Nha Trang, Hoi An and more travel time in Vietnam

 

I haven’t written an entry in a few days basically because there wasnt much to say. After Mui Ne we moved onto Nha Trang, where we basically did nothing for two days. We really weren’t a fan of Nha Trang and both wish, in retrospect, that we’d moved on faster than we did. Jess managed to haggle down to a decent price at a good hotel with two double beds in the room (luxury when at most places we share one) but unfortunately we realised afterwards that it wasnt in the best area. We really struggled to find places to eat and the majority of people there were either locals or rude, upper class tourists. The food was limited and expensive and really started to a no is in our time there. We were however, near a decent beach, where we spent both days lying around and reading our books.

One thing I love about Vietnam, especially in comparison to Cambodia, is it’s greenery and mountains. The landscapes are beautiful and Nha trang beach even occasionally reminded me of similar ones I’d seen in New Zealand. It was no otres beach (way too touristy) but it was surrounded by mountains which made it kindve unique. However, after two days of eating bad food, paying expensive prices for sun loungers and not really doing much else we were bored and well ready to move on.

Dream Beach at Nha Trang

Dream Beach at Nha Trang

Unfortunately for me this meant another overnight bus. Now if I was your average traveller I would love these buses. They’re relatively comfortable compared to other buses, they save you a nights accommodation and you can sleep for most of the journey. But for a light sleeper like me, and someone who’s suffered with insomnia in the past, I do not enjoy these journeys one little bit. This one was made particularly uncomfortable by the fact I needed a wee about five minutes into the journey.

I was happy when we stopped somewhere to pick people up and the driver let me get off to go to the toilet. I was less happy to discover that it wasnt a toilet so much as a shed with a drain. I could have dealt with this if it wasnt so dark I manage to mistake an extremely deep, water and piss filled hole for a puddle, accidentally putting my entire leg in it. The water came up to my thigh and I had no way of changing since my backpack was buried deep in the storage under the bus. Yes, I was going to have to sit on the bus for 12 hours in a pair of trousers that smelled like dirty water and piss. I had to laugh.

That was until I realised I needed another wee about 30 minutes later (I’d stupidly drank loads of water all day thinking it would be fine if I stopped an hour before the bus). 5 hours later and I was in so much pain I could barely think straight! I debated for about an hour why the bus hadnt stopped yet and how the bus driver could no need to go. Eventually, on the verge of tears, I got up and pleaded with the driver to stop. Thankfully he did and about 90% of the bus got off. Looks like I wasn’t the only one in pain!

I’ve realised that when I’m travelling I have loads of ‘I’m so lucky to be here’ moments but probably about half as many ‘I don’t want to do this any more’ moments too. When people imagine how amazing it would be to travel i think they rarely consider that its not always perfect. Of course the good times by far outweigh the bad and 90% of the time i feel fine. But Lying on that seat in pain, tired and wanting so badly to attempt sleep, I wondered why the hell I’d decided to travel in the first place. I then lay there, desperately trying to sleep and failing, for about 8 more hours. By the time we reached Hoi An I just wanted to go back to the UK and go to bed.

As always when you’re exhausted and your bus pulls into a new place, we were bombarded with offers of taxis, hotels, fruit etc. We usually know to ignore all these people but it’s not so easy when you can barely see straight. The bus driver told us the company had a free shuttle bus to the centre, so we jumped straight into one, lead by a woman claiming she was a representative. It was only when we realised we were the only ones taking them up on the offer that they were actually taking us to their hotel – in the middle of nowhere.

We got dropped off at the hotel and told them we weren’t staying there. We had seen pictures of the river front in hoi an and wanted to stay there. We started walking (in the heat with our heavy backpacks) down a deserted dirt track to what we thought we the city centre 10 minutes away. We soon realised we were just walking further and further from civilisation. There were no taxis around. That’s typical in south east Asia. It drives you crazy being asked if you want a moped/taxi/tuk tuk constantly and then when you actually need one they’re not there. We sat at the side of the road with no idea what to do next until eventually we were rescued by a moped driver. He told us we were going the wrong way and him and his friend would take us to the centre (surprisingly they could fit our backpacks on the tiny moped too). We weren’t surprised when they quoted us about 10 times the price we knew it should be.

