Cho choooooo! All aboard to Da Nang...then Hoi An!

Trip Start Nov 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 14, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hoi Pho Hotel Hoi An
Read my review - 1/5 stars
What I did
My Son Sanctuary Da Nang
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Vietnam  , Quang Nam,
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 1

The Hanoi-Da Nang train journey is the longest journey we'll make on our trip & we're so glad it's over! To be fair, it wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be but the next train we take in a few days will be a little bit more luxury!

So we arrived at Da Nang train station at about 13:30. Half an hour later than scheduled but no problem. We get a taxi to Hoi An for $10, which is nothing for the 40 minutes it takes. The taxi drops us off down a small, narrow road & tells us it's the centre. Our first impression was that we must have been dropped off on the outskirts because it wasn't very busy & the buildings looked very small & old. We walked for about 20 minutes with our backpacks before we realised that's exactly what Hoi An is. A small, old looking town yet very clean. The roads are narrow & during the day are closed off to cars & bikes making it a huge change to Hanoi. It's almost like we're in tiny French village with the influence from their time here.

We ended up stopping in a hotel in the centre of the tourist area. It cost $36 for 3 nights plus we managed to get our train sorted for the night journey to Nha Trang on Saturday for $30 each. Now to look around!

We headed for the market area first & had a little nosey before heading for some food. It was 16:00 by now & all we had eaten was chocolate & crisps due to the food on the train being cut up with a pair of rusty old scissors.

After we'd eaten we went to check out the rest of the shops in the area & we soon realised people hadn't been exaggerating when they said every other shop was a tailor. Never seen anything like it.

The Thu Bon river was the next road along so we headed down there. This place is definitely one of the most beautiful little towns either of us have ever been to. Almost like a down-sized Vietnamese version of York.

We had a little look around but were in bed by 21:00 because of how much the train journey had taken out of us.

Day 2

A good nights sleep meant that we were both fresh as daisies! We got up & headed along the river again, this time for breakfast. We had seen a restaurant on Tripadvisor called Chips & Fish that had had really good reviews so thought we'd try to find it. 20 mins later & we're sat down right next to the river having bacon & egg butties! The food there looks delicious so we'll be heading back at some point for a decent meal.

We ventured out of town a little more than yesterday, now that we had our bearings sorted. We came across a few nice shops where we picked up a few presents before stopping at a tailor to look at a dress (for Lisa, obviously!). After getting measured up we looked around to try & book a trip for tomorrow. We had changed some money up at a little kiosk the night before & we were given a trip planner by them at the same time. For $8 each we booked a trip to My Son Cham Holy Land. We leave in the morning at about 07:45 by bus & return by boat at 15:00.

Our stomachs were starting to rumble a bit by now as we had walked about 5 miles since breakfast. We stopped at a restaurant we had looked at the night before & we weren't disappointed. The food was fantastic!

By now the grey sky had cleared a bit so we decided to get a bicycle instead of a moped & head for the beach. I think both of these bikes must have survived the war. With no brakes, no gears, no bell & a dodgy saddle, off we went in the direction of the beach.

It took about 20 minutes to get there. Unfortunately the Vietnamese winter is just starting to kick in so the weather wasn't ideal. We had a little look about then headed back to the old town.

On our way back we stopped at a little restaurant for a drink. It was right next to the river so it was nice & relaxing. It made a comfy seat for our sore bums!

About 30 minutes later & we're back on the road! Had a little cycle around town then headed back to drop them off.

An afternoon siesta later & we're out & about again. Our hotelier keeps pestering us to go on an excursion so eventually we book up for the trip to marble mountain on Saturday