A Travellerspoint blog

A nice sleeper bus...shock horror!

semi-overcast 32 °C
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We had planned to go and lie on the beach this morning before our 1pm bus to Saigon. But when we woke up, the weather was against us...cloudy and windy! So instead we had a lazy morning re-packing our bags and getting some planning done for some of the rest of our trip.


The seven hour bus to Saigon was (in comparison to many other bus trips we've taken) amazing! It was a sleeper bus but in stark comparison to our last one, it was clean, modern and spacious. Bliss! We arrived in Saigon happy ladies although that didn't last due to another taxi driver trying to con us. The tactic this driver used was to drive in a massive semi circle to take us to our hotel therefore taking five times as long as it should have. Needless to say, we didn't pay him what he wanted! And he didn't even try to argue it!!

After checking into our hotel, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Pizza Hut before getting an early night. We're up early tomorrow to go and visit the Cu Chi tunnels!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 05:08 Archived in Vietnam Tagged saigon muine Comments (0)

A lot of underwhelming sandy locations

sunny 31 °C
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Early this morning we left Dalat and headed to Mui Ne, somewhere that was not on our original schedule but was a bit of a last minute addition a few days ago when we realised we had a day spare! We should have known it was going to be a bad day when we realised we were making the 4 hour trip with the mouldy bus company (otherwise known as An Phu) again! Our mode of transport was like the weird love child of a minivan and bus, with nowhere to put our big backpacks! The result was people sat in the aisles (not us thankfully!), bags flying everywhere during emergency braking (of which there was plenty!) and finally a bag half rammed onto my already pretty small chair! After two hours of very strange seating positions in order to be able to fit in the seat with Tam, I finally had a hissy fit and moved the luggage around into what I thought was a sensible order. The Chinese man behind me disagreed, but by then it was his problem and not mine for the remaining hour of our journey!


Yet again, we didn't have accomodation booked at Mui Ne, but we grabbed a taxi into "town" (one small street of shops and restaurants) and quite easily found a very nice backpackers place with a room free. We even had a balcony! We booked onto what seemed a rather expensive tour of the local sights and then went to get lunch. Lunch was an epic fail, but the views of the beach were OK.

We were back in time for our jeep tour...... I'm not sure if we were seriously jaded by the days events so far, or our expectations were high following the easy rider tour, or what, because the pictures have come out well, but it felt like the most pointless four hours of our lives! So, the sights:


1. Fairy stream. A stream. Granted the sand was pretty cool, being red in some places and white in others. Pretty, but the hoardes of tourists ruined it a little. I know, I know, we were among them! But I feel that if a place is teaming with tourists then it should offer more than Fairy Stream did!


2. Fishing village - or so it was advertised. What we actually went to was a pavement on the side of the road that overlooked the bay of the fishing village. A nice picture but not much else!


3. White sand dunes. A lot of white sand with people driving quad bikes on them (including us, although Tammy did most of the driving! She might have nearly killed us a couple of times, but I definitely would have killed us if I'd spent too long behind the wheel!).


4. The red canyon. Not a canyon, just an old stream bed which was red. I guess that if you like red stuff then you would have loved it. The graffiti was a little sad, as was all the rubbish!


5. Red sand dunes, where we were meant to watch sunset. Loads of people, a view of the sunset which would have been obstructed by power lines had we bothered to stay for it, and yet more rubbish.


FAIL! Our tour guide topped the whole experience off by being incredibly rude and having a serious lack of respect for our safety when driving! If we got five words out of him in the whole four hours we were with him then I would be surprised! Our fifteen minute stop at a petrol station was nice too! Hands down, worlds worst tour guide!

Highlight of the day - dinner! Salad and pizza! Yum! Although, even that wasn't hassle free thanks to power cuts, weird, masked fanning men, and the most god awful musical parade for tet! Defnitely bed time I think, before this day gets any worse!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 04:52 Archived in Vietnam Tagged muine Comments (0)

Biker chicks!

sunny 26 °C
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Today was our Dalat Easy Rider tour. Ted and his colleague, Tai, met us early this morning to start our tour. As soon as we got on the bikes, we gladly realised that it would be a much more comfortable ride than our motorbike tour around the tombs in Hue. And the helmets we were given to wear were proper motorbike helmets...health and safety is clearly on the radar of Dalat Easy Riders. Yay!