Now I am useless in these situations. I’m useless at haggling, I’m a bit of a pushover and to be honest most of the time I just can’t be bothered when at the back of my mind I know it’s the difference of about £1. Plus I was so exhausted I probably would have paid 30 times the amount to be able to lie down. Jess however, is great. She wasnt having any of it, even when they tried to take us to several hotels who were charging us slightly extra. Eventually we found a hotel on the river front and Jess got the price down, as always. We basically got their worst room with no air con but when they said the words ‘you can check in now’ (It was about 9am) I was totally sold. One thing you have to know when you go to south east Asia, sadly, is that most of the locals will do anything to get more money out of you. I hate it as sometimes they may be genuine, but you just can’t trust a word they say. A lot of them have no problem screwing you over for an extra couple of quid and you have to be alert to that, even when you’ve just stumbled off a bus and haven’t had a minutes sleep.

Thankfully, when we finally got to the right place it looked like this. I knew instantly that I was going to love it and I was right. It was my favourite place in Vietnam so far.
Hoi An

Hoi An

Pretty riverside buildings

Pretty riverside buildings

The first thing I did, however, was lie down for a few hours. Sometimes you just have to prioritise sleep and rest over exploring and I knew this was one of those times so I left Jess to it and lay under our tiny fan for a few hours. After that it was time to explore.

The last few places we had visited hadn’t impressed us much. We had loved the sand dunes in Mui Ne but didn’t think much of the resort itself, and we both weren’t keen on Nha trang. To me they were just soulless tourist spots with no heart and nothing quirky or inviting about them. Hoi an on the other hand, is an ancient town and a world heritage site. It was full of personality and was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for out of Vietnam. The central point of the town is the Japanese bridge which looks so pretty at night, and the beautiful buildings that reflect in the river. I felt like I was seeing something I hadn’t seen before in south east Asia.

Japanese bridge

Japanese bridge

The streets are also lined with lanterns which make it even prettier at night. Most of the shops are tailors full of pretty dresses – it was actually so hard not to buy one! I had to resist the urge to buy a custom made dress in favour of more space in my backpack but it was so tempting. Dressing up is one thing I miss while Im being a backpacker!

Hoi An streets

Hoi An streets

Pretty lanterns

Pretty lanterns

Hoi An by night

Hoi An by night

Considering beer here cost the equivalent of 14p, we decided this might be a good place for a night out. We did however, make the mistake of starting at around 6pm – way too early! we found what looked like the place with the best music and sat there, waiting for the dance floor to fill up. Hoi An was one of the best places I’ve been to meet people and we got talking to a couple of people while we were sat there, including a guy we’d met in the chemist earlier (I love how you meet people in such random places when you’re travelling!). We eventually left the club at around 1am and were gutted to find everywhere closed which meant no chance of finding water or that post night out pizza! It was fun but when they started playing 100 Oasis songs in a row we knew it was time to leave. I mean, I love Oasis, but there are other bands!! I blame the group of pissed up Brits.

We woke up in the morning feeling pretty ill. It was a firm reminder of why I’m not drinking much out here – all I wanted to do was lie around and do nothing. I felt ill all day and couldn’t appreciate anything I was seeing, except maybe this sunset.

Sunset

Sunset

We did manage to have a pretty romantic meal on a rooftop bar looking over the river but I felt too sick to enjoy the food. I even still felt ill the next day. This is why, although it means we’re acting about 80, I would rather give up nights out in favour of sleep most of the time. I don’t want to be out here, somewhere amazing, feeling tired and ill every day and just wishing I was in bed. It’s not what I came here for. We had one more morning in Hoi An where again all we did was have a wander and look in the little shops. I was sad to leave but happy that this time we only had a 5 hour, day time journey to reach our next stop – Hue.

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