Da Nang- Ho Chi Mihn
I set out for Da Nang airport in style, sporting a new t-shirt from the markets and being super early, I was ready to check in. *ding* An email in Vietnamese from Jetstar, probably telling me to check in online. I soaked up the rays as I was driven to the Airport feeling totally chill.
My flight was delayed for 7 hours. Goddammit. Thanks a lot Jet star Pacific. Can you send email in English please? I sat with some Austrian travellers who attempted to teach me German for 5 hours which helped pass the time. With no reason that was able to be translated to a language I understand, I just had to wait. I was hoping to be in HCMC at 5pm, so when I arrived at 1.30 am and I got pushed around at the taxi line because of people jumping the queue, my patience wasn’t simply thin, it was gone. To everyone who pushed in front of me, I ordered them to the back of the queue. Speaking with an authorative voice, a few Australians watched on and cheered for me as i told at least 6 people off. I felt uqite justified when a few Aussies high-fived me and offered to share a cab into the city. Cheers to Australian Travellers, sticking together.
I arrived to my sleep pod hotel in District 1, HCMC, not really knowing what that was. I saw an online deal and had to book it. I didnt really know what it was but after watching the hotel bell boy lock himself in during his demo of how ‘safe’ it was…. then explaining sometimes it doesn’t work “because the wifi is unreliable” and relying on the SOS button to help him escape, I was certain I wouldnt be staying in the Start-Trek style sleep box. He was locked inside and said to me “Its okay, I’ll press the SOS button. *pause*…..oh, its not working. Sorry, malfunction. You will be okay.” Gawd. What a nightmare. By the look of it I would’ve been pickled in a jar or frozen and awoken mid-flight to Mars. Of course there was a manual override which he did not know how to use. I upgraded to the last room in the hotel, the Presidential 2 bedroom suite. It was nice and worth the difference. I enjoyed a shower after the long delay. I gazed into the buzzing city from my 10th floor high view. There were hookers spilling into the streets of HCMC. Real ladies? I’ll never know.
As I stood in the shower looking out of the floor to ceiling window enjoying the view, I”m almost sure someone was looking in, perhaps enjoying the view too.
Day 1: Hoi An
Ba Na hills
Bana Hills Video link
I flew to Da Nang. I wanted to go to Han Oi and then look at Halong Bay but flights were mostly fully booked or too expensive for a 3 day trip, so off the Hoi An I went. I flew into Da Nang and took a 35minute cab right along the ocean to my Home stay. Yep, I picked a home stay. It was just like a hotel, except the lady who checked me in owned the place. It worked out pretty well actually, she cooked my breakfast (for $1AUD) when ever I liked and had a puppy named Lucky. I was left alone in the gigantic house just as I would be in a hotel.
On my first full day in Hoi An I took a day trip to Ba Na Hills. It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend. Your tour guide will drive you an hour or so into the Jungle and then you catch a 5km state off the art cable car to the peak where a French castle awaits. It has been bought by Russians who have turned it into a theme park (and scatterred Russian art alll through the joint) with roller coasters, countless restaurants and performances outdoors. If that doesn’t interest you then the view is well worth a look.
Tips- if you aren’t great with cobble stones, steep hills or 40 degree heat while inside a flying glass box, this is not the tour for you.
Day 2 & 3 Hoi An
I cycled into the night markets in Hoi An to discover streets filled with coloured hanging lanterns and tok toks al about. It was beautiful, balmy and busy.
It was nice to sit in a coffee house in Hoi An and take in the view of the river and travelling sales people balancing bamboo sticks atop their shoulders with various items in an upside down Vietnamese hat on either side. It was so busy with tourists but also many locals. Well, I assume they were locals, there were also many Asian tourists. If you want to go shopping this is the place to do it, but I’m not fussed about it. After a day or so every tailor store looked the same. I mean it, I really could not find which tailor had made the dresses I ordered! I discovered that the trick to getting tailor made clothing is to find a material or pattern you like and hope for the best. I found a beautiful piece of chiffon that I had tailored dresses made from. You can see the picture below. They’re good, but they’re not what you’d expect at home. I cant quite figure out why…. but when a ball gown is $50USD, who cares. Silk is the specialty here with every tailor claiming to have the best silk in the land that are hand dyed with natural inks. The business owners have no issue stealing business from their neighbour and yelling out “Thats SATIN! not silk. I HAVE REAL SILK! COME TO MY STORE.”
Many tourists make a game of bargaining the Vietnamese products down to the lowest price with no intention of buying anything. While this may be fun for some, after my experience at the Ben Thann markets I wasn’t going to do that. I wish I could say it is because I have too much respect for their business, but it is truly because I simply dont have the patience to make a sport of it when I don’t want to purchase anything. That counts as respect, right? There are plenty of coffee houses, bars and streets to wander instead.
Cycling was my mode of transport, I never did make it to the beach because I kept getting caught in Monsoonal rains. I found it amusing that as soon as it rain merchants seemingly appear out of thin air selling ponchos to tourists! See the pics!
Between Da Nang and Hoi An there is a 5-10km long construction zone along the beach. Imagine Denarau Island in Nadi before it was built. They’re building the Sheraton, Westin, and all of those Westerner hotels. i’m sure it will look amazing when its done and be sold as the new ‘Asian tourist playground”-good for Vietnam. Better for me next time I stay, if you like that Western feel…