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Al's epic odyssey "A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu

Nha Trang - Hoi An - Hue

VIETNAM | Sunday, 25 October 2009 | Views [1149]

The first day is Nha Trang was a bit rainy but gave me a day to wander around the tourist zone and sample some of the restaurants, pubs and scenery. The beach in Nha Trang is beautiful - miles and miles of wide sandy beach with only intermittent coconut leaf covered unbrella’s and not lined with pubs and restaurants. The seaside parks are very pleasant with wonderful topiary. The sea was relatively flat, but there were massive breakers that seemed to form out of nothing about 5m from the shore threatening to dump you if you miss-timed your entrance or exit from the water.


The tour to Four Islands is fantastic value for money and great fun. There were loads of us crammed onto a tourist boat and taken to visit an aquarium on one island (I could easily have given that a miss), snorkeling on a coral reef at another, anchored off a third for a massive (and excellent) seafood buffet washed down with a few beers. The crew then entertained us with an excellent boy band act, with the drum kit quite possibly made up of the same utensils used to cook our lunch. This was followed by happy hour in a pub in the sea. The bar was basically a buoy type structure for a barman to dispense “cocktails” to the rest of us who were floating around in life rings. Finally we disembarked at a fourth island to swim or soak up the sun on the beach. The whole tour was excellent value at only 7 USD per person. Funky Munky and Barbell were excellent hosts.


I had planned on going diving the next day, but I met up with some people that I’d met on the boat cruise and we were out a little later than planned. When I woke early for the dive I was still under the weather so turned it into a lazy beach day instead.


One of the tourist attractions in Nha Trang is the Mud Baths and Mineral Pools. The mud baths are great fun; it’s more the consistency of tomato soup than the thick mud I was anticipating. This was followed by dips in various pools of differing temperatures and magical powers. Well worth a visit.


Finally, on my last day in Nha Trang I went SCUBA diving. It was great. Not only was it the cheapest diving I’ve ever done ($35 for two dives all inclusive), but because it was low season I ended up with my own personal guide, rather than having to share him with three others. The two highlights were to see a turtle and to be bitten by Nemo. The turtle was sitting on the bottom minding its own business when I spotted him. Both my guide and I stroked it (I know you’re not supposed to touch) before he lazily swam off. The clown fish was defending his territory when I got a bit too close and he tried to take out a chunk of my finger. It was a fair nip but he didn’t break the skin.


The overnight sleeper bus to Hoi An was uneventful and I actually did manage to doze off. I suspect because I was knackered after the day diving.


Hoi An is known for its’ tailoring and I decided to get a suit made. I was measured up at 12 midday on the day I arrived, a second fitting at 6pm that evening, a third at 11am the following morning and I collected the completed suit at 4pm. Not bad for $70. I actually had a second pair of trousers made as well as I always wear them out first and end up with a wardrobe filled with suit jackets.


The beaches in Hoi An are reputedly some of the best in Vietnam, but unfortunately the day that I’d planned on visiting the beach turned out to be overcast and a bit rainy so I never got there. Unfortunately my time in Vietnam is running out and I am very keen to get to Halong Bay in the north, so my time is being limited along the way.


I travelled up the road to Hue, an ancient Capital of Vietnam from the times when it was controlled by the Chinese. The old city itself is quite pretty although I was disappointed with the poor value for money. They certainly do try and milk the tourists for every dollar. I booked a $10 motorcycle tour but ended up paying an additional $12 in entrance fees to see three Mausoleums and the Citadel. The mausoleums are interesting, but overpriced compared to other similar attrations. The Citadel was particularly disappointing as it is quite run down and the entrance money is clearly not being used for maintenance. It has the potential to be a wonderful attraction. Food and drink at some of the more popular venues is also a lot pricier than I’ve had to pay so far, although the accommodation at the Halo Guest House was good value for money.


Tags: booze cruise, mud bath, scuba diving, suit


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