A Travellerspoint blog

Hoi An

Shopping heaven

sunny 28 °C

I have never been anywhere on earth where there is so much shopping fun to have. After my bike marathon through the highlands I was ready to sit back and chill in Hoi An, but oh no, far too busy for that.

Whilst walking around town on the first day I noticed that every shop was either a souvenir shop, a gallery or a cloth shop - interesting. I met the 2 English girls that I had seen in Nha Trang and they happily informed me that yes, I had died and gone to shopping heaven and must immediately get my purse out and spend like a crazy woman. And who was I to argue?

So started 3 days of choosing, measuring, trying and buying. Being a sensible girl I said to myself that there was really no point having a lot of nice suits or anything made as I wouldn't need them on my travels and I wouldn't be home for another 11 months. So, in the end, all I had made was 2 suits (jacket, trousers and skirt), 1 cord jacket, 2 pairs of cord trousers, 1 pair of nice black trousers, 2 pairs of travel trousers, 1 smart black coat and various odds and sods. Very restrained of me I think! And it was all sooooooo cheap. I've posted it all back home so praying that it gets there and that I don't put on an ounce of weight during the rest of my travels.

The evenings were spent eating in one of the numerous lovely restaurants and watching the Full Moon Celebrations down by the river. Lots of singing and dancing and merriment. One thing that I found very strange though was that, when the show finished, not ONE person clapped. They all just turned away and went home...

As a World Heritage sight Hoi An is very pretty with some lovely architecture but as I was too busy shopping I didn't take any photos so bought some postcards instead!

Posted by J9travels 17:29 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Central Highlands

Sore buttocks

semi-overcast 25 °C

So, I was chilling in Nha Trang at the beach when some nutter on a motorbike comes up to me and asks if I fancy paying him $140 for him to take me on a 4 day tour of the Central Highlands and then dropping me off in Hoi An. My response, obviously, was AWESOME IDEA, LET'S GO!!

So, Monday morning, this dude straps my rather large backpack onto the back of his bike and off we go.

Day 1 - we travel to Lak Lake, stopping off at various points to see interesting sights and take photos. Most people in the Highlands are Minority people, not Vietnamese, they come from all over SE Asia and have their own languages and their own way of life and they are mostly very poor. We stayed in a Minority Village by the Lake in a Long House - a wooden house on stilts which was just one long room. Danh (my guide) cooked venison on a little mini bar b que, which was nice!

Day 2 - no sleep at all as the dogs and the chickens and the people did not shut up ALL night!! We set off early for Bon Me Tuon, driving through Gia Nghia. We stopped a lot to drink really strong coffee or sugar cane (which is relly nice!). We went to see a few waterfalls and then went swimming in this little creek that he knew about, him in his undies, luckily I'd though to put my bikini on. It was cold but refreshing!

Day 3 - a long day on the bike. We did about 200km apparently, heading up through Pleiku and arriving in Kon Tum at about 5pm. We stopped of at various points through the day, once for lunch at a rather dodgy road side cafe where they had a monkey chained up and the toilet was the bush out the back... There wasn't much to Kon Tum, just a street with a few shops and restaurants. We went to a little noodle shop and Danh took great delight in showing and telling me the difference between Vietnamese and Chinese noodles as if I'd never seen them before! Chinese noodles are thinner than Vietnamese noodles...

Day 4 - Up early to take the Ho Chi Min road to Hoi An. At first there wasn't much road, they're obviously still digging some of it so it was a bit rough on the bum. Then when we finally found some tarmac the road went on and on and on, right through the mountains. The scenery was stunning until we hit the rain which reduced visibility to about 100 meters. As the rain came down, Danh seemed to increase his speed (to get out of the rain he explained) Fearing for my life as we drove at great speed around hairpin bends (think Moto GP here) I closed my eyes and held on tight. We did 320km in all today, most of it in the rain, and it took us about 7 hours and my buttocks were like 2 lumps of rock by the end of it.

It was a great 4 days and I got to see more of Vietnam than I ever thought I would. 4 days on a bike when you're not used to it was tough but it's the best way to see places and having a Vietnamese guide means you get to mix with the locals a little more. Danh was very knowledgable and easy company but slightly mad. He also liked to burp and snort snot out of his nose a lot but so do all the Vietnamese I seem to meet...

Posted by J9travels 00:21 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Mui Ne - Dalat

Hot and cold

semi-overcast 20 °C

After the chaos of Saigon I was looking forward to relaxing on the beach at Mui Ne. I found a room right on the beach and then had a quick look around. It didn't take long as there's only one street with not a lot on it other than resorts and a few restaurants. I spent one day on the beach and then decided I didn't really like it that much. The beach was nice but there wasn't much going on apart from Kyte Surfing and Wind Surfing - it's obviously the place to be for water and wind sports.

