heading for the sun
04.12.2009 25 °C
The rest of the trip to Da Nang was uneventful as the beginning of it. But it was nice scenery out the window.
Da Nang wasn’t the sort of place we wanted to stay, but it is right beside an old R&R location for Americans during the war – China Beach! Which is a really nice, 30km long white sand beach, well actually a lot of different beaches. We had heard of a local ‘celebrity’ (of such) that owned a really basic guesthouse on a My An beach. His name is Hoa and he runs one of the most laid back places we’ve ever visited. It was very basic, but very welcoming and cheap! And every night there was a communal dinner for all the guests at 7pm, a great way to meet the other people staying there. And every night we were there we ended up on the beach with a bonfire and cheap rum. We spent our time there wandering up and down the beach and taking a look at the nearby ‘Marble Mountains’. These are a bunch of marble mountains (believe it or not) rising up out of the ground rather dramatically, and one of them has a bunch of pagodas and some Buddha statues on it. They sculpt a lot of stuff here, if you want a couple of two meter high lions for either side of your gate, this is the place. They used to mine the marble there, but realised that if they carried on there would be no marble left and the tourists would stop coming, so they now ship it in from China. The highlights of walking on the beach were a dead pig, some rather strange sea creatures and a ship wreck of a cargo ship only about 30 meters or so off the beach.
But the weather was not that good, so after two nights we took a short trip down to a nice place called Hoi An. It’s a UNESCO place so most of it looks very nice, and it’s quite small so there were lots of westerners about. Most people come here to have clothes made for them, and we were a little tempted but in the end we didn’t – the weather on our second morning was rainy and cool so we decided on the spur of the moment to jump ship once again and we headed back to Da Nang and caught the 1pm train to Nha Trang. This train journey was a bit longer than the last, 8 hours, and we had a mad Vietnamese woman behind us. Well, she wasn’t crazy to begin with. Right after we sat down she offered us a stick of chewing gum each – a nice gesture we thought! But an hour or so into the journey she started asking for money, or for us to buy her food.
One thing we have noticed about people in this part of the world, well two things. One, they have no sense of queuing. It is a fight for the ticket window or in a shop, which may not sound too bad (remember, even Anita is fairly tall out here) but you just don’t feel good elbowing a 92 year old, four foot tall woman out of the way, even though she has just done that to you! The second thing is that they just do not care where they sit on transport. Even if they have allocated tickets, they will sit where ever they desire. We’ve had to ask people to move on planes, trains and buses, and I watched a local girl have great difficulty understanding where she was supposed to sit. In the end someone else on the train had to point out both the seat number on her ticket as well as the seat number on the, well, seat. But it is more interesting watching another western tourist trying to get their seat back off a local.
Anyway, train to Nha Trang. We had worked out where we wanted to stay and from the train station we got to the hotel and it turned out as good, even better, than expected! We’d read online that the place had just been refurbished in October so we had hopes that it would be nice! And it is! Most of the hotels we’ve stayed in (we’re on a budget remember) have been nice but there are always things not right: a bit of mould in a corner or the bathroom being a little skanky or dirty (foot print looking) marks 7 feet up the walls. But this place is newly painted, the furnishings are comfortable and new, the linen is new and of good quality, and there is a roof bar on the 5th floor! What more could we want!!
Nha Trang is not having the best weather at the moment either, so we’re booked to go to Mui Ne tomorrow, a small fishing village 5 hours bus ride south. The weather there is supposed to be in the 30’s! Bring it on!
That’s all for now…