Its been a while since I last updated so I am going to have to keep this one short otherwise I'd be writing an essay! I did try to update a few times in the past but the computer crashed so I lost all that I wrote!
Dalat to Hoi An via Nah Trang:
The bus from Dalat to Nah Trang was absolutely amazing right through the Central Highlands, the views were just like the Alps less the snow, plus a whole load of trees completelty covering the mountains. The road is IDEAL for a nice fast car or a motorbike, very new and wide sweeping corners!
After arriving in Nah Trang about midday we went straight to Sinh Cafe to book our tickets that night to Hoi An. After that Gilles and I decided to rent a moto and explore the local area. Unfortunately we ended up with a complete hump of junk... a Chinese moto. The gears did not work too well when changing and the steering was to be desired! Anyhow we ended up driving about 40 klicks to Bo Ho water falls, much nicer than those at Dalat, not as touristy a good little trek up through the river valley. They were also ideal for swimming in, although there was an absolutely massive spider on the rocks next to the water!
THe night bus to Nah Trang was alright, not the best seats in the world and they were not exactely designed for westiners, none the less they were more comfortable than a sitting bus. [think semi reclined seats like smaller beds]
Next up Hoi An - an altogether beautiful city. Its a world heritage sight meaning that all of the old buildings have to be retained in their current state and any rennovations have to be done to the exact standards of the old. Though walking around for the day was very nice we did fry as it was the hottest day so far! For the afternoon we decided to rent cycles and head to the beach. That evening was Gilles birthday so we headed out to a nice restaurant and he ended up treating all of us to a meal and some Vietnamese wine [not as bad as you would think, like a french red]
The next day we rented cycles once more and took a ferry to Cat Kim island (an eyte really in the middle of the river. The island was quite nice, no tourists but bloody hot again! It seems to be an island wholly dedicated to the production of reed mats, which was interesting. This time it was Tom's birthday so again we headed out to a nice restaurant and had a few beers, although this time we had to pay!
That evening we also decided to rent moto's as we though it would be a good idea to head out to some ruins called My Son before our afternoon bus to Hue. We got up at 4:45 and left at about 5:15, so so early! It was only meant to take us about an hour to get there but we took a wrong turning and ended up going the long way round taking more like 1:45 mins! What was really cool was that we were the first tourists up there apart from a smattering of the local artists getting up early to paint. The ruins were quite an amazing sight, to think that there were built nearly 1000 years ago!
Hue - Dong Hoi - Hanoi
That afternoon we took the bus to Hue and I soon realised why the company we went with was the cheapest in town, not the best ride a little hot and sticky as the AC was not too effective!
We only ended up staying one day in Hue as there is only one real sight and that is the old Citadel. We ended up walking around it for about 4 hours! Very interesting, asian architecture is quite amazing, how on earth did they build what they did when they did!
The next afternoon we got our first train in Vietnam to Dong Hoi! Very interesting; we decided to go for the hard seats as it was the cheapest and its how all the locals travel. When you see documentaries like Michale Palin in India, just think about those trains and you have the perfect picture in your head! I had one guy sleeping on the floor under the seat by my legs!
Dong Hoi was okay not the nicest town but not the worst. We were only using it really as a gateway to Vinh Moc tunnels and Phong Nha cave (oldest in Asia, and some brits recently unearthed another larger cave which might be the largest in the world!). The first day we spent going to the beach and trying to sort out a taxi to both the cave and the tunnels, however whenever we asked someone they said it was only possible to see one of the sights and that if you wanted to see both you'd have to spend two days (which we could not do). I rather regrettably had to chose between the tunnels and the cave. I went for the cave as it was another world heritage sight.
That evening we ended up in the street bar across from the hotel and ended up having a whail of time! Gilles, Tom and I ended up drink far too much with some local lads who paid for it all. They even drove us on their motos for a late night Pho Bo (beef soup). Excellent evening that I'll never forget. One of the lads was also a taxi driver who took us to the caves the next day for a good price.
The cave I must admit was very impressive, I have never seen anything so big in my life it look about 20 minutes in a boat just to reach the back of the cave! Again I cant really describe it, just massive full of features, look it up on the internet Phong Nha Cave.
After finishing at the cave we headed back to our hotel to pick up our bags and head to the bus pickup point before we headed to Hanoi. It was at this point that it became very apparent that it was easy enought o see both the caves and the tunnels if you got up early enough, so i am a bit gutted that i did not see the tunnels, it just means that I am going to have to come back to Vietnam again to see them!
On that point this is one of my pet hates about Vietnam, everyone seems to be onyl interested in helping you our if there is the thought of some money at the end of it!
The night bus to Hanoi was really lucky as it was mostly empty so we ended up getting two beds each across the back of the bus making for a good nights sleep!
best night bus so far, not full so ended up having two beds on the back.
Hanoi and Halong Bay
We arrived in Hanoi at about 5:30 in the morning and headed straight for the hotel which seemed to get good reviews, it was not even open yet! we had to get the night guard to let us in.
We pretty much dropped our bags off had showers gave our washing in and headed out to the city to walk around. Hanoi is a really nice city, lots of character to it, loads of old French colonial buildings about. We also spent this day sorting out our Laos visas and trying to find a company to visit Halong Bay with, which in itself took half of the day up! In the end we went with our hotel which was a good idea.
Our first evening in Hanoi we went to some the of most infamous bars in town. Bia Hoi Ha Noi! A local brew produced daily shipped to the local bars and sold for a measly sum of 30p per glass! Makes for a good evening!
The next morning we got up pretty early and headed to Halong Bay....AMAZING! We got there had lunch on the boat whilst we headed out to the bay of some 1969 limestone karst islands. Its one of the most beaultiful places that I have evere seen. Unfortunately it is one, if not the biggest tourist attraction in Vietnam, but still worth the crowds to go an sail around. In the afternoon we stopped off next to a floating village donned some life vests and were let loose in some kayaks to paddle around the bay for 40 minutes or so. This was really cool going right up to sheer cliffs into semi submerged caves and through floating villages! The evening we anchored up and started jumping off the boat for a bit of a swim. Today we sailed back to Halong City to get the bus back to Hanoi and here I am 1519 words later siging off to go to sleep.
Boy that was a marathon essay. Hopefully I'll not have too much of these!
Tomorrow were going to see Ho Chi Minh in the morning and then take a night bus to Sapa.
Adios will update once in Laos I suspect in about 3days time.