22nd of January 2016:
The bus ride to Nha Trang was interesting, it was only 5 hours so you wouldn’t believe much would happen however after 4 hours we finally pulled over so people could go to the bathroom. The toilet wasn’t the worst I’ve seen but you had to bucket water in because it doesn’t flush. As I was walking out this lady yells at me saying the bus is leaving! I look up and the bus is actually moving, I then run for 2 metres realising there’s 5 people in front trying to get on. So I ran back to tell Nick to hurry up, even though there’s another 5 or so people in the bathroom still. As I’m standing at the door making sure it doesn’t leave without Nick I inhale a massive puff of smoke. As I turn to see where it came from I notice our bus driver is smoking a “bong” before he gets back on. That makes me feel so safe!
As we pulled up to Nha Trang from a 5 hour bus journey I was bombarded by men asking so many questions trying to get me to go into their taxi. It was quite daunting trying to squeeze through the gap and ignore the forever sounds of, “where you going?” Surrounding my head. Thankfully our hostel was within walking distance so we headed off down the unknown chaotic roads. The footpaths were taken up by scooters, so the road it was, where buses, cars, scooters, bikes and walkers tried to occupy a small piece of the road. We got to a point where we believed the hostel should be close and yet we couldn’t quite see it, we had no wifi and therefore felt a overwhelming sense of confusion. At this point the little sunburn I received on my shoulders were throbbing from the backpack, Nick asked a man in the pub next to us if he knew where it was and awkwardly it was right in front of us the whole time.
We had booked a 10 person dorm room but thankfully to the wonderful woman she asked if we would like to spend $1 dollar more to get two private rooms. I don’t know why but each bed I’ve slept in here in Vietnam is the hardest bed possible, even if you push down on it the bed does not move it’s like sleeping on bricks.
23rd of January 2016:
Nha Trang for us was a stop over for a day so we wouldn’t have to do a 17 hour bus ride! It’s quite a big city and surprisingly there are a lot of Russians here. Even on the street the signs are in Vietnamese and Russian. The people on the street ask you if you speak English or Russian. Also, there are so many Russians actually working in the city. It was a nice beach, where the water was so flat it looked as if it was a river. We then walked 2km to a market, for some reason this market made my spine tingle. It felt like a bad aura hovering over the entangling crowded market. The landscape reminded me of the most recent Hunger games as it was in the middle of a big rundown half circle concrete building. I was happy to get out of there. As we walked back it was so blisteringly hot, I felt as if I had been stuck in a desert for days, my legs were hurting from walking 10km in the concrete jungle they call Nha Trang. It was good to see Nha Trang but I wouldn’t recommend more than a day as it is just another city, with a nice beach to lie on.
At 6:30pm we hopped on the sleeper bus to go to Ha Noi. This adventure was definitely one I will never forget. 12 hours on a bus you would hope that something exciting would come about and trust me it did, but not for the right reasons. The bus picked us up from our hotel, which was quite convenient, except they literally didn’t stop for us we were giving them our bags and trying to jump on the bus as it’s still moving. I still have no idea why it didn’t stop because it stopped for everyone else.
After an hour back tracking through Nha Trang we arrived at a bus depot. I was very confused why we waited another hour sitting at a bus depot until… 15 local Vietnamese men ran on and sat down in the aisles. I felt as if we were smuggling them in. They gave me the creeps though, the way they stared at you, judging you and assessing what possessions you may have. Eventually the men took free seats on the bus, and I drifted off to sleep. Unfortunately Nick was in the aisle seat so he couldn’t hide his possessions against the wall, and therefore his watch got stolen at some point in the night. If it wasn’t bad enough smuggling people in at the bus depot and some point in the middle of the night people came through the emergency escape door on the roof. I would NEVER recommend the bus service we went on to any body. Choose the blue buses NOT the red ones! All our bags were shoved inside whilst they used the bottom compartment and transport for who knows what! But… It was a unique experience to say the least.
24th of January 2016:
At 7:30am we arrive in Hoi An a wonderful ancient town. This place is by far my favourite city I’ve visited so far. Once again we were in walking distance of our hostel. The lady was so wonderful she let us use one of her spare rooms to have a shower and freshen up before our room was ready. We then started our exploring of the wonderful ancient town. The old town area is only allowed people walking and bicycles so it’s a nice escape from the speeding scooters everywhere. As you look at the buildings you can see the history and culture untwined into every building. The architecture reminded me of a combination of Asia and Europe. The buildings had a nice rich yellow colour that has dated over the years. You can see the damage the numerous flooding’s the buildings have endured throughout the years, one being most recently in 2013. The streets are joined by colourful hanging lanterns, and the islands are joined by ancient bridges that light up at night. The first day we were here, it was raining so we couldn’t explore as much as I would have liked but it was so nice to cuddle up to one of the BEST hot chocolates whilst you watch the rain come down. If you thought the day was magical wait until night time, everywhere you turned it was a blur of colours and life. We had dinner at a place called morning glory. It is owned by the first cooking school there and all the food looked amazing! Unfortunately I just didn’t pick very well, so I was a bit food envy.
The next day we hired bicycles for $1 for the day. This enabled us to see so much more of what this amazing town can offer. As we headed off to the beach, we found a little road that entwined through rice fields and men riding water buffaloes. This was the first time it was truly quiet, no beeping, no yelling just the sounds of the birds. As we arrived to the beach a lady with a whistle tried to instruct us to park in her area, but we ignored her cause we didn’t want to pay. We walked down to where the roaring waves were crushing on the sand. The ocean looked like a storm was brewing, with islands in the horizon playing hide and seek amongst the fog. As we headed back other Australians told us the lady who we ignored came over and knocked are bikes down. There were no rules to say we couldn’t park there but there was a rule saying no aggressive behaviour. We then headed back to try and beat the rain. Thankfully, it was only lightly spitting so it was quite refreshing.
In the afternoon we took our bikes out to explore the other island, as we went around you can see how the backend of the island is the area that is not quite as cheerful as they make it seem to the tourists. Here their run down homes showed sorrow and true sufferance through their economy. It makes you wonder how different life would be if you were born in those circumstances, rather than in Australia. However the world that they want you to see came alive again as the sun went down and the lanterns began to glow. We went to the original cooking school in Hoi An and by far the best food I’ve ever eaten. I had caramelised prawns with rice. The first mouthful makes your mouth tingle and experience so many different textures and tastes in only a few seconds. It had a spice to it that built up the more you endeavoured to the end.
26th of January 2016: “AUS DAY”First thing in the morning and we arose to catch a plane to Hoian. The plane ride was only 1 hour compared to 15 hours that we would have to take on a bus. As the plane started to land you could see the brisk air and rain set in across the city. As the plane doors opened the cold air felt like a punch in the face, instantly my legs started to freeze as rain was sprinkling across my head. This is not what Australia Day is meant to be. Where’s the sun beaming down on your face as your relaxing on a beach. Instead were heading for shelter to hide away from the inevitable cool air. The day consisted of running from one store to another trying to avoid the constant rain and chill factor far greater than my body could handle. Today was Hanoi’ coldest day in 40 years, a mere top temperature of 7 degree Celsius, so we picked a good day! As we were aimlessly walking the streets trying to find warm North Face jumpers we stumbled upon a backpackers hostel raging with loud music celebrating Australia Day. So as fine Australian’s we walked in and spent the rest of the night there. Drinking and convincing other nationalities that we were actually Australian.
27th of January 2016:
Now we’re off to Cat Ba, the weather is supposedly warmer but let’s see if that is true.