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Published: March 25th 2009
It just keeps getting better!
- Quy Nhon 17th - 20th March 2009
The previous nights 1:30am walk of 5km carrying our fully weighted rucksacks actually made little impact on the following day’s energy levels, despite having only managed 4 hours sleep the reason being; as we’ve travelled further south the temperature has gradually increased from quite cold in the north, until here in Quy Nhon where it’s actually beginning to get so warm it’s difficult to sleep at night.
I only managed to find a little information regarding Quy Nhon on the internet as it doesn’t seem to attract a lot of visitors, perhaps due to its close proximity to Hoi An and Nha Trang both of which are supposed to offer more for the tourist.
I’ll admit Quy Nhon didn’t seem particularly interesting at a glance, and in fact the only point of interest I had managed to read about, an American tank half buried in the sand on the beach, abandoned when the Yanks conceded defeat in Vietnam War, has now been removed. The locals in Quy Nhon pointed out the ‘go home China’ statue on a headland, a statue of a soldier pointing north
to China, created after the 1979 Chinese invasion of Vietnam , but we then found out we couldn’t visit it because it’s on Military land. I read one blog mentioning Quy Nhon in which the guy questioned why he’d even bothered to visit the place; however that’s certainly not the impression I had about the place after spending 3 days there.
We spent the first day lazing on the not particularly impressive and un-shaded, yet breezy beach and sunbathed. We had been told and read the sea in this bay wasn’t especially clean but it didn’t stop me having a swim. After all, we swam in the sea in Cambodia and it couldn’t possibly be dirtier than Sianhoukville! I was just careful not to get water in my ears or to swallow any and a week later writing this - I’m still alive!
While staying in Quy Nhon town, we stayed at a place called ‘Barbara’s Kiwi Café’ which we’d phoned a day before arriving. This place is supposedly a ‘hostel’ and to be fair, it did have beds for 50,000VND (~$3) a night but that’s about as hostel like as it gets. Firstly it only had a
grand total of 6 beds, i.e. most people who arrived got turned away, and the food and drink in the place was ridiculously priced. An omelette was 35,000VND without bread. Bread was an extra 5,000VND - I could buy it cheaper and of better quality in the UK! The one meal we did have there was mediocre at best too.
The second day we escaped Quy Nhon to explore the coast by motorbike. The ride was absolutely fantastic and we passed endless uninhabited and desolate beaches just begging us to explore them and have a swim. We rode all the way to Song Cau, a small fishing town 60km south where we stopped for a drink much to the surprise of the locals who were staring at us in bemusement. ‘Why are these foreigners here?’ They were probably thinking to themselves. If you want to see a real Vietnamese fishing village, Song Cau certainly represents that, though I’m not sure for how much longer that will be the case looking at the development of the area taking place.
A new coastal road has been built stretching 30km south of Quy Nhon after which it merges with highway 1A
- one of the main North/ South trunk roads of Vietnam. Pretty much the entire distance of this road, whilst unspoiled at the moment, had signs that it had been targeted for development and you could see huge land clearings starting to take place with the obvious intention of building holiday resorts there in the future. From a business perspective the area is perfect; endless deserted beaches with soft white sand and clean sea, well connected by major roads, close to other touristy cities people may want to have day trips to - sadly they’ll probably ruin the area (in my eyes at least). The local people will probably welcome the idea as a huge source of new income though.
Most of the day we spent on a single beach we’d found about 20km south of the town. It wasn’t completely desolate as perhaps around 30 local people lived along the beach in a mixture of wooden and concrete shacks. The small beach had white sand, lots of shade from coconut and pine trees which lined the beach and perfectly clear turquoise waters - heaven!
One great thing for me, the people in Vietnam are so friendly and
just love to have their picture taken. I saw a group of locals lazing in the midday heat as I walked down the beach to explore and they called me over. I wasn’t sure what they wanted, but it turned out they just wanted their photos taken and to look at their pictures on the LCD of the camera. I love photography, but I’m so terrible at capturing people and I really want to improve this aspect, so a good opportunity to practice. Looking at the photos afterwards I made some fundamental errors but I’ve hopefully now learnt from those mistakes so it was worthwhile and good fun.
Our third and final day in Quy Nhon we spent exploring the town itself. True, there is nothing remarkable to be found, but again I though it represented a truer picture of the real Vietnam. The place hasn’t been affected by tourism and wondering around the back alleys of the town getting strange looks from the locals, and people shouting things at you in English was a rewarding experience. Quy Nhon isn’t particularly wealthy as a town but the people here have a good standard of living, each with their own
house of varying sizes and quality. The narrow alleys made colourful with the addition of many flowers and brightly painted homes gave me an impression of what it might be like to live here.
I honestly believe living in a tropical country there just isn’t the need to be wealthy like there is in a colder country. If you consider that GDP per person in Vietnam is only 1/5th of that in China, or 1/80th of the UK on a per person basis their lives certainly don’t reflect such a huge discrepancy. I’m not quite sure why, however I suppose it has something to do with not needing so many things; heaters, warm housing, insulation, 100 layers of clothing, etc. There are so many things you don’t need if you live in the tropics. Food is abundant and only a small piece of land will produce a serious quantity of food, plus when it’s 35 degrees you can take a great deal of enjoyment from doing nothing too, so you don’t need so many things to entertain you. I’m only looking from the outside though, so who knows!
Either way, in summary Quy Nhon is a great place
to have visited. I’m glad we went. Next stop; DaLat in the Vietnamese Central Highlands area and I can’t wait! This trip has been getting better and better the further south we’ve gone!
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