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First stop today was the Golden Budhha on top of a big hill here in Dalat. It's huge! And the views of the town from the top of the hill were amazing. It was here that Ted explained to us that the huge mansion type houses we could see all belonged to farmers, something which surprises even Vietnamese tourists in Dalat. The plentiful flower farms in Dalat make a lot more money than crop and rice farms elsewhere in the country. We also went into the Buddhist temple by the Golden Buddha. Inside it was decorated with mosaic which used glass bottle and crockery pieces. And outside the gardens were filled with bonsai trees. Very pretty.


The next stop was at a flower farm. Tai gave us a tour around this farm. This time of year is the busiest time for these farms as it is the lead up to Tet, the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated across Asia. The flowers from here are sent all over Vietnam and to neighbouring countries like Cambodia. We saw many boxes marked for the Mekong Delta!

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Other stops on the tour included an old South Vietnam army base on top of a massive hill (which we had to walk up!), another flower farm, a silk worm farm, a silk factory, a waterfall where we did some "rock climbing" called Elephant Waterfall (from the top, the grassy rocks look like elephants), a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch and the Laughing Buddha temple. We also made random stops along the journey at view points to take photos and to see a bit of the local way of life. We stopped when Ted and Tai saw giant sacks of vegetales being hauled down a hill and getting packed into a truck. We were told these sacks could weigh up to 80kg and the men carrying them probably only weigh about 50kg! We also got to see some fishing in one of the rivers.

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The penultimate stop was at a coffee producer just outside of Dalat which produces one of the famous coffees of the region, Weasel Coffee. So we had to try it! This coffee is made by feeding the coffee beans to weasels. The weasels then excrete this, the coffee beans are cleaned (we hope!) and then used to brew coffee in the normal way. It tasted strong! And bitter! And I don't think we'll be trying it again. We decided that it definitely wasn't worth the price (it's five times more expensive than regular coffee) so we'll stick to the cheap stuff from now on!

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And the final stop was at a very unusual looking Catholic church...it had dragons on the roof!

It's an early start for us in the morning (a 7am bus to Mui Ne) so we've just grabbed some fresh baguettes from a road seller for dinner and will enjoy them whilst watching some movies tonight!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 06:48 Archived in Vietnam Tagged dalat Comments (0)

New Year take 2 begins!

semi-overcast 25 °C
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According to many internet threads and the lonely planet (!) one of the best ways to see Vietnam is on the back of a motorbike. But this is a very expensive way to travel! So Tam and I compromised and decided to head to Dalat, in the central highlands, to see a bit more of the country on a one day easy rider tour. So today we set off on a 4 hour bus ride inland. It is the first time we've winged it and not booked accomodation before we get to a place. This was mostly because the place we wanted to stay wouldn't reply to our emails and didn't have a phone number, and we couldn't be bothered to search for anywhere else online! So when we turned up at the bus station far out of town in the late afternoon we hailed a taxi and headed to our preferred choice of guesthouse, hoping they would have a room. They didn't. So we wandered off in search of a home for the night.

Just down the road we found a hotel that was well within our budget and had an OK looking twin room, so we took it. It turns out we're both allergic to our room and the place is completely soulless, but it will do for two nights!

We immediately headed out to find a tour office where we could book an easy rider tour for the next day. We had only walked a few minutes down the road when we were accosted by a group of Vietnamese bikers.... Dalat Easy Riders. They were in the middle of a party to celebrate Tet (lunar new year), but one of the group, Ted, broke off for ten minutes to tell us about their tours and sign us up to one for the following day.

We were then ushered through to the party, sat at the table and given beer and food. Feeling that it would be rude to refuse them, we merrily ate and drank away the next couple of hours with our new biker friends. Weirdly, they all know the names of a number of Welsh football players and kept shouting them at random intervals to prove that they knew where Wales was! They also tried to teach us some Vietnamese, which we struggled with! But it was a very entertaining evening!

