Published: May 27th 2006May 20th 2006
View from our boat deck/ bed
Back to the beach, so Nha Trang it was Party beach resort in Vietnam and party we did. The beach was really nice, clear blue deep water and empty, until the sun starts to go down when all the locals come out as it seems to be the way in Asia. They all stayed fully covered from the sun and are never on the beach until there's no sun. They just look at us crazy Westerners! Nha Trang is the place to dive so newly certified, off I go. It was a really good couple dives, the reef was spectacular and saw Moray eels and Tiger fish and lots of other lovely but nameless fish cos I wouldn't have a clue what they are called! It was really good just to go and dive and not have to do any skills like taking your mask off under water, shudder. The culture in Nha Trang seems to be based on beer, so its always 'Happy Hour' somewhere.
It was decided to take in the local culture on my birthday so Booze Cruise it was. Did a tour of the islands and some snorkeling but the best bit was a floating bar...
Local girls hanging out.
ummm floating around in hoops with free drinks. Part of the trip included a trip to the aquarium all the Vietnamese hurried of the boat as there not big swimmers they relished the opportunity to see some fish. The westerns relished the opportunity for another floating bar and came a tourist attraction for the locals all watching us and taking photos of us floating around with a beer. That night we put our 'glad rags' or at least the best clothes I have and head out. There were many birthdays around town including the barman in one of the bars, so free beers and free shots all round, next bar, another set of birtdays, more free shots and free buckets and in the club we ended up in while deciding what to drink we got randomly handed more buckets, no complaints here! So all in all didn't buy a drink all night! Nice. Was a very odd night that involved meeting another Reading fan (URZ!) and a fella I met at college (random) and me cycling Kiara in a cyclo home.
The Full moon party was next on the agenda, my word! If you know the ones on
Ko Phangan it certainly was different from the ones there! Its on a beach 30k from Nha Trang so we had to get a coach, we got dropped of at the side of the road under a 'welcome to Full Moon' banner and got lead away into the darkness. We were slightly puzzled as to why we couldn't hear any banging baseline but carried on. As we approached we music was heard, Jackson Five no less and that set the tone for the rest of the night, it was that good! We clambered over the sand dunes to an almost empty beach. There was one bar and one dance floor and only the people off the coach. All set for a wild night, hasten to say we left early. The magician and dance competition when we stone cold sober didn't really do it. It was an experience anyway but not in the Kho Phangan way!
Hoi An was the next stop a girls dream as its the talioring capital you can have anything made. I went with quite good intentions, shame it didn't stick through as I ended up with made to measure jeans and a big warm coat.
Its stunning, beautiful brown wool with a red silk lining made to measuse for $35! Not to useful in Asia but going to be a good looking backpacker in the New Zealand winter!! We had picked up a Brentford fan on the bus that took the total in our pack to seven, including the Reading fan we had met, and had a bit of a giggle as Brentford lost in the playoffs. Hoi An itself doesn't really have much going for it apart form the tailors shops. The old town is a UNESCO world heritage sight and very pretty so we willingly paid our $4.5 dollars, a lot in Vietnamese terms, to see the sights. Yet another Vietnamese rip off, spent all of 30 seconds in the museum the size of a penalty box and had paid to walk over a public bridge. The Rip offs in Vietnam are pretty standard so you have to haggle and fight for everything even a bottle of water, I learned early to ask the price before I ate or drank anything.
As me and Rob were both running out of time, visa and flight wise so we left the others and head
north. Was a busy day, bus up to Hue, couple of hours sightseeing and then on the night bus to Hanoi. Hue full of tombs and pagodas and near the Demilitarized Zone of the North/ South divide from the war. We took in the culture by trying all the local beers we hadn't tried, and going to the DMZ, DMZ Bar that is, so cultured who needs tombs!
Hanoi bright and early after the nosiest bus journey as the diver only turned the music off for 4 hours on an overnight journey! Loads of sleep! Sightseeing wasn't the greatest success in Hanoi as its easy to get sidetracked my Bia Hoi, glasses of draught beer for 8p, just like home. We did manage to fit in a Water Puppetry show, all a bit odd and a little scary, not to keen on the puppets.
We booked our boat to Harlong Bay, two thousand beautiful limestone islands come out of the sea, with high hopes as we paid for a nice boat and good food. Hardly, it was terrible! firstly we got taken off the boat we were booked on and out on a different boat, ok I can
deal with that. But as 'Psycho Sailor' as we renamed him, served our hair riddled spring rolls he grunted and pointed at a sign saying we had to pay for any drinks we had brought on. As drinks were expensive on the boat we all had our own and Psycho took it upon him self to check our bags for booze when we were off the boat! When we were finally let in our rooms we all discovered there were already inhabitants in them, either cockroaches (ours was HUGE!! biggest I've seen) or rats. Pleasant! I wasn't too fussed as sleeping on the top deck was much more preferable with a stunning view of the islands and the stars. So a night under the stars on the boat was followed by an overnight train up to Sapa, up the the mountains and full of loads of ethnic hill tribes, Im getting used to not sleeping in a bed let alone my own bed.
Sapa was a beatifull place, but we had quite and experince. Frist day there was quite uneventful just looked around and climmed up Ham Rong Mountain and took in the views. All of the locals are
from different hill tribes and all have their own traditional ehtnic clothing, there were some pretty awsome outfits. Next day we decided to hire a motor bike to ride around the local villages our selfs. Baring in mind nither of us had ridden bikes before, dodgy roads and many hills wasnt the place to be learning to ride, but the guy very happily gave us his bike for just a couple of dollers. All was good on the open road and even managed to get up to 60 kph! The views were stunning, but a little sacry when a truck come hurtling around the corner. We ventured into the local trible villages including the Cat Cat Village. The rice terraces were and awsome site and seeing how they harvested them by hand and with the high technology of the buffalo was amazing. Our sucsess on the bike front didn't hold out all day. Well it's a stuipid idea to put excelator next to the brake! So a small misshap lead to a rather gammy elbow and the bike also not looking to healthy leading to an interesting return of the bike. Long story short, we were soon surounded by least 15 very threatening mates and the guy. We gave him some money and were glad to be leaving Sapa that night!
Stupidly we did the sleeping situation on the trains the wrong way around. On the way up we had soft sleepers and vodka so we would have slept anwhere by the time we finished the bottle. On the way back to Hanoi we ended up on top bunk hard sleepers, with so little room even little me couldn't sit up in bed, and a only a couple of very expensive weak beers, certainly not enough to make you pass out on a very hard beds. Back to Hanoi for the day and back to China tommorow.
(May have more photos to come, having a few problems!)