Another storm is headed our way in Hoi An this weekend and let me tell you it is no picnic. At this very moment water is a metre (39") deep in the riverside and Ancient Town areas.
The rains from up country have filled the river with a muddy soup which backs up the street and sewage drain systems making life a living hell. Water also fills the ground floor of many homes.
This comes from a computer powered from a generator and connected via satellite InterNet - there are massive blackouts and you forget your normal communication links. Land line, cell and InterNet is severely interrupted.
I was recently in Hue during a flood. When it rains in the mountains a water surge courses down the Perfume River and when it nears central Hue the first area affected is Ben Nghe Street and Nguyen Tri Phuong Street intersection.
Central Hue, where tourist services are located, is essentially an island with the Perfume River filling moderate rivers on all other sides of the 'island' with muddy water which then overflows on to the land.
On the south side of Hue, the An Cuu district, a bridge carrying traffic from the south and the airport disappears under the water, along with the market area and nearby residential districts.
To the north, the Dip Da dam, complete with its road is under 5 feet of rushing water, effectively isolates northern Hue access and the Huong Giang Hotel parking lot is lost to water as water laps at the car parks light standards. At the other northern access, the bridge at Ba Trieu approaches are also under several feet of this sewage filled mess.
Over on the Citadel side the Dong Ba market surrenders to the inflow of water which goes inland for several kilometres all along the rivers edge. Parts of the Citadel where tourists customarily range are also covered with water. Shops close, beer production stops and the silence is broken by numerous small generators that are running to protect the contents of freezers.
The water supply integrity is threatened and boiling is even more of a necessity.
Some hotels are best accessed by boat - one INTO its front lobby. Taxi drivers give up and even a full sized bus couldn't make it along Ben Nghe where the new Camellia is fasting taking shape.
And what of the tourists? The foolish venture out at their peril as they don't know the risky parts. Others hang around hotels bemoaning their interrupted travel plans and, quite honestly, the normally affable inhabitants of Hoi An and Hue have other pressing matters on their minds.
Laundry facilities cease to function and the damp tourists find few places where they can really dry off. Food services are curtailed.
Presently the death toll in Hoi An region numbers in the thirties with one unaccounted for.
These conditions are no joke. The storm expected Friday will make everyone's life worse and I suggest, even though these places are part of he essential VietNam experience, this is no time to be in this part of the country.
Flooding persists yet further north where Highway 1A travels en route to Ha Noi. Not even those crazy open tour bus drivers are foolish enough to travel at their normal reckless speeds which lengthens this journey by many hours.
This weather regime extends through to December so please come prepared.
I personally have recently lost a computer to rain notwithstanding the fact it was inside a sealed plastic bag and this was in a second sealed bag. The unit I am using to post this is a ruggedised version which is much more reliable but at 7 times the cost! Allegedly waterproof watches and electronics mist up as the Vietnamese rain permeates the equipment and camera equipment fares little better.
This is the perspective of a European who has lived here for 15 years and every time the experience is surprising and alarming.
Travel safe and check that weather before leaving Nha Trang or Ha Noi. And spare a thought for all those who are stuck living in these areas who suffer from these storms on an annual basis and more so for those families who have lost loved ones.
#1 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53
CatBa1's computer succumbed to the rain - along with his password manager! If you want you might e-mail me my old password. Thanks.
#3 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53
CatBa - Thanks for your info. My Viet Nam itinerary included a few days in Hue & Hoi An from 12/3 to 12/08. I guess I have to revise my trip. Maybe will spend more time in the north.
I am sad for the people who live there.
#4 VanVan has been a member since 11/9/2007. Posts: 9
Don't be too hasty in your change of plans.
Storm surges in Hue disappear in 3-4 days and Hoi An a little longer.
The end of November **usually** brings an end to the seasonal storms as the move further north into China.
The key to travel in ANY part of VietNam is flexibility - and avoiding making hard and fast reservations for your whole trip.
The hardest part is making reservations trains that you know you can use whereas the terrible open tour bus (Sinh is the safest) is the most flexible.
Hotels are achievable with ease although choice is limited in HCMC and Ha Noi if no reservation is made.
This said, get daily updates from your hotels front desk so you if there is a calm you can get that couple of days in Hoi An. You can 'do' Hue in 2 days and one night.
The buses from Ha Noi hit Hue around 07.00 and from Hoi An at 12.00H and 18.00H. Either of the early buses give you enough time to get in a half day Citadel / tombs / city tour (omitting the cruise and included lunch).
Confirm you bus to either Ha Noi or Hoi An at the evening after your tour.