We decided to head back to our dusty room before we got completely hammered, thinking that it probably wasn't a good idea to be drunk/hung over on a motorbike the following day!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 21:22 Archived in Vietnam Tagged dalat nhatrang Comments (0)

Sunshine (ish)!

semi-overcast 28 °C
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We awoke this morning to more clouds! But today, we could see some blue sky trying to peep through and we were determined to lie in the sun and swim in the sea so decided to be optimistic and head to the beach!

By the time we got there, it was hot. And the sun was out in full force! We faffed around for fifteen minutes trying to decide whether or not to pay for sun loungers for the day. Concluding it wasn't worth it, we wandered down the beach and found a nice shady spot under a wooden parasol that was past it's best and so no longer used by the overpriced sun lounger sellers!


We spent a pleasant few hours sunbathing and going in and out of the sea. The sea was a little rough for my liking but the water was the perfect temperature so I braved it regardless!


The wind picked up in the early afternoon and it started to feel a little chilly so we called it a day. My Granny had told me, on her friend's recommendation, that Jo and I should try the seafood sold on the beach here in Vietnam, so we stopped off on route back to our hostel. And I'm so glad we did! The prawns were probably the tastiest prawns I've ever eaten. Delicious! And Jo tried a scallop too which she said was amazing. We will now be on the lookout for seafood sellers on the beach wherever we go!

This afternoon, owing to the "bad" weather, we caught up on some life admin before going back to the Vietnamese restaurant we went to last night for dinner. I'm pleased to report that both dishes tonight were edible!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 21:20 Archived in Vietnam Tagged nhatrang Comments (0)

Mud and dark alleyways!

overcast 25 °C
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Today we woke early, despite the late night, in order to get down to the beach and nab a sun lounger before the Russians beat us to them all! After getting ready, we threw open the curtains for a look at the glorious weather only to find a blanket of cloud!

Feeling a little defeated we went to breakfast and there we hatched a plan to go to the local hot springs and mud baths. Luckily we got there before much of the rush, and paid the extra pound or so to upgrade to a rather luxurious day. We were first of all herded to the mud bath - lierally a bath filled with mud. It was very deep and Tam and I could float in the mud whilst looking at the beautiful mountain scenery and trying to ignore the very loud Russian tour group nearby! Post mud, we were led to an isolated mineral hot tub, where we soaked for 45 minutes whilst enjoying Vietnamese coffee and yoghurt - yum! This was followed by a one hour massage and then a swim in the hot mineral pool. After this Tam went for a shower whilst I went for a swim in the cold mineral pool. After some vegetable fried rice, we headed back home.

That evening we went out in search of a market that was shown on our free map, thinking it might be a night market that we could have a wander around. But as we walked further and further from the hostel we seemed to enter more and more local territory, and more and more dark alleys! After nearly being run down by the local motorbike riders for the fifth time, we decided to turn around and head back into the more touristy area! We found a very busy Vietnamese restaurant on our walk home, waited ten minutes for a table and then had one very tasty dish and one pretty disgusting one, although we're not sure which either dish is called! Trying new things is what travelling is all about though, right?! :-)

We'll try again for the beach tomorrow!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 01:33 Archived in Vietnam Tagged nhatrang Comments (0)

Six Nations!

overcast 25 °C
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We survived the grubby sleeper train! The mould looked even worse in the daylight. Yuck! Thankfully we were off the train by 830am!!

On arriving at our hostel (which is wonderfully close to the beach) we spent a long while faffing! And somehow we managed to score a free upgrade to a twin double room with a balcony!?!

Once we'd checked into our nice big room, we headed down to the beach. It wasn't quite hot enough to take a dip in the sea so we just read our books. And both managed to fall asleep!! By the time we'd woken up, the beach was deserted and it was cold!! I've no idea how long we slept for but it was probably a couple of hours. Oops!!

In the evening we went to the Booze Cruise bar as it was showing the rugby. After a burger and a beer we were set for some Six Nations action on the giant screen. Go England! Or in Jo's case, go Wales!


