Monday, 24 May 2010

Vietnam- Hoi An, Nha Trang & Mui Ne

Hoi An

Since Johnny and Lowy had left a day before us from Da Nang they had already sorted a nice hotel with a pool in the centre of Hoi An. We met them there mid morning after being dropped off by the Easy Riders. Our hotel room number was 204 for the third hotel room in a row- weird.
Hoi An is a beautiful town with narrow streets packed with excellent restaurants, an assortment of textile shops and plenty of tailors. Alba and Johnny both had footwear made for the equivalent of 7 quid a pair.
On the second day we all hired bikes and pedalled the short distance to the beach and spent the full day there relaxing, playing frisbee and swimming in the sea. The waves were pretty big and the rip was strong- I got flipped upside down by a wave much to the amusement of the locals!

After a few nights in Hoi An we decided to move on further south down the coast to Nha Trang, another beach resort which took an over night bus ride to get to. The sleeper bus was OK albeit slightly cramped; we shared the back bunks with 3 Russians to personal space was minimal to say the least!

Nha Trang

When we arrived at the beach side city of Nha Trang just before 6am it looked as if most of the city's inhabitants were already on the beach either running, swimming, doing Tai Chi or even playing happy sack. When the sun comes up and gets hotter the Vietnamese and most of the people in South East Asia avoid the sun at all costs and it is quite common to see people covered head to toe even when its high summer. People ride motorbikes with an umbrella held over their faces to avoid the suns rays. Shower gel and other cosmetics even contain whitening skin agents. Ironic really how people who are naturally tanned want to be white and pale skinned people do anything to do the opposite.
We took a boat trip around the bays of the nearby islands to do some snorkeling around the reef. It was a good day and we also had a blast on a banana boat just before lunch. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be to hang on when it flipped- it actually knacked! Good fun though.

Mui Ne

Mui Ne is another of Vietnam's premier beach resorts with huge complexes dotted along the 8km or so stretch of white sand. The stretch of beach we were staying on was clean and we had a bungalow right on the beach and ate at a very swanky restaurant next door every night for cheap. The weather was so hot it was impossible to stay out in the sun too long and the sea was warm so jumping in gave you no rest bite from the heat.
One of the local attractions were the huge sand dunes just outside of the town and after reading you could sledge down them it sounded like a fun thing to do. We hired scooters for the day and off we went along the coast with the yellow dunes in the distance. We parked up at a cafe across the road from the dunes and hired some shady looking sledges off some shadier looking street kids who led us up to the top of the dunes. It was midday and was around 40 degrees and the sand was the hottest thing that has ever touched my feet! We winced in pain as we hobbled slowly up to the summit. The street urchins were seemingly unperturbed by the searing  heat as their feet looked like well worn leather.

After what seemed like forever we reached the top of the dunes out of breath with burning feet. I decided to go down first and it was really crap, a total anti climax. Climbing back up was worse as the sand was finer and covered my feet up to my shins with every step. Needless to say I didn't bother going down again!
We left the dunes and drove to the nearby Lotus Lake. It really was something else, a deep blue lake fringed by a desert of pure white sand- I'd never seen anything like it. Swimming proved difficult with thorny weeds clogging the shoreline but it was still great to cool off after the relentless heat of the dunes as Alba's face was still pink an hour later and Johnny had mild sunstroke!

Johnny and Lowy left Mui Ne early as Lowy had to go back home as the cost of his knackered boiler forced him to cut his trip short. We had a great time with you mate and you are missed! We ate at Sankara's again and said our goodbyes.

The local