Published: December 16th 2006December 13th 2006
After a fairly hectic few days in Hoi An, we arrived late on Saturday night in hot and humid Nha Trang - taking a lucky chance with a hotel that we thought existed....arriving to find it shut up for the night. Fortunately the hotel next door were more than happy to have us - and as soon as we set eyes on the pool near the foyer, we were staying!
In its peak season, Nha Trang is well known for its long and beautiful beach and its beach parties, as well as snorkling and scuba diving. Whilst still very hot at this time of year, the beach was pretty rough, as we had predicted and so it was lucky we had decided to spend only a day there. We had a little time in the morning to have a look around the area we were staying in, and also spent a bit of time organising our next few days in the highlands. We came across a crazy Danish guy Kim who owned a tour company in Nha Trang that ran personal tours to the highlands - we ended up booking through him for a three day trip through the highlands
Fishing boats on Nha Trang beach
Thanks to these little boats and their hard workers we enjoyed 14 fresh crabs for lunch!
(I'll tell you a little more later!)
In the afternoon we followed the tourist trail to the Thap Ba Hot Spring Centre. It came highly recommended by Kim and so we thought it could be a good way to spend the afternoon. What followed was a random but most enjoyable few hours, and we were left feeling totally relaxed and walked out in a state of zombieness (if there is such a word!).
After a shower in warm mineral water (flowing down from the mountains above), we all piled into a big empty bath which was very quickly filled with luke warm sloppy mineral mud. None of us were game to take our cameras near the mud - but luckily we were able to purchase photos for $1 each - you'll have to wait until I get home to see the sight - just imagine 6 people covered head to toe in mud and you'll get the general idea! Next was a 10 minute bask in the sun to dry, and then another shower to wash off. The most relaxing part followed - with 5 minutes in a 'hydrotherapy shower' - where jets shoot warm/hot water vertically at you,
Our tour guide Hero
Note the bare hills in the background - the trees destroyed and removed during the war to remove protection
as you stand between two walls, and then 45minutes in a hot mineral spring (40+ degrees!).
That evening we went to the Sailing Club on the beach - we had heard it was very expensive for what you got - but after we tasted the $6 cocktails and our $7-9 main courses we have to disagree. It definately rated up there with the best food so far, not to mention the beautiful setting - right on the beach with palm trees and fairy lights everywhere - just beautiful.
Monday morning. Awake at 7am. Prepare for the most amazing four days ever!
Boarding a bus with our crazy tour quide 'Hero' and our bus driver Son, we set out on Day 1 - Nha Trang to Buon Ma Thot. After less than 10 minutes on the bus, Hero in his randomness decided to stop the bus so that we could go and see the fishermen on the beach. We walked away with a 2kg bag of fresh crabs (about 14 of them!) for about 12 dollars! The next couple of hours on the bus passed by in no time - as we continually stopped for photos, stories and the
One of the 14 tasty crabs Hero suggested we buy...and helped us consume!
odd walk - Hero told us that walking up a hill would be good for our buts! About 15 minutes after lunch, we stopped at a cafe run by Hero's cousin, situated in amongst the coffee plantations. They cooked up our crabs and we sampled the local coffee - eating the crabs was a very lengthy and amusing process, which left most of us feeling a little ill, but it was still worth it!
The last leg of the journey to Buon Ma Thuot passed in no time - stops to see the coffee trees, rubber trees, and to take more photos of Vietnamese crazyness - chickens/children/jack fruit - you name it stacked on motorbikes! We soon arrived at the Draysap waterfalls for an afternoon swim, once again a beautiful setting and much appreciated cool down!
That evening we stayed in Bungalows near a different set of waterfalls - another beautiful setting. Hero entertained us over dinner with his singing and harmonica playing, and suprised/freaked us out with his amazingly acurate palm and horoscope readings! We attempted to teach him the words/tune of Waltzing Matilda, but soon discovered we hadnt chosen the simplest melody for him to learn
In amongst the coffee trees
These coffee plantations not only looked beautiful (from a distance they look like they're covered in snow), but also smell beautiful - the flowers smell like gardinas
- it was funny none the less!
Following breakfast by the waterfall we returned to Buon Ma Thuot for a trip to the markets. Hero led us to the most amazing cake shop/bakery we've seen so far in Vietnam, and for 40c each we sampled a number of different and interesting delights! We purchased one last pinapple in the markets, and got the feeling that we may have just purchased one of the last of the season when several Vietnamese women tried to rip the bag of pinapple from my hand!
Another rather amusing thing to arise from a walk through the markets was the number of Vietnamese women and men walking up to me and pointing and touching my skin and face. Hero soon explained that they were asking where I was from and saying how beautiful my skin is - I think I must be starting to look a little more Asian with a bit of sun on my skin!
Next we headed to Lak Lake Village, about an hours drive south of BMT. We were taken to a little 'resort' type place where our seconds night accomodation was - a 20m 'long house' - similar
First night in the Bungalow
With waterfalls near by this was a beautiful spot to spend the night
to that all the minority people live in around Lak Lake. After a quick snooze in a hammock by the lake we again boarded the bus set for elephant riding - finally! We had all been looking forward to this day for ages! Once on top of the elephant however I was having second thoughts for the first 10mins - apparently not only do I get car sick and boat sick, but elephant sick as well - they walk so slowly with such a plod that your stomach churns as well! Once we started walking through the water it was much less bumpy and we were able to enjoy the ride!
After a short boat ride to another nearby minority village (which had the most unconstrained farm animals I've ever seen!) we captured a beautiful sunset over the lake before heading back to the longhouse for some traditional dancing. The dancing was fantastic - but I'm pretty sure we'd all agree that the riduculous consumption of horrid rice wine was a little too much on empty stomachs! The easy rider gang and our fellow tourists were passing around a large water bottle full of the potent stuff, as we
2nd night and the Long House in Lak Lake Village
The minority M'nong people sleep in these long houses - and so did we for a night - a great experience!
were forced to drink capful after capful - a rather random but amusing experience!
Back to the village for dinner with shrimp pancakes on the way, and a few crazy Kung Fu lessons from Hero - we crashed onto our long house mattresses for an eery nights sleep, the sounds of frogs, cicadas and other wild creatures preventing most sleep!
The final day of the tour brought with it more scenery and a rather long bus trip to Delat, however thanks to Caths invention of the haystack game (dont ask!) we were amused for most of it! A short stop in the Chicken Village (see picture!) broke up the journey, and the trip ended following a wander through the 'Crazy House' in Delat - a very very strange example of architecture that cannot be described only experienced!
And so here we are in Delat, and ready to take on a 90km bike ride to Mui Ne on the coast - we are in some serious need of sleep tonight after such a busy 4 days! Stay tuned for further adventures - sorry about the massive blog!
There are more photos below