Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dalat, Mui Ne and HCMC

After the pretty little town of Hoi An we headed for the hills to Dalat, a town in the Central Highlands. The first part of the journey involved a night bus to Nha Trang.

I thought it was fine and comfy, I even had a foot to spare.

On the other had it was just a little bit cramped for Foss but strangely enough he still managed to sleep.

I dozed at the start but woke up after a while and I sat up to look out. A very bad idea. After about 10 minutes of witnessing the driver's driving technique I didn't think I'd be getting back to sleep anytime soon. He was more concerned about avoiding the crater-like potholes in the road than getting out of the way of oncoming traffic. Wouldn't really make you feel safe enough to drift of into a peaceful sleep!
When we got to Nha Trang we had a hour to grab breakfast at a buffet (an we certainly ate our money's worth) before we had to get on a bus to Dalat.
I don't think I have ever been in a creakier, rattlier bus in my whole life. I don't think Bus Eireann would even accept it into their fleet. It made the bus journey more like a roller coaster ride, we were lurched forward and flung side to side so often. There was more than one occasion where I thought someone must have pressed an ejector button in my seat, I was thrown so high into the air by some bump or pothole we must have hit. Not the most comfortable journey in the world but some of the scenery was spectacular, looking out on the valleys.
We just wandered around a bit that evening but the following day we did a motorbike tour with two Easy Riders. We had a really great day, they took us to see loads and they were really informative.The highlight was probably the Datanla Waterfall, though Fossie might argue that it was the cable car ride, what with his fear of heights and all that.

We headed to a beach resort called Mui Ne next. Thankfully we had a better bus for that trip and the road was okay most of the way, but we still managed to hit a motorcyclist and knock him and his bike into a dike on the side of the road. No worries though the driver did help get him and the bike back onto the road and he was off on his merry little way in no time - not a bother on him. Not even a cross word spoken!
Mui Ne was such a nice change to all the cities and towns we've been in. We got a beachside bungalow (just a detached en-suite room in reality, but who am I to argue) that was literally about 2 metres from the beach.

It was almost too hot to lie out there, though we tried our best and I got roasted the first day.
There are some sand dunes nearby and we took some motorbikes out to see those.

Apparently they're beautiful at sunset - just our luck that it was too cloudy to see it!

We spent Paddy's Day in and out of the sun and the sea. We managed to recruit two English girls, Kirsty and Carly to help us celebrate it that night. It wasn't your typical St. Patrick's Day dinner, but it was delicious.
We headed to a place called Mellow that's supposed to be a lively spot but despite all the people wearing green, drinking Jameson, and playing Oirish music, there was no atmosphere there. We hot-footed it down to another bar to catch the very last minute (literally) of the 2 for 1 Mojito happy hour. Carly decided to request some Irish music from the Vietnamese DJ, in the spirit of the day that was in it. We didn't know how she'd manage that one but after explaining that like Ho Chi Minh is a hero for the Vietnamese, St. Patrick is a hero for the Irish (?) and so he'd have to play some Irish music. Credit where it's due we had diddly-i music filling the bar within 5 minutes. Of course, I had to teach the girls how to Irish Dance, sure the music wouldn't have been any good otherwise. I don't think we sat back down after that. Mighty craic was had by all.

Unfortunately we had an early start the following morning to get the bus to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). We spent the first evening wandering around and paid a visit to the market. The next day we got a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels. It was brilliant. Really well set up and organised. We watched a short documentary about the war, it was an old film, but totally anti- American. Then we got to see try out a tunnel entrance that has been enlarged for tourists.

Our guide showed us some of the booby traps the Viet Cong used against the Americans - most of them involved getting impaled on spikes in some form or another!

It was onto the shooting range next and we both had five shots on an AK-47.

The last part of the tour was the tunnels themselves. They have been made 40% wider to facilitate tourists but it was still tight down there.

We we got back to the city we went to the Reunification Palace which has been left the way it was when the first tanks crashed through its gates in 1975 - it wasn't very interesting to be honest. The War Remnants Museum that we went to next made up for it though. Loads of photos, artefacts and info about the war, labelled in English so we knew what they were. We spent ages looking around there.

We decided that we'd seen all we wanted of HCMC so we left a day early to head to the Mekong Delta region.
BTW, sorry about all the slides, I know they're a pain to load up but Blogger's really acting up whenever I try to add photo's so it's the easiest way to add them.
Don't forget to email us or leave a comment to keep us filled in with all that's happening at home,
Jan and Paul

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