The Vietnam adventure is really clicking in to top gear, as I commence a second week travelling in this diverse and fascinating country. Just a few hours out of Ho Chi Minh city is the coastal town of Vung Tau, and I thought it worth a visit as this destination hadn't figured in the previous trip to Vietnam. So it was time to climb aboard a coach for the morning and journey on down to the city. Granted It's been several years since my last visit to Southeast Asia (and I'm not sure if it's also a trend in other nearby countries) but the coaches I've been on feature a bizarre reclining seat set up as the only option. I can tell you, as a six foot tall foreigner the configuration is a total nightmare. Travellers have no option but to be either fully reclined in a capsule type environment with inadequate leg space, or trying to get semi upright and making do. Forget about the idea of sitting up like a normal person, you'd have to lose your head for that to be an option. And try getting in to a top 'bunk" which includes side fasteners that can't be
moved. I can't recall the last time I felt so ridiculous trying to worm my way like some giant slug in to position, with absolutely no space for a bag either! I can guarantee a couple of long distance bus journeys along these lines will have tall travellers searching online for Vietnam Airlines or Vietjet tickets in no time, if my experience is any indication. I've always loved bus journeys while travelling as it gives one a feel for the road and the coming adventures about to enfold, Well, that is until now!
Thankfully the bus journey was only a few hours, and boy was I glad to get out of that temporary coffin. Just as during my last visit, bus tickets in Vietnam are an absolute steal, and on this occasion included a minivan ride from the terminal to the hostel in the heart of the city. I checked in to Gecko hostel, a top rated option in the heart of Vung Tau. The city is on a peninsula, with just a few kilometres separating Front Beach from Back Beach. I spent the first day wandering around, and also took a taxi to get a feel for the
city. Vung Tau is nice and relaxing, but the beaches aren't picturesque, and I can understand why it's not one of the top travel destinations in the country. On the second day I organised a motorbike tour with a young guide, and she showed me the interesting sites around the city during the course of a fascinating afternoon. Unfortunately the weather closed in, but we stopped off to purchase a few ponchos, and as always the show must go on. I spent a third day in Vung Tau exploring, taking photos, and chatting to the friendly staff and guests at the hostel. There are several girls doing volunteer work for a time which is organised by the hostel, and in exchange they have free lodging and food for the duration of their time in the city.
I decided to push on north squeezed in to a bus capsule to Mui Ne, another town I hadn't previously visited. For this visit I decided on a self contained camp/hostel 10 kilometres from town and right on the beach. The restaurant and bar operate 24 hours a day, and there's a relaxed resort type feel about the place. Swimming and sunbaking and
going through the menu seems top of the agenda for guests who stay in options that include tents, dorm rooms, or private rooms. From Mui Ne tourists enjoy tours of the famous sand dunes, and generally just laze around enjoying the beach life. It seems the further north I head the better the weather is becoming, and I spent 3 days in Mui Ne under perfect blue skies. The trip is settling in to a nice rhythm now, and I'm enjoying all that Vietnam has to offer.
Although it was tempting to extend my visit, I decided to push on and endured another 5 hours squashed in to one of the bus capsules. However it was worth the effort to revisit the glorious coastal city of Nha Trang. After arriving here Vietnam suddenly has a tourist mecca feel, and the beach is the nicest I've come across during the trip. The main strip along the beach is dotted with accommodation options in apartment buildings, and the resort town is chock-a-block full of Russian holidaymakers. Some travellers have a negative sentiment about the Russian influence of Nha Trang, but I've enjoyed the visit to the fullest. The beach is full
of tourists, providing more communal security as you leave your bag to go for a swim, and the food is a quantum leap above anything I've experienced on the trip so far. It seems every restaurant I tried has been better than the last, and the prices are incredibly affordable. The sun's been out every day as I revel in perfect beach weather, while firmly ensconced in the quiet and friendly Vitamin Sea hostel.
Nha Trang beach stretches for several kilometres, and some of the resorts that line the beach are absolutely stunning. The water is safe for swimming, and has a unique feature of being very deep from the moment you take a few steps off the sand. So it's just a case of step, step, and dive. It's so wonderful in Nha Trang, and there's always the option of a superb meal just around the corner. I certainly understand the appeal of this city as a tourist mecca, and my second time in paradise has been every bit as enjoyable as the last visit all those years ago. At the conclusion of two weeks in Vietnam, having visited several destinations with still more to come dare I
suggest, basically all of you should be here now!
"Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy." Frank Sinatra
As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now
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