A Travellerspoint blog

Oops

The journey to Hue and the return to Saigon

Last time we wrote, we had just endured a 13 hour bus ride with the last 3/4 lacking any escape to the bathroom. We bumped and rattled over strange back roads along the coast with sleeping locals packing the aisles. We were dropped off in Hoi An and quickly checked into a hotel where we dropped of our bags and searched for the 10 cent beers we had been hearing about. We spent our time in Hoi An learning how to stuff and cook a squid, exploring the My Son temples, drinking dollars worth of 10 cent beer, and wandering the ancient lanes and alleys that led to the Thu Bon River. The river was lined with fish markets and wooden boats as well as countless silk clothing stores and exotic fruit stands. After spending 2 nights in Hoi An we continued north on a 4 hour ostrich ride to Hue, the old Capital of Vietnam. The journey to Hue was beautiful. The landscape looked mystical as we drove past crashing waves lined by fog covered mountains surrounded by thick jungles and rice paddies. We arrived in Hue and were ushered into a hotel and settled for a room with a great view and a balcony for $10. We braved the cold Hue weather (about 65 degrees) and walked past an outdoor market to find some Pho. We drank beer and coffee with a man named Phong before getting a bottle of wine and heading to the Karaoke bar where we were offered a private room which we politely declined. We strolled through Hue and found a restaurant where we got to watch them cut the rice noodles right into our soup. The next morning we decided that instead of heading up to the Bach Ma National Park we would book flights from Da Nang (a couple hours south of Hue) back to Saigon to spend the last few days of our time on beaches rather than in the rain. We made the most of our time in Hue and walked to the Perfume river and discovered the old Imperial City. Back at the hotel we were about to post a blog before we realized that we had not changed the time and date on the computer from Pacific Standard Time to the local time and that our flight was in about 4 hours, oops. We rushed to pack everything up and got a taxi to the airport in Da Nang. The taxi ride was full of great views, mixed drinks, and roadside bathroom breaks. We made it to the airport in time and the 1 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh brought us to 90 degree weather and backpacker's alley. Once again, Ho Chi Minh was high energy and eye opening. Our taxi dropped us off in backpacker's alley, which was full of tourists, bars, street vendors, and cute dogs, and we struggled to cross the busy street to find a hotel. We sampled some drinks at a Mexican restaurant and moved to drinking 30 cent beers in plastic chairs on the street with hundreds of people while eating fresh BBQ cuttlefish from a grill within hands reach. After a late night we woke up and started our trip to Vung Tau, about an hour and a half from Saigon by hydrofoil (a speed boat with airplane-like seating). The boat sped down the Saigon river past massive cargo ships and the lush Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve. We are staying at the Sunshine Hotel which is vacant except for the two of us and we have had a private pool overlooking the Pacific which we only leave if we choose to go motorbiking to different beaches, swim in the warm ocean, or eat squid fried rice.

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Posted by paigejohn 01:02 Archived in Vietnam Comments (3)

Nha treezy to Hoi An

At first glance, Nha Trang seemed more like Miami than an authentic Vietnamese beach town. Driving past the high rise five star hotels and bars blasting club music, our expectations of Vietnam's premier beach escape lowered drastically. Once we escaped the invasion of American hotels and music we discovered noisy streets offering delicious steaming Pho, intricately decorated fishing boats, mountains rising out of the sea surrounding a serene ocean vista, an ancient Buddhist temple, and the most authentic Sheraton Resort we have ever come across. The scenery was impossible to capture despite how hard we tried, and our expectations that were previously lowered were more than satisfied as we escaped the touristy area and stepped into a Vietnam that was both real and surreal. From glamorous 30 story hotels to homes constructed from tin roofs and old wooden walls that fronted hand built boats, Nha Trang had the most dichotomy of any city we had ever seen. After exploring for a day, we decided to continue moving North and took a 13 hour bus up to Hoi An. We are currently in Hoi An and will post pictures from here as soon as we can.
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Posted by paigejohn 23:48 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Ostrich Riding 101

Remember the memory card

Sorry about our post from Saigon, the video didn't upload to the blog but the link to the youtube video is here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGEE5KzFn48

Our trip from Saigon to Mui Ne was by sleeper bus, and we were the only ones who spoke English. The driver reserved one hand for smoking and the other for laying on the horn. We would pick up passengers while in motion on the highway, and the views were phenomenal. We were dropped off on the side of the road and luckily found a taxi who took us through Phan Thiet and into Mui Ne. Arriving in Mui Ne was a relief as we walked the sandy beach and felt the warm water off the Vietnamese coast. We spent our time in Mui Ne sampling local beers and fruits, eating food from small stands occupied by local school children, swimming and body surfing in the idyllic ocean surrounded by palm trees. The second day we took a private jeep to hike up a river, ride ostriches, sled down red sand dunes, take in an beautiful fishing village, and take a country road out to more sand dunes where a certified black belt monkey tried to start some shit with Paige. Mui Ne offered luxury resorts as well as back alleys where chickens and cows grazed the lush fields near the sea. We are writing this from our hotel room in Nha Trang where we arrived today also by sleeper bus, where we learned how to pee in a plastic bag on the back of a bus while catching air going over the bumpy Vietnamese back roads. The scenery was incredible and we are ready to keep heading north. More pictures will come soon!

Posted by paigejohn 08:26 Archived in Vietnam Comments (16)

Mui Ne

The First Stop Up the Coast

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Posted by paigejohn 19:08 Comments (0)

Saigon

Taxiing from Tan Son Nhat Airport in Saigon to our hotel in the Go Vap District of the city was short but visceral. The scooter gangs seemed to run the streets and their well coordinated movements allowed little room for error. Around 11:00 PM local time on a Thursday night the city was more than buzzing as we drove past countless open air markets, restaurants, vendors, and bars.

Posted by paigejohn 14:32 Archived in Vietnam Comments (3)

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