So the next day I decided to move - the joy of travelleing! The bus trip to Dalat was an adventure. It's meant to take about 6 hours but we did it in 3hr 30m because our original driver paid someone else to take us and this guy obviously new a short cut right through the mountains. Luckily we were only in a minibus (although there were about 30 of us crammed in) and so we were able to take the dirt track through the mountain. It's obviously not a public road open to tourist buses as there was a slight delay as our driver argued with a guy that was barring our way into the back road. Luckily he let us through and we had an amazing ride.

Dalat was warm during the day but bloody cold during the evening. It's a really pretty town with lovely buildings and a nice big lake in the middle. On the second day I took an Easy Rider tour (guy on a motorbike takes you round to see all the sights as most of them are out of the centre of town). It was a long day but really good, I saw lots of pagodas, bought a silk wrap in a Minority Village, saw a waterfall, went on a cable car ride and went up Lang Bian mountain (very high) in a 4x4 which was a little scary. At the top, one of the Vietnamese couple who I was sharing the 4x4 with asked to take my photo. I can only think that they were impressed with my unique traveller style... Photo to come!

My driver then tried to persaude me to go on a 4 day tour into the highlands with him on his bike - as if!!!!

Posted by J9travels 00:04 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Ho Chi Min City

I didn't get run over!

sunny 29 °C

HCMC was mental. But I lived. There were a few hair raising moments when crossing the road where they missed me by an inch or so but I made it!

In fact, I really enjoyed it. The whole place was buzzing 24 hours a day, the people were really nice and the food was good.

Obviously I was there over Chinese New Year and got to participate in a few celebrations. They had people all dressed up driving by on trucks and the bars never seemed to shut (they like their beer!)

Whilst there I saw the Cu Chi Tunnels and went on a trip up the Mekong Delta which were both really good. I also went to the War Museum which was a bit disturbing, a bit anti American but then you see what happened during that war and you can't really blame them..

I hung out with an old guy called Peter for most of the time which was cool, especially as he kept paying for everything!

And now I've left and starting the journey up the coast to Hanoi. It was a little touch and go that I would be able to get out of the city as the guy at the travel agent told me that there were no seats available on any buses, trains or planes and that everything would shut down during New Year. But I managed to find a seat on a bus and I'm now at the coast at Mui Ne = more beach time!

Posted by J9travels 04:04 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Meeting people

Hot gossip, not mine unfortunately!

semi-overcast 29 °C

Arrived in Ho Chi Min City yesterday afternoon, found a hotel
(expensive one, it had cable and hot water for a massive $13 a night!) It's right in the centre of backpacker land and the only downside is that the 8 million motorcycles in the city drive past my window every morning beeping at each other furiously!! I swear to god, I have never seen so much traffic in all my life. They go any which way down the street, there doesn't seem to be any road rules. Crossing the road is like risking your life, you just have to step in and pray that the bikes and cars don't hit you!

So, I found a room, then I went for a little wonder and a beer. I saw
this Swedish guy that had been on the bus with me and we chatted for a bit, then I booked a tour and then we went for dinner. He was really nice and has been travelling around SA Asia for about 4 months so was telling me where I should go etc.

Anyway, I got up this morning and went to catch the bus to take me to
the Chu Chi tunnels that the Vietnamese built underground to fight the Americans. All very interesting. I'd been speaking to an older guy called Peter whilst we were waiting for the bus but then he took a different bus. I met him going round on the tour and we said we would meet up later.

So, on the bus coming back, an American guy sat next to me and started chatting. He was actually a Jewish bloke, born in South Africa, lived in a Kibbutz in Israel and then moved to the USA. So he was telling me a bit about his job, then he made a call (to what I assumed his wife/partner/girlfriend) and then turned round to me and said "Life is really complicated" Well, I didn't disagree but said mine was quite hassle free at the moment!

Then, he starts telling me his life story, starting out with the fact
that he'd just fallen in love. Ah nice!! Until he tells me that he's 50, already married, with 3 grown up sons, he's a vice president of a university and he's just fallen in love with a 26 year old girl that used to be one of his students and is now planning to give up everything for her!!! It was so weird, he just blurted it all out and the 2 guys he was travelling with on business didn't even know about it!!!!

Anyway, we discuss the merits of falling in love (well, he discussed, I listened!) and then chatted about what was going to happen wen he told everyone. He is going to lose a lot...

It was nice chatting to him. We arrive back, he gives me his
email so that I can find out how the story progresses and then I go
off for lunch, looking to meet the other bloke that I'd spoken to
before.

I'm in the restaurant and behind me are an English couple who were on
my tour and they asked me about the story the American was telling me, as they had been sat in front of us but couldn't quite hear everything. So I start telling them and then the American guy turns up, saying that his 2 mates have sent him out to find me to invite me to lunch with them...!!!!!!!!!

So I go have lunch with them and the American wife cheater starts
talking about all the big stars that have married younger women and
yet not saying anything about his own life but just giving me knowing
looks and then laughing his head off! And they bought me lunch!!!
awesome!

Quite an unusual day for me! When I go to America he says I have to
go to Michigan to visit him and his new girlfriend!!!!

Posted by J9travels 01:00 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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