Monday, 6 August 2007

Reunification Express

Having had more than my fill of buses for a bit, I've arrived in Hoi An by the sweetly named Reunification Express train from Nha Trang. It was all very pleasant and comfortable, and although the scenery was pretty I slept much of the 9 hours. Probably cause I had ended up out too late once again in Nha Trang. While awake, I made my best attempts to commuicate with the Vietnamese family sharing my cabin, their english being only marginally better than what i could manage to utter using the back of the guidebook's phrases. From what I could make out, the conversation was mostly about if I was married or not, and if their daughter was pretty...
I actually had to backtrack a wee bit as the train arrived in Danang, so it was a motorbike taxi back the 30k or so, during which the driver spent most of the time trying to sell me a multi day tour. As consolation for not taking it, I allowed him to take me to his chosen hotel, which is actually really nice with a pool and lovely rooms.

Nha Trang hadnt been a bad spot, it's the main beach resort in Vietnam but it's not quite (yet anyway) the costa del sol, and in fact theres far more locals on the beach than westerners. Crossing the road here was also a bit more relaxed then Saigon, but still good fun. It's also Vietnam's main diving spot, and I spent a couple of days exploring the underwater scenery, which included one really spectacular swin through cave complete with scores of lovely fish. The dives were notable for the absence of any really big fish, the consequence of pretty heavy fishing by the locals, which still continues despite the areas status as a protected marine park.
Nha Trang also had a fair share of lively bars which keep going till dawn. Though the moto drivers are particularly funny with the prices they try to charge drunken tourists at this time of night/morning. Even the little old baguette ladies quadruple their daytime prices.

Before Nha Trang I visited the hill station of Dalat. It's a funny sort of place, with over the top kitsch statues and the like at every turn, and seems to attract far more Vietnamese than foreigners. Still the town and the area around is a nice enough place to spend a couple of days, not least because of the cool weather. I employed one of the local "easy riders" to show me around, and it was good enough fun, though a bit overpriced compared to others I've used - the curse of getting a really good write up in The Book.
I ended up renting my own motorbike to see some of the other sites.
One of the more weird attractions was a Gaudi like guesthouse called crazy house locally, which would make a cool spot to stay when it's properly open.

The old town of Hoi An is a really pretty spot, the one Asian town that really has retained it's colonial buildings, which are mostly beautifully resored. An amazing number are tailors, it seems that this is The spot in Asia to get your new suits. The much touted temples of My Son were a bit of a let down, but then again I guess after Angkor I'm a bit spoiled.

The river and beach area made for nice cruising on a rented bike.
Hoi An also boasts a number of nice little local bars, where you can drink the local draught beer for the pricely sum of 10p. Shame that I was almost the only one in there - I could see that everyone was milling into the bigger place next door - where you could get crappy draught fosters for 12 times the price. Oh but wait, that place is in The Book.


Isobel said...

Hi Sean - love the crazy house video, reminds me of Hundertwasser houses too.
(Don't know if you remember me, I lived in Dublin briefly a few years back, Pat mentioned your blog and I've been reading it enviously...)

seanmullins said...

yeah I remember a good night out in Dublin a while back with Pat et all.
Glad you liked the video, that place was a bit trippy to say the least:)

Mary said...

back from hols in apartment in Estepona. Lovely weather there. Raining here in Ireland now for approx 10 weeks, give or take a day in between.All well in BP..Lar in great form. Keep up the writing/photos..all looks so, so amazing.Really envy you. M and M and Joey