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.