds were touching. I wondered who else would be sleeping in here.
I threw on some warmer clothes. It was pretty chilly in the mountains. Then I set off to walk around the town.
There wasn’t much of a scene. Everyone was just eating. There was this 1 street food place that was filled with college aged looking Vietnamese. I ordered sticky rice in a bamboo rod and took a seat. I glanced around at the crowd. Most of the college students were paired off in couples. They were drinking beers and eating feasts. It looked like fun! The sticky rice was amazing! It was crispy on the outside and they gave me peanuts and salt to dip it in. It was 1 of my favorite foods in Nam.
I was exhausted after my day of travel so I headed back to my room. The room wasn’t heated but there was still nobody else in it and 12 blankets. I piled 3 on myself, started reading an article I’d downloaded on my pocket app, and drifted to sleep. The foam was so comfortable! It was the best sleep that I’d ever had in my life!
The next morning I awoke to construction going on right outside of my room. But it hadn’t woken me up.
I started my day off right with some more of that sticky rice. And an egg cooked in tin foil because protein, right? The town looked beautiful during the day!
Her and her boyfriend lived in Hanoi and were visiting Tam Dao for the weekend. Hue worked in communications. She seemed so relatable! I had so many questions to ask her about life in Hanoi since I was trying to make a life there myself. We spent the rest of the day conversing.
Later Hue posted on my FB wall
💌Sabrina, welcome to Vietnam, hope you have a great time in Vietnam, you give me the motivation to learn English, courage to make money and thought footsteps into Southeast Asia 💓b