Now that I'm smack bang in the middle of the tourist trail, the Vietnam adventure just keeps getting better. After a fabulous spell on the beach at Nha Trang, it was time to keep on rolling. Although the famous resort town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, it's surprising how far one has to travel to get to Cam Ranh airport. Granted it's an accident of geography, but a taxi ride from Nha Trang is around 50 kilometres from town, including having to navigate a winding hill pass. But once travellers arrive at the clean and modern airport, it's easy to bliss out under the luxurious air conditioning. Vietjet airlines check in and subsequent flight proved smooth sailing, and before long I landed in wonderful Hoi An. As discussed in the previous blog, there's no way I'd consider a long and cramped bus journey in Vietnam, so a little money spent on airfares were the least of my worries.
And so here I am in Hoi An, where I'll base myself for the remainder of the trip. Although I visited 20 years ago, I have no real recollection of the city, and can't manage to
dredge up any photos so the experience feels like it's brand new. Once again I chose to stay by the beach, and checked in to a hostel with super friendly staff that was loaded with friendly guests, and less than 100 metres from Ha My beach. I dumped the bags, and made a point of heading to the beach in the late afternoon. This has been the first time in my travels I recall having the chance to swim and sunbake in two different cities on the same day; bumming around at Nha Trang beach in the morning and Hoi An in the afternoon. I came back that evening to sample Cau Lau, a traditional pork based noodle dish and speciality of Hoi An cuisine. The kitchen staff did a great job of producing this delicious dish. Fortunately a French guy had already booked on a day trip to Hue the next day, and I jumped at the opportunity to join in the adventure.
We woke early next morning, and the driver picked us up at 8:00am in a spanking new Kia with nice air conditioning. The journey to Hue included a drive up through the Hai Van pass,
providing magnificent views of the the coast looking back on Hoi An, and looking forward in the direction of Hue. The pass is a very popular tourist destination in it's own right, and would be super fun on a motorbike. But on a steaming hot day I was grateful to be in a car with the aircon cranking. We arrived in Hue before noon, and the driver dropped us off at the Imperial City with 3 hours to explore. I loved the experience, and took loads of photos and videos of the magnificent structures within the ancient city. There's also two other ancient complexes nearby to cap off an unforgettable day in the beautiful city..The complexes are magnificently maintained and scenic, almost beyond belief. We arrived back by the beach in Hoi An around 5:00pm after an exhilarating day of exploring.
A school friend from home has been following my trip on facebook, and put me in touch with his cousin who runs a business and lives in Hoi An. This chance meeting proved the catalyst for an unforgettable time in the beautiful city. I decided to move accommodation, as I've had my fill of dorm living, and luxuriated
in my own room at a nearby homestay for the remainder of the visit. My mate's cousin got in touch and we hooked up for lunch, where I met his Vietnamese partner and a close friend at a superb restaurant. I was in heaven as we sat next to a powerful fan for an afternoon of fine dining and beers over pleasant conversation. To my surprise my host paid for the glorious meal, and without hesitation handed over his motorbike to use for the remainder of the trip. The generosity from a man I'd just met is overwhelming, and I feel very fortunate. That evening I went for an initial explore of the Old Town of Hoi An and an absolute knockout. The UNESCO coloured buildings with multi-coloured lamps by the river are a sublime sight, and the place is positively heaving with tourists after dark. The next day the city copped heavy rain all day, but I still managed to ride in to explore the Old Town before evening fell.
During the course of the coming days my routine comprised of the beach in the morning, catching up with my host over long and leisurely lunches in the
city, and further exploration of the Old Town after dark. It was a perfect combination during a week in the city. I went to explore my new friend's store Hot Chili in the centre of the Old Town, and also visited the factory where his team prints the cool clothing up for sale. And what can I say about the food of Hoi An, except to exclaim it's simply delicious! The highlight of the trip is Green Chili restaurant in the centre of town, where European trained master chef Nando served us meals on par with the gastronomic delights I've sampled anywhere. To commemorate my visit, Nando laid on a degustation delight on the last day in the city that will live on in my memory.
My friend organised a driver as I was heading on to Danang, and wanted to make a day of it by visiting the Sunworld cable car complex less than 20 kilometres out of the city. I was able to luxuriate by the ocean that morning, and the driver was waiting at the hotel before noon. We headed out to Sunworld at the foot of the Bana Hills, and now the most popular tourist
destination in Vietnam. To be honest I was somewhat overwhelmed by the massive crowds in the carpark and at the entrance to the complex. Despite three separate cable car destinations I managed to blunder across the ride up the Bana Hills to the Golden Bridge straight off the bat; to enjoy the new must see tourist destination in Vietnam. The beautiful gold bridge curves around, and is seemingly held up by giant hands. It's completely packed with tourists, but I managed to get great shots and footage, and simply adored the wonderful travel attraction. I met up with the driver at the appointed time despite the masses of people, cars, and tourist buses for the trip in to the city of Danang.
My night in bustling Danang commenced with a drop off at a centrally located hostel. Fortunately the visit coincided with a huge fireworks display scheduled that evening.The hostel staff gave me the good oil on the best location to view the fireworks over the river, and despite the huge crowds I got some great footage with the local crowds oohing and aahing on the bridge over the river. What a perfect conclusion to three wonderful weeks in
Vietnam. I was up at sparrows the next morning for a domestic flight to Ho Chi Minh city, where I relaxed and reminisced on the trip before a late evening flight home to Sydney. It's been 20 years since my last visit to Vietnam and clearly some things will never change, basically all of you should be here now!
"Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you're going to live your life. " Joel Osteen
It's home time, so until next time I'm signing off for now
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