Imperial Hue, Cute Hoi An, diving Nha Trang and 2 more night buses !!

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February 8th 2013
Published: February 8th 2013
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Days 140-141 (Fri 25th – Sat 26thJan) Hue

So I arrived in Hue after the night bus getting in around 9am. I knew this would be too early to check in plus it was hammering it down with rain so I got breakfast with 2 Swiss girls before heading off to my hostel. I checked in but my room wasn’t ready which was a pain as I was shattered. When I finally got into my room I had a brief nap for an hour or so. I tend to get none or very little sleep on these overnight ventures. I get what seems like jet lag but from a coach. Most of these trips are far longer than any flight I’ve been on. I tend to need most the following day to recover.

I headed out in the afternoon towards the citadel. I got there, saw the entry fee, realised the weather wasn’t great and decided I’d chance going the day after when the forecast was meant to be better.

In the evening I pretty much did nothing and watched a film or 2. Got my head down ready for the citadel in the morning. I woke up, had breakfast and headed to the citadel in the sun. I for once got it right waiting a day and hopefully the pictures show that.

The citadel is pretty impressive and quite quiet in terms of tourists. The place itself is set over a large area so it is easy enough to find spots to take good pictures without having to have others in the shots. The citadel was pretty much ruined during the many conflicts and has been getting reconstructed at various times for years. This to me makes some of it seem a little unoriginal than I’d like but I suppose seeing it as it was is better than seeing wrecked buildings all over the place. This was also Australia day so it was nice to be away from the hostel where every Australian was drinking from 8am whilst they streamed in an Aussie radio channel. By tea time most these people were in bed drunk as skunks.

I did very little in the evening once again but headed to a restaurant I’d been told to go to called Nina’s cafe and it was very good indeed. The food in Hue is very good and cheap at it. I did find it however a strange place. I was expecting as the imperial capital lots of old buildings and a certain atmosphere about the place, what it seemed was that people were only there to party which I found odd. I’ve also never been offered so many drugs, prostitutes and all sorts from randoms on scooters. They are everywhere. 2 days was more than enough for me in Hue.

Days 142-144 (Sun 27th – Tue 29th Jan) Hoi An

Hoi An is a mere 3 hours by bus from Hue so I was glad for that. I got checked into my hostel and proceeded to have an afternoon nap. I then headed out for the evening to watch the Australian open final and get drunk.

I watched the match in this lovely bar I found, possibly the most expensive one in Hoi An but they had huge screens and good beer. After the game I headed to a recommended restaurant for tea. They also served 3000 dong beers here. The place was called Cafe 43 and 3000 dong is 9p in sterling so by far the cheapest drink I’ve ever drunk. I made sure I had plenty with my tea to even out the beer prices from the previous bar. After getting suitably drunk I went back to the original bar as it was on my way home. I spent a couple hours playing pool with a scouse and irish lad which was a decent way to end the day. We all left together, they hopped on taxi scooters and I walked. On returning to my hostel there they were, but I was 20000 dong better off, or 6 beers in Cafe 43.

Monday I was a little hungover so spent a lot of the day in bed. I pretty much only headed out to get lunch and tea. I did return to cafe 43 for tea but resisted the home brew. I was invited by a couple friends from Ha Long Bay to go out to a nightclub called Volcano. 100000 dong (3 quid) all you can drink spirits. By this time I could have drank but felt it wise not too. I am getting only slightly better at saying ‘No.’

Tuesday morning I was feeling fresh and did some wandering about in Hoi An. The town remind me of Luang Prabang in Laos with it’s cute streets, many shops with wooden signs all very similar and a generally nice feel about the place. There is however nothing to do or see and I’d walked every street in around 2 hours. I spent the afternoon using the hostels fast internet to catch up on some tv and write this blog.

In the evening, myself and a fair few others from the hostel hopped on a bus to Nha Trang, this was only due to be 12 hours. That is good and short for Vietnam.

5 of us took up the back row and we all lay down and got comfortable. Very soon 4 of us were asleep, bar me who however tired I get cannot fall asleep unless star fished it seems. 2 of the group were on my Ha Long Bay trip and we’d all booked same hostel in Nha Trang so on arrival in the morning we walked there.

