After a tearful goodbye with Glenn, Emily and Georgie (she gave me a little turtle statue as a goodbye present recalling our turtle experience) me and Lucy got on the Sleeper bus to go down the coast. We payed for an open bus ticket – and got 5 stops along the coast.
Our first stop was Hội An with a brief stop off in Huế . The sleeper bus is very Harry Potter style with three rows of bunk beds going all the way to the back of the bus. Good in theory but the beds are very short (for the Vietnamese) and the driver beeps the horn all night so you can’t really sleep. The bus from Hanoi to Huế was supposed to leave at 6:30 pm but was full so we ended up waiting on a motorway for another one until 8. We had similar experiences everywhere we went. We had eaten nothing that day because of the stressful last minute packing (my own fault) and so had to make do with Marmite on Ritz crackers (spread with our fingers real backpacker style.) It kept us going though and I think we would have eaten anything we were so hungry.
We arrived in Huế at 6 AM so decided to go straight on to Hội An. They failed to tell us that the morning bus had been canceled. Eventually (2 hours later) they found us another bus and we were on our way to Hội An which is the loveliest place ever. I think if I was to live in Vietnam I would live there! In the time waiting for the other bus I managed to trip over a step with my backpack on – because of the extra weight on my back I couldn’t get my balance back. I ended up doing a somersault and landing on my head! Very painful and I think I was a bit concussed afterwards. I lived to tell the tale though!
Hội An is a chilled sea side town hat has a very European feel to it. It has lots of little cobbled streets which kind of reminds me of descriptions of Venice. There are little Vietnamese kids run around blowing whistles that they are trying to sell. We got bicycles every day and rode to the beach (about a half hour ride) good exercise and we got very tanned and in Lucy’s case burnt.
They do great fresh sea food by the sea and it’s tailor town – you can get anything made in a day. Me and Lucy got some lovely dresses made. It’s so exciting waiting to see what they will turn out like!
The sleeper bus from Hội An to Nha Trang was also overbooked so they tried to get me and Lucy to agree to go on a seating bus for a 12 hour journey, this was because the people who did not have beds refused to get off the bus and kept pointing at me and Lucy saying we should give them our beds. They were really horrible – on the verge of grabbing us and pulling us of when a lovely Vietnamese guy got off instead. I felt so bad for him. It was no one’s fault but the bus company really. Horrible bus experience!
In Nha trang we were just lazy on the beach. Our hotel was a 5 minute walk from the beach.There were lots of funny motorbike drivers who would stop us and try to sell us tours of the city. We met an awesome guy who called himself and his motorbike Eddie Murphy – it was written on the side in big red letters. The weird thing was that he actually did look like him!!
On the next bus journey (about a 7 hour journey) we met a guy called Jamie from Yorkshire. In a weird coincidence Lucy spotted him in the background of one of my photos from Hanoi, 2 weeks before meeting him – he didn’t believe us though but it is definitely him in the picture. Stranger things have happened!
Our next stop was Dalat. It is in the mountains and all my Vietnamese teachers had told me I had to go there and that it was the Vietnamese honeymoon destination. It is really beautiful with lots of lakes and horse and cart rides. You can hire those swan boats on the lake. I can see why the Vietnamese think it’s a romantic town. There, me and Lucy met up with Liana – one of the gappers that had been traveling. She had already been there for 3 days and we went to stay in the hostel she was in. It was so cool – we all shared a room on the top floor that was an attic room with sloped wooden walls. It had such a nice feel to it – really rustic and it was so cheap!
It was another 7 hour bus journey to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) from Delat. It got very hot as we were going down the coast and that bus journey was quite unbearable. It was very strange being back in Saigon – as my only experience of it was my first week there with gap doing my teacher training course. That week was all a bit of a blur and kind of like a school trip where you do not really get to see the place you go to. It was all very organised for us – we didn’t have much freedom. I was nervous going back but I actually really enjoyed it. It’s a lot more westernized than Hanoi – it seems to be a lot cleaner and there are actually bins whereas everyone throws there rubbish on the street in Hanoi.
On the second night – my supposed (ended up not being) last night in Vietnam we met John. John had been mine and Liana’s teacher on the gap course in the first week. He is a great guy, he’s a dancer and did all the choreography for Vietnam Idol (like American Idol), he teaches English and teaches how to teach English and does a dance class. He works way too much but still found the time to come out for a drink with us which was lovely. He insisted on paying for everything and then told us we had to come to his free cardio hip-hop dance class the next morning which was apparently ‘for all levels.’ Lucy didn’t want to and neither did I but Liana kind of made me and he said we could drop off our bags in the morning as we had to check out that day. I am really glad I did it – it was fun but really not for all levels and I could not walk for the next five days. My muscles were so sore. Lucy said it was like being with an elderly person and not fun when you have to drag a massive bag about with you.
After the dance class we went back to his house. He had offered us rooms (because he has two spare bedrooms) but me and Lucy were leaving that day. Liana took up his offer though as she was in Saigon for another week. He got us take away pizza, we watched Clueless and chilled pretty much all day before our flight at 6. Me and Lucy made a quick stop off at the war museum before going to the airport. The museum was really disturbing and was very strong propaganda for communism and against the Americans in the Vietnamese war but it was very interesting to see. It is definitely one of the most openly horrific Vietnamese war museums. It reminded me of the holocaust museum in Washington – it set out to shock you.
Me and Lucy arrived at the airport at 4 (leaving the required two hours before our 6 o clock flight to bangkok.) Our flight was nowhere to be seen on the check-in board, so me and Lucy went straight to information to find out what had happened to it. They told us that it was canceled and that we were on the 8:50 flight instead. They let us check-in though and gave us a free food voucher. We had lots of time to kill but it wasn’t too bad with our free meal, book and iPod handy.
At 8:50 we were finally on the plane. Settled, strapped in, seat was up, stewards were sitting down ready to take off and then there was an announcement – there had been a technical problem (the engine had broken) and we all had to get off. Then it was more waiting around (3 hours in fact) and then back out of the airport, collecting our bags, giving in our passports and being taken to a hotel for the night. It was really frustrating because we had already paid for our accommodation in Bangkok!
We had not eaten since 6 and by the time we got to the hotel it was 2 in the morning and everyone was tired and hungry. There are always those people that make as much fuss as possible! We did ended getting a bowl of Phở , which was nice. The hotel they put us in was really posh – it had a hot shower and the shower had a door and there was a bath and a kettle! It would have been great had they given us a bit of warning that we had to leave for the airport in the morning but instead we had five minutes to get downstairs and into the shuttle buses to go to the airport. No shower and no breakfast! We ended up getting to Bangkok at three in the afternoon on Sunday but we were just thankful to finally be in Thailand.