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Barnstorming the coast of Vietnam

VIETNAM | Sunday, 19 October 2008 | Views [624]

fishing boat convoy at Mui Ne

fishing boat convoy at Mui Ne

We arrived into Mui Ne at 1:30am about 2 hours late from Saigon. My bus/hotel drop off was missed so I had to hike back about 500m from the stop in hopes that someone was still up. I had called them in Saigon before leaving and told them I would be there no later then 12:30am so as I wandered down the street at 1:45am I was a little worried they would all be fast sleep which I should have been as well. To my surprise there was a young guy waiting in a hamock at the front of the hotel and he quickly went to fetch the owner who gave me a key, took my money and wished me a good nights sleep. The room was basic but nice without sink or toilet water but a hot shower. So I took a shower, shaved, brushed my teeth all at the same place and went to bed. I awoke at 7am then rose at 9am to a beautiful sunny day with the beach only steps away from my room. Little did I know how wonderful and close this 10km of beach was to my hotel. I took a quick look at it, grabbed some food and went off in search of supplies. I found some breakfast, and started walking on the beach which was so sparsely populated on a Saturday morning I could not believe. The town of Mui Ne is not very big but it did not seem to explain the lack of people. Aside from a few tourists walking down from their resort pools it was empty. I walked for a little bit and found a nice palm-thatched umbrella parked into the sand and made my home for the next few hours before my bus left at 1:00pm. It was such a lovely sight and place that I was disappointed to leave so soon but I had a schedule to keep and knew some day I would want to return with Jessica. If this little town on the South China Sea had surfable waves it would be paradise with still unbuilt land right up to the beach. And real Vietnamese fishing boats (the ones that are completely round) out in the sea. What a place!

Next stop was a 5 hours to Nhra Rhang, a quick stopover for an hour before catching the overnight bus to Hoi An. I grabbed some street Pho for dinner and boarded the sleeper bus bound for Hoi An. These buses have individuals seats that recline about 165 degrees and designed so you can sleep overnight. I settled into my number 32 and got comfy. However, unlike the roads by Saigon, the roads heading to Hoi An were less then ideal and every bump seem to wake me. I did not sleep much this night but I had a great view out the window and a space all my own. I arrived in Hoi An at about 6:15am and found a hotel close to the bus pickup. I walked this cute french inspired town to discover that it had flooded the day before and the section close to the river was full of mud and water, and shopkeepers were busy cleaning out their stores. Still lots of business going on during the cleanup after all it was a Sunday. I was mighty tired but managed to last the entire day including indulging in something Hoi An is known for throughout Vietnam and SE Asia-making cheap quality clothes. I had been looking for linen pants since landing in SE Asia and happened on one of the many stores that make clothes. We did some friendly haggling for a while after I picked from 15 different colors and settled on $11 gray linen pants, tailored and ready for pick up in 5 hours. Meanwhile I walked to the beach enjoying what I was told was one of the few sunny days in Hoi An in recent time. The beach was lovely so I took a swim and caught some late afternoon sun. I picked up my tailor made pants on my way back into town, it started to rain hard so I found a street-side vendor selling Com Ga (chicken rice) and joined the locals for a little dinner.

The next morning I caught the early bus to Hue, about 5 hours away. It was also raining hard in Hue and I made the quick decision to catch the 5:00pm overnight bus to Hanoi instead of staying a night and catching it the following afternoon. I did have time to walk the city and see the old Citadel and palace area. I also met a french guy named Oladjen Springsten and he joined me. We grabbed some Vietnamese green tea before I caught the bus. He was flying to Hanoi the following day so we exchanged mobile numbers so we could meet up again.

The overnight bus to Hanoi was nice, same bus as I had a few nights before. Unfortunately, I was not able to sleep very well but arrived into Hanoi at about 6:00am. I waited while the moto drivers hassled other backpackers but decided to take one guy up on his offer. Turns out he owns(works) at the hotel and he gave me a "good" price. He also books tours to Halong Bay and Sapa which I wanted to do both. The Lonely Planet guidebook says not to book tools through hotels but I was tired and he seemed like a nice fellow so I made a deal that I would pay for the Halong Bay trip after I returned to make sure I enjoyed it. It was his suggestion and seemed fair to me. His wife was also at the hotel and his young son. Hanoi continued in the next story...

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