Once the "techincal difficulties" had been resolved the Wales vs Ireland match was on! Unfortunately for Jo the pub was full of Ireland fans who were obviously ecstatic at the result and were dancing around to Irish jig music the bar was playing for quite some time after the game.

But I'm happy to report that Jo did stay on to watch the England game with me :-) Even allowing Patch to get involved!!


Other events of the night include meeting a guy from London who set up a successful online company selling fruit jumpers and fruit hats. So random! And being unable to find any post beer snacks anywhere, resulting in me eating about ten rambutans (giant lychee type fruits) when we got back to our hostel at 1am whilst watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother on the tele!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 01:27 Archived in Vietnam Tagged nhatrang Comments (0)

Were they meant to plummet into the sea out there?

sunny 28 °C
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After some more fittings (we are definitely getting our monies worth from these tailors, and getting on their nerves in the process!) we rented some bicycles and cycled to the beach. It was a very pretty ride and the beach was beautiful! After a walk along by the sea, and watching an epic parasailing fail, where a couple got stranded out at sea (!), we headed back towards town. We stopped at a lovely little shack by the river for some gorgeous lunch! I had an entire squid stuffed with pork and a satay sauce... it is literally the best thing I've ever eaten! YUM! Ice cream followed and then we all headed back to town.

We invaded Felix and Sarah's room for a few hours before having to say a very, very sad farewell to them! We will not be seeing them again on our travels! But we hope to abuse their hospitality for OktoberFest later this year! Safe travels guys!

Now we're on the night train to Nha Trang and it is horrible and dirty (and we have already argued with the train staff a little bit!), but at least we have the cabin to ourselves! Whoop!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 00:18 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hoian Comments (0)

Worst day trip ever? Probably.

rain 20 °C
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Today the four of us decided to go on an organised day trip to visit My Son, which is a set of ruins from the ancient Cham Empire. It was probably the worst day trip we've been on in our four months of travelling! First of all, it wasn't a great day for a day trip...it was raining! Second of all, our tour guide seemed intent on rushing us around every place we went to that day and even resorted to shouting at members of the tour who didn't stick to his highly regimented plan! And third of all, I could barely understand a word he said. He spoke so fast and with such a thick accent that I'd be surprised if anyone actually learnt anything from the trip.

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My Son itself was nice though. It's essentially some temples in ruins in the jungle. After seeng My Son, we travelled part of the way back to Hoi An by boat. It was cold but they did feed us! On route we stopped at a woodwork village where, of course, our guide shouted at us if we spent too long in the "wrong" shop (clearly he wasn't getting enough commission from these ones)!

Finally we got back to Hoi An! We spent the rest of the day getting fittings in some of the tailors. Unfortunately I had to cancel my order for a suit as they'd run out of the only material I liked :-(

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After dinner in the evening, we went out for a few drinks but none of us had the energy for the big night out we'd planned. We decided to call it a night when a British girl disgraced herself (and our country). She was obviously very drunk and decided it was a great idea to get a Vietnamese guy to lie down in the street then gyrate her groin in his face in front of a packed bar of people. Everyone was shocked! We were horrified! Weird end to the night!!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 00:15 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hoian Comments (0)

Hangovers and old friends!

sunny 28 °C
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Today we woke with headaches, but they were quickly forgotten when we met up with Felix and Sarah, our friends from India, that morning at the hostel. After a quick catch up, we hit the streets of Hoi An with them for some serious shopping! This town is known for its tailors so where better to get some tailor made clothing?! Tam and I chose some serious work/graduation clothes, as well as some less serious blazers and winter coats! Felix and Sarah were more restrained!

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After all the shopping we needed some energy in the form of Pho Bo (noddle soup), a local delicacy! We managed to wander around the market near the river, and even sneak into a house museum (before getting shooed out!), before we were drawn back towards the shops!


When we finally made it back to the hostel we were in need of some serious R&R before we headed out to dinner by the river again! Given our drinking activities the night before, we ended the night rather early and are now back at the hostel getting ready for bed! We will do better tomorrow night!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 00:13 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hoian Comments (1)

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