SOUTHERN VIETNAM: A SCURRY UP THE COAST
Nursing hangovers, we hopped on the bus to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The southern Vietnamese also tend to call it Saigon and most people might know it better by that name. We have seen our fair share of large Asian metropolises, and were running short on time (we only had two weeks or less in Vietnam), so we chose to skip it. The only thing that I think would have been worth staying a night or two would be the war museum. As Americans we felt bad skipping it, only because our two countries have a history… basically we came in and reeked havoc on their country.
We got off the bus in Saigon, and immediately booked our onward bus to Nha Trang. The plan was to head north along the coast, and Nha Trang was a beach destination pretty far up the coast. We were taking a night bus there… more to come on that soon.
So we had 4 hours… what to do. It was our first day in a new country so we had to do a little TCB. I got a SIM card for my phone (5 USD for 250 MB data and calling!), we ate some food, and got foot massages. Felt great on our legs after the tourney in Phnom Penh.
At 8pm or so, we boarded the night sleeper bus. Regardless of your personal height, this was an eccentric way to travel. It is the best way to get around Vietnam though, if you don’t want to buy/rent a motorbike. The night bus is real cheap and it saves a night of accommodation. The seats on the bus were reclined ALMOST to completely flat, but just angled enough to make it uncomfortable. Also, if you are a six-foot human, good luck extending your legs. These buses are also packed, with sometimes locals sleeping in the aisles. This was our first one and we got lucky by getting the back row with a little more leg room! Long story short, we didn’t get great sleep but arrived bright and early in Nha Trang.
Nha Trang was okay. The beach was real nice, but whole city had a bit of a Florida resorty type feel. Also, it didn’t help that this city recently had a big influx of Russian tourists over the past few years. No offense if you are Russian, but Russian tourists might be the worst kind. I’m generalizing here, but they treat the locals like they are better than th}em, can be rude, pushy, and really weird. I’m sure there are tons of great, very friendly Russians to balance this out, but I haven’t met many. This unfortunately is a bit of a trend in SE Asia, as there are now some spots that are very Russian (namely Phuket, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, and probably others).
Anyways…. the beach! With a ocean breeze, cold water, and a book, the beach was great. One of the days we were there, we rented a motorbike for the day and scooted along the coast to a nearby waterfall. The Ba Ho waterfall was probably the best part about Nha Trang. Oh! That and the fish tacos that we found at a small Mexican food stall (the owner was from Arizona). Other random thing: found a restaurant selling hedgehog and civet cat (not sure what civet cat is, but see the pic below).
After a few days, we took another night bus up to Hoi An. This time we thought ahead and took some Advil PM to knock us out. Medium success.
Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage city in central Vietnam and it’s old town has a very colonial feel to it. We spent our first day just strolling through the brightly colored streets and heading to happy hour when the time struck happy hour. Hoi An is famous for being a really cheap place to have clothes made for you. You can get fitted and have a suit, shirt, or dress made for about a third of the price as the states. Maria took Hoi An up on the offer and had a few things made.
For two days, we rented bikes from our hostel and headed to the beach. It turned out to be our favorite beach in Vietnam. There were great local restaurants on the beach that provided beach chairs if you ate lunch at their place. Gotta eat somewhere, so sure. As we were reading and relaxing, we saw some people parasailing. We looked at each other and said “i’ve never done that.” The next thing you know, the guy was coming up to us asking if we wanted to go, he told us 20 USD each, and we were strapped into the sail on the beach. In a matter of 5 minutes, we were strapped in, dragged from the beach into the water, and flown up above the Vietnamese coast. The straps and harness was a bit sketchy, but it worked so I can’t complain.
We left Hoi An a few days after and caught a flight from Da Nang to Hanoi in the north of Vietnam. It was heaven taking a flight instead of more night buses.