Days 145 - 146 (Wed 30th – Thurs 31st Jan) Nha Trang

After checking in we got breakfast and waited to be let into the room. Myself and Janice (Germany from Ha Long Bay trip) went for a wander around a few streets and to the beach to have a look. It’s a really good beach around 4km in length with some good winds so the waves break 30 metres before the shore and reach maybe 5 feet in height. Once you get through those swimming is easy but getting there is trickier. I watched 2 old women attempt to get in the water in the hop they’d get wiped out by the waves. Unfortunately this didn’t happen and I got bored. We headed back to hostel to check in.

We were all tired so once again had a nap. On waking up the 2 other people in our hostel room were 2 of the girls from our bus, (Sandra and Shandy, Canadian). In the evening we headed out for drinks bar Shandy. She’s been the unfortunate recipient of a cloned debit card so has had to cut back and shorten her trip by a few weeks which is a shame. The rest of us proceeded to drink happy hour beers and then buckets of what I think was vodka red bull but I am not 100%!s(MISSING)ure on that.

It was a good night out and we had plenty of laughs. It was just a shame that my hangover the following morning/afternoon was horrendous. Janice and Robbie left in the morning whereas I stayed in bed all day pretty much. The girls decided to stay for 1 more night. Our room was filled with 3 german lads who were also on our bus there. They all went out in the evening but after tea I headed back to my room as I have a very early start in the morning.

Nha Trang is very touristy, as it has some of the best diving and snorkelling in Vietnam and such a large beach. There are also direct flights to it from places such as Moscow so there are a lot of them knocking about. It reminded me of the coast in Spain but here is definitely nicer.

I popped to the dive shop in the afternoon and got my day’s diving sorted and a book I needed to read up on before going the following morning.

Day 147 (Fri 1st Feb) Nha Trang

I woke up at 7:01am. This was significant as I was due at the dive shop at 6:45am. I realised although my alarm was on, it was on silent. I was just lucky that I woke up otherwise I’d have missed it. I threw on my shorts and t shirt and legged it up the road to the dive shop. I was not however the last there which was handy.

I have not been diving since the end of November and I am glad to once again be by the sea side with the opportunity to do it. Being underwater is so much better than being above it.

We set off pretty much straight away to the dock where we boarded a boat to go to the dive site. This was around 45 minutes away and I got briefed by my instructor on what we’d be doing. I’m now taking my advanced open water course so it’s a bit more informative and aimed at improving your techniques under water, as it’s not as easy as it looks all the time.

There were around 15 of us on the boat but I was the only one doing my advanced course so I got an instructor to myself which is always better.

My first dive was in peak buoyancy performance, not my strong point it seems. Due to my lung size and body size I found some bits tricky. I can dive with no problems at all but once I stop moving underwater I either sink or start rising. At one point I had to go through 3 hula hoops on the sea bed at different heights and angles, around 15 metres down. With my shoulders, massive head and a oxygen tank on my back there was maybe an inch of leeway, and then given that on breathing you generally rise or fall due to air pressure I kept getting the hoops caught on me. I got there in the end though.

My second dive was to do with navigation underwater. This required me to be able to know how far I was going by counting strokes and also which direction I was taking. Your tested to be able to go 10 kick cycles in a square using your compass to get back to where you started. I nailed it, had absolutely no problems in this sessions. The dives were educational and also enjoyable. The visibility wasn’t the best as Nha Trang is in low season but there were a wide variety of fish, not as many as in the Philippines where I did my open water but it was good nonetheless.

We headed back to the dock after the 2 dives and some food on board the boat, lots of fruit and sandwiches although I needed something a bit more so had a baked potato on arrival back.

I went out in the evening to an Indian which is highly ranked on trip advisor. I had the madras as in a couple months I will be gracing Chennai and India and that is there speciality. It was the best curry I’ve had and is getting me excited for authentic Indian food, regardless of whether it ruins my bowels. Tomorrow I move on to Da Lat on yet another bus.

Next – Da Lat and Mui Ne

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