Then you can wander around the city on your second day taking the 13.00H bus to Hoi An or the 17.00H bus to Ha Noi.
The best way to Ha Noi is by rail - booked when you are in Hoi An.
So keep an eye on those storms - they all originate in the Philippines so you have a few days warning.
#5 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53
Hi There, couldyou please advise to the situation in Danang, as I have a trip planned fot 10th Nov 2007, and will be staying at Sandy beach Hotel, would it be prudent to delay the trip.
#6 mimimon has been a member since 7/11/2007. Posts: 3
CatBa - Thanks so much for your helpful advice. It is my dream to glimpse Viet Nam in five weeks. I don't want to miss Hoi An & Hue at all.
I'll definitely keep an eye on the storms and will have our plan flexible. We'll be in Ha Noi the third week of November. How do I keep an eye on the storms while in Ha Noi? TV? Newspapers? How can I access internet in Ha Noi?
#7 VanVan has been a member since 11/9/2007. Posts: 9
Presently the Da Nang weather is FOGGY and 26C.
Thu Nov 8 - 25°|20°Cloudy; Fri Nov 9 - 24°|20°Cloudy; Sat Nov 10 - 24°|22°T'Storms; Sun Nov 11 - 25°|22°T'Storms; Mon Nov 12 -25°|21°T'Storms; Tue Nov 13 - 24°|21°Showers; Wed Nov 14 - 24°|20°Cloudy; Thu Nov 15 - 23°|21°M/Cloudy.
Bus offices usually know what is going on as it affects their business.
InterNet is available in the newer part of town where the elevation is slightly higher than at the river - the InterNet on Hai Ba trung street should be good by now as it is fed there by fibre optic cable and the interface boxes are about 16 feet above the ground which means the water won't kill them.
If you haven't made Ha Noi yet you will find all sorts of open WiFi around in cafes and hotels as well as InterNet cafes.
AVOID the Lucky Eden/Ha Noi Budget/Love Planet 1 & 2 (all the same hotel), as well as VENUS (we only want to sell you tours at inlated prices); Ha Noi Blue Sky (we want short stays, sell tours and the rooms are filthy with rats playing in the 'dining room' overnight), also the Ha Noi Riverside.
Green Bamboo has closed and is now merged with Youth Hotel.
The better areas to stay, where a couple of more USD$ will get you a quantum improvement in accomodation standards, are BA DINH (immediately north of the Old Quarter) and SOUTHWEST HOAN KIEM LAKE.
Most taxi drivers are crooks so ONLY USE MAI LINH, DELUXE and VN TAXI. Noi Bai taxies have no meters.
Never tell anyone where you are staying if travelling from the airport, just take the VietNam Airlines Shuttle (USD$2) and ask for Hoan Kiem Lake. ONLY tell the driver where you are staying AFTER CROSSING THE RED RIVER - this denies them an opportunity to organise the hotel switch scam.
Most travel agents in Ha Noi are crooks - APT is GOOD - avoid Sinh (52 knock offs), Vega, Fansipan and Tonkin Travel (I'm white mate, I won't rip you off - ha, ha).
#8 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53
Looks like i will not be able to leave the hotel, to visit Hue or Hoi An, is it flooding in Danang right now?
#9 mimimon has been a member since 7/11/2007. Posts: 3
No, Da Nang is fine as far as flooding is concerned.
Last year's damage still scars the city with sandbags holding down corrugated roofs and other damage showing evidence of what happened last year.
Hoi An is OK in the newer section; Hue is slightly flooded.
Unless you are flying your OpenTour bus will have to negotiate Highway 1 through all these destinations and, in fact, you will be forced to change buses at certain towns.
The main thing is attitude. If your attitude is that you are having a new experience you will have little trouble handling the challenges.
Invest in garbage bags and packing tape (2" wide type) and then you can pack your goodies in daily chunks (i.e. change of pants, socks, shirt) so you need open up only one at a time.
Cover your backpack with a cheap raincoat so as to protect it from soaking rain.
This is a new experience for many, just approach each situation with an open mind. Even Hoi An is worth a day with rain and Hue is well worth any discomforts.
At least the water is warm!
#10 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53
guys, one other piece of advice. With the current weather situation, if you can,bring all bags onto the bus with you as we got a bus last week from Hai An to Na Trang and our luggage got destoyed with flood water.
#11 ionaman has been a member since 21/10/2007. Posts: 12
Yours is a VERY good tip - but subject to the drivers consent.
I frequently buy an extra seat for my baggage on buses - then you can have peace of mind.
#12 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53