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VIETNAM | Saturday, 22 March 2008 | Views [693]

On the move ! Have been flying through the southern parts of this continent like there is no tomorrow . Last time i wrote i was leaving the blue skies and cool mountain air of Dalat for a tour of the countryside.

Countryside it was . Had a really cool guide who spoke good english and had studied tourism at the local uni. We took off into the hills and stopped off at some flower plantations which are actually plots of land leased out to the Dutch and the Japenese because the climate is so perfect for growing flowers like roses and gerberas . A very alpine sort of climate. After that it was off to elephant falls which apparently got its name from the waterfall being the tears of an elephant . Not too far away from that was the silk factory which was really interesting . To see these silk cocoons that they can get up to 1km of silk from was fascinating and to watch the whole process was quit cool . Was then off to a local familys restaurant and farm . This place was cool in the sense that they made their own rice wine which they sold to the locals , grew their own coffee , grew their own mushrooms , passionfruit and sugar cane ... and ran a restaurant too . Sat back and enjoyed one of their coffees from their restaurant overlooking the farm . Good fun driving round the country and learning a lot about the way peole live out there at the same time . On the same day it was off to the coastal town of Nha Trang .

The bus ride down the range was an adventure itself . The scenery amazing which came in handy to distract from the 5 or so locals who obviously were more used to soaking up the fresh air on the back of a motorbike than being thrown around in the back of a van . So many people dry reachin it just wasnt funny , and maybe thats why it didn't smell ... Even when we stopped on the side of the road at the bottom of the range , one poor girl was still out the window and a guy in the back was just building what looked to be some sort of paper mashe model of the mountain we just descended , on the floor of the van . Anywaay most of us made it to Nha Trang without any memories of the ride even without the mess being cleaned up before getting back on .

Had heard that Nha Trang was apparently pretty touristy , but as with everything you get told on the road its more fun if you investigate yourself , and if you dont like it move on . I personally really enjoyed the place . Touristy yes , but mildly compared to some places and it was the weekend . A real nice small city besides the beach with tall palms lining the road but still with a large presence of locals not to leave you questioning where you are sometimes . Visited a really cool photograpers gallery in the old town which was really interesting to see how a local captured images from within his own culture . The phoos were all dark room too , nothing digital . Also crossed the river through a village to visit the Thap Ba hot springs . Basically you pay about $5 and you get a small pool of fresh hot springs all to yourself . In the heat of the day it was pretty tough goin , ok , not really , but it was hot , not to mention the swimming pool which was about 38 degrees . To me there is just something about people and places near the beach , and Nha Trang was no different.

Leaving Nha Trang and heading North the next stop was a small fishing port town of Quy Nhon . Only a couple of hundred kilometros North but it still took about 6 hours. Not a bad thing considering the road to Quy Nhon is very very beautiful . It could almost be called the great ocean road in some parts. It was really cool to watch the landscape change from rice patties to sand dunes and lush bushland . The road meanders , descends and ascends in and out of small fishing villages tucked away in small bays surrounded by masssive cliffs . Adding to the scenery is all the fishing boats painted a rich blue with tinges of red. Arriving in Quy Nhon it did not take long to notice that this was a town not frequented by tourists and once again it was a nice chilled couple of days where instead of being hassled by touts to buy , you were constantly greeted with a 'hello!'( sometimes repeatedly ) from across the street from children of all ages who were obviously keen to put to use what they had learnt in English class at school . Judging by the way some people stared it was more obvious they were not used to seeing travellers pass through their quiet little town.

Leaving Quy Nhon it was time to once again , head fror the hills . Had a crazy bus driver who nearly wedged us all between a bus and an on coming truck which was good for a rush , and after passing through the mountain town of Pleiku we jumped out in the town of Kon Tum . A busy little hillside town with some older Bahner villages where pigs and cattle still roam the streets . Very hot and very dusty . The following day it was back on the bus down the range towards Danang . The beauty of this , yet another scenic journey , was that we were to drive through country and jungle known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail which was a major supply route for the North Vietnamese army during the american war . Crazy to think they moved supplys all the way into southern Vietnam through this sort of country as it reminded me of the jungles of Papua New Guinea . At the same time you could see why .

Arriving in one piece in Danang greeted by a number of Vietnamese fighter jets taking off was pretty heavy (really really loud), and for me ironic as i remembered that this was where the Americans landed their troops in the mid sixtys to begin the war . Did not stay in Danang , jumped on a local bus to the sweet little town of Hoi An , about 30 kilometros to the south ...


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