Despite the idea of travelling long term and its romantic connotations, I needed a break.
I booked a week in Danang (north of HCMC) – beach side hotel, with infinity pool. I have been sick pretty much the last 3 months and I needed a reprieve from noise and pollution. I called upon a local travel agent to book flight and train ( fly up and train back) to Danang. I was trying to be budget savvy and was originally going to train up and back. Upon investigating the costs, it was in fact only $10AUD dearer to fly both ways. Still, I thought I want to see the country side and 18 hours on the train seemed the ideal way to do this. How wrong could I have been. Lurking in the back of my mind I knew there was no double-decker trains here, I am going to put it down to heat and exhaustion. Packed a small carry on and my mission to visit Golden Bridge and cable car I took off. An hours pleasant flight to Danang, I was at my hotel within 20 minutes of landing. The hotel I stayed deserves special mention, Adamo Hotel who’s service ( low season) was exemplary. They upgraded me to a beach side view – full length views of the entire beach .. they looked after me well and the food (breakfast buffet) was very good with lots of variety.
Even though it was rainy season I managed to get plenty of beach time right outside the hotel. Two days later I discovered the underground walkway to the beach rather than trying to cross the road, which in many respects was harder than Saigon due to trucks and tourist buses the size of small townships. (see road in image above). I rented daily a beach lounge at 20,000VND about $2 AUD and made friends with the locals who brought me Espresso coffee and cold coconuts. I was made aware that street sellers were not welcome and the staff did a good job of keeping them at bay. There is only so many pairs of sunglasses you can wear! Swim between the flags is an unknown concept in this country, mostly ignored by Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. It says alot about Bondi Rescue in Australia – the rip is strong, the waves are not to be trifled with and I am a competent swimmer and it buggered me out totally.
Behind the hotel I discovered a plethora of eateries, very hip and groove bars and quite a bit of good HSH. I went to the wrong bar one night (whatever that means) and ordering a cold Saigon Special noted a chicken sitting on a bar stool ….quite at home and I thought to myself that’s odd – but lets face it, nothing here is bizarre anymore – you learn to expect and see oddities on a daily basis. As I watched her (the chicken) she seemed to be waiting for something ? Then on que a nun appears from nowhere and bundles the chicken in her arms and walks off with her. To this day I wonder what that was about. Chicken day care?
I booked a tour with the hotel to visit Sun World (AKA Wally World) and also visit the newly opened Golden Bridge and Cable Car. I wasn’t too fussed about going to Sun World per se but despite my reservations it was in fact pretty amusing and provided some of the best food I have eaten since being in Vietnam. I booked a tour that included a buffet lunch. Met some incredibly interesting people from all over the world and spent the majority of my afternoon taking photos and people watching. The bridge itself is an engineering feat and I am so glad I made the effort to go. What was not included in the tour was the wax museum. With my sense of macabre I couldn’t not go in, so for an extra 100,000VND I entered the very quiet exhibition. Travelling solo means lots of selfies but the crown of the afternoon ( no pun intended) was Queen Elizabeth.
A lovely week spent in Danang, I am looking to relocate here, as not only do I like the “air” the “beach” but the nightlife is pretty cool and it’s cooler weather wise too. A couple of work meetings and then it was time to head home to Saigon. Via the train.
Never, ever again will I do this trip ..I have caught a train a total of 3 times in Vietnam now and this trip was by far the worst. When I say worst, I mean a non working air-conditioner, screaming babies, top bunk ( yes yes I got it wrong), blocked stinking toilet kind of worst. At least this time I was prepared with snacks,water, headphones and easily accessible toothbrush etc. The linen was still left over from the previous 18 hour journey and all in all, along with the loud Vietnamese music played on cue at 5 am and constant interruptions by well-meaning train staff to purchase what I can only guess was boiled eggs – nope, never again. I have now done the entire east coast of this fabulous country by train – I no longer need the train experience nor the non romantic connotations of actually getting work done whilst enjoying the 18 hour solitude.
So a couple of items off the bucket list. I am hoping next week I can get to PuLuong RiceRoad Homestay which sits between Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho. I’ll be booking this myself ! I am noticing things about myself now that were probably always there about my organising ability, and to really trust your instinct. Being self sufficient (as much as you can) in a non native tongue country takes its toll, but for me, half the fun is the charades you have to play to get your message across. Try explaining “Stapler” via a game of charades. Happy Days…