I took the bus 164kms further south from ...

Trip Start Oct 25, 2001
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, December 25, 2001

I took the bus 164kms further south from Hue to the sleepy town of Hoi-An.
Unfortunatley all the plans i had to visit the nearby My Son temples
(the kingdom of Champa) were cancelled as the rain from Hanoi/Sapa and Hue decided to work its way down to Hoi-An too! Everyday rained, with the big one on the last night raining constantly for 16 hours.
Times running out, so i travelled 530kms (14 hours) south to the beach town of Nha Trang. The bus trip was a bit of a rollercoaster ride with our driver thinking he was a cross country rally driver. We seemed to spend most of the trip on the wrong side of the road, swerving around pot holes at high speed while skimming past on coming lorries, cars, bikes, chickens, dogs, and pedestrians.
Its a miracle we didnt have a head on collision. Highway 1 (the road we travelled on) has a terrible record for head on collisions, and with no emergency rescue services in Vietnam, and basic medical treatment hours away, made me wonder what would happen if we did have an accident lucky enough to survive, only to die bleeding by the roadside while local villagers looted the bus!!
I tried to put these and other thoughts to the back of my mind and shut my eyes!!!
We arrived in Nha Trang around 8pm, and checked in at a local hotel. The room im staying in was good value($6) with hot shower, fridge, and a TV that had the MTV channel! (It made a change from Vietnemese TV to which i had become accustomed to!!)
Its a shame im only here for 1 night, but there wasn't really much here for me in Nha Trang. Sure it had a fairly nice beach, but it came with a price...A constant flow of locals wandering the streets/restaurants/and beach trying to sell: postcards, newspapers, books, sunglasses, cigarettes, fruit, drinks, snacks. Then there are the rickshaw, taxi, and bike drivers on every corner waiting for you, and if that wasn't enough there were the mobile shoe boys that wandered around asking to clean your shoes.
I dont think my blood pressure was up to a few days of that.
Thats why i caught the morning bus to Dalat... (central highlands)
Where my guide book said the climate is cool and dry, with lakes, waterfalls, and evergreen forests nearby.
It all sounds too good to be true.
40kms from Dalat the bus headed inland up and around the surrounding hills.
Today was the first day in Vietnam where it was actually hot, with blue skies.
Things are looking up. The bus arrived in Dalat around 2pm and it wasn't the sleepy hillside town which i was expecting. This is where a large number of Vietneme come for their holidays, and the town was over crowded and noisy.
Karaoke bars litter the roads, and the scenic lake area is transformed into a minature "Disneyland" with swan paddle boats on the lake, a communications tower shaped like the Eiffel tower, topped with Vietnemese men dreassed as 'cowboys' standing around the lakes with horses for hire.
Dont ask me why they're dressed up in cowboy outfits? It remains a mystery.
Around the town are flashing strip lights simulating fireworks...Again why?
I managed to stay in a basic room with attatched bathroom, and a TV that only has 2 local channels. (a far cry from the room i had in Nha Trang)
Anyway im only here for a few days, so i will have to make the best of a bad situation.
On the positive side, the area coming into Dalat looked really scenic, so my plans are to hire a taxi bike tomorrow to see the local villagers, waterfalls etc.
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