Published: December 18th 2006December 16th 2006
Hi everyone! Before I forget, thanks for all the comments and messages, its good to know that what we are getting up to keeps you all entertained! This may be an enormous blog, we have been non-stop for a week or so, but Im really tired so could easily give up soon!
Ok, so we left Hoi An and took the day train to Nha Trang. Fortunately we have been blessed by some sort of Vietnamese weather god, because whenever we are on a train it pours down, but as soon as we want to go sightseeing/swimming etc the weather clears up. Nha Trang was just a 2 night stop to get us into place to reach the central highlands. The only thing of note that we found to do here was go to the Mud Springs and Spring waterfalls, such a good way to spend the afternoon! We all crammed into a "communal mud bath" and rolled around getting filthy and exfoliated for 15 mins (Matt got some very jealous looks from other guys) then lay in the sun and waited for the mud to start cracking. We then had a series of hydrojets, hot spas and sitting under
Cant get much fresher than that! Yum!
waterfalls to rinse off. Then we swam in this massive 37degree pool for a while, but its not realy very refreshing, just kinda hot!
Nha-Trang to Dray Sap Falls
By chance we found a travel agency in Nha Trang that organised some of the best 3 days we have had in Vietnam. For $75 each we got our own mini-bus, complete with CD, A/C, driver and an all-singing, all-dancing, kung-fu champion tour guide, Hero. He was a refugee from the highlands during the Vietnam War (whole area was covered with Agent Orange), so he was full of stories and knew heaps about the local plant life, farms, and food. We set off on an 8 hour bus trip that felt like it took 40mins we were so entertained. It started off with a quick stop on Nha Trang beach to pick up 2kg of fresh (live) crab from the recent catch. We named them all (pinchy, snappy etc) popped them in a plastic bag and were on our way. After random stops along the way to do things like smell coffee plantations, look at rubber trees and steal curry flowers off vines, we made it to a small cafe
Matt and I about to set off on a ride through the lake with Stampy the elephant...that's the name we gave him, his Vietnamese name is probably Nguyen or Tran or something
where Pinchy and friends were taken screaming from the bag to be made into lunch. They were delicious!
We finished off the day with a swim at the biggest waterfall in Vietnam, then stayed overnight at some smaller waterfalls in bungalows. Hero kept us entertained with telling our horoscopes (apparently Im going to meet my husband whilst on holiday, too bad Matt) and some singing. Trying to teach a Vietnamese person how to sing Waltzing Matilda is not the greatest idea by the way, sounds terrible in Engrish!
Dray Sap- Buon Ma Thuot- Lak Lake
More random bus stops along the highway today, with a delightful stop at the biggest bakery I have ever been to in Buon Ma Thout! Felt quite sick for most of the day after attempting to sample everything. Kept on driving and stopping and driving and stopping until we eventually reached Lak Lake, where we were to stay the night in a traditional Long House. Absolutely massive room, but also had very massive bugs and scary noises all night. We had such a great afternoon, going to a minority village and getting to ride elephants through a lake for an hour! Ours was
called Stampy, and not to gross anyone out, but when an elephant farts it doesnt try to hide it! Poor Cath and Ange riding down-wind from us! I get motion sickness in buses, nearly reached at new low as I got very queasy on the back of bouncing Stampy!
We took a boat over to some more villages, getting to meet the locals and they didnt try to sell us a single thing! It was such a relief to get off the tourist trail for a few days, and even better having a local with us to help with buying food and translating for us. Never seen so many children and mixture of animals on farms with no boundaries, the whole community just shares everything. The locals got started on the Rice Wine early, but we couldnt maintain the pace and had to reject after the 6th or 7th shot. Hero had orgainsed a little performance of the local tribal group in our Long House, little did we know that he also invited all of his tourist guide buddies and their tour groups. Ended up with 40 people in the long house with some great music and even more rice
Dumbo in mud
it looked like hard work walking through the mud, was sure the girls were going to get bogged at one stage!
wine, very fun night.
Pretty boring day, how do you compete with riding elephants and drinking rice wine with locals? Went to some place called Chicken Village, no chickens but there was a giant stone statue of a chicken for some reason! Most exciting bit of the day was our bus driver deciding to take over everyone on the wrong side of the road around blind corners going up the mountains into Dalat. What a psycho, glad the tour ended there! Seriously tho, was such an amazing experience to meet locals with no pretence of buying anything. It was great to eat more traditional food and the scenery was so untouched compared to the more built up parts of Vietnam. If any of you travel here you should defintetly make time to get to the Highlands for a few days break from beach resorts or dvd shopping!
Working off the excessive 5 week food intake
Ok Unics, pre-season has officially started for me. Jim, I have found the best way to get everyones legs awake after a sluggish few months. All we need to do is sell a few more boxes of chocolate and get everyone
Matt and his cows
he just can't escape herds of cattle. We are on an island across from elephant lake, very cute little farms and village people
over to Vietnam. Heres the program we have undertaken the last few days.
Get yourself a support mini-bus stocked full of food and water, cold towels and toliet paper. Also hire a ute to carry your bikes should you feel like dying. Grab a couple of the local cycling champions, some mountain bikes and get going! We rode 90km in 6hours, across terrain I never thought I would ever ride through. It started off with a rolling 10km towards the Dinh Linh State Forest to warm up, with plenty of waving and cheering from the locals, really got you pumped up. Their voices were soon forgetten as we approached the 20degree incline for the hardest 5km of my life. It was seriously so bad, i almost called in the support bus and we were only an hour in! I suck!
We then had 2 runs of 10km each directly downhill. descending from 1300m to sea level in about 40mins, crazy! We were clocked by our support cyclist as doing 60kmph, he said he'd never met such crazy girls before! We had some very near stacks around the haripin turns, but everyone arrived at lunch safe and sound. After
Inside the long house
what spacious accomodation! enough room for bugs and us!
a 30min break we hit around 8km of unsealed road, complete with massive rocks and pot holes, often there was no clear path to follow at all. the locals on motorbikes were laughing hysterically at us, not very encouraging! Another short rest, then probably the hardest part, around 40km of flat fard road through minority villages and rice paddies. The sun was turned on full ball, about 38 degrees with really minimal shade. We were reapplying sunscreen as often as we could, but all ended up with some pretty disasterous sock lines! At the end of six hours and 90km we arrived sore and stuffed, but all pretty chuffed with our day.
Miraculously end up in paradise at the end of the ride (Mui Ne). Matt and I have a bungalow literally with the water at our doorstep (hopefully no typhoons!). Spent the day doing a 7am recovery walk on the beach, followed by plenty of water and intermittent swimming in the sea. Re-hydrating for day 3...
Wake up at 4.30am to get into a jeep before the sun comes up. Arrive at sand dunes as the sun is coming over the horizon. Then
Well worth it
the view from the top of the 5km uphill ride, all down and flat from here thank god!
without any brekkie in your tummy, proceed to climb up sandunes repeatedly and slide down on boards, not forgetting to scream the whole way down the slope! Best way to wake up your calves, climbing dunes at 6am for an hour!
Continue on to climb in a red sand canyon, take in a fishing village, then finish off the morning with a 1km trek in a stream to a waterfall for a shower. Lovely start to preseason!
Matt and I have now left the group and are in Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Cu Chi tunnels and Phu Quoc Island for some r and r before leaving for Thailand on the 23rd. Phew! Sorry this is so long!
Hope everyone is well and getting ready for a great Christmas! Miss you all
There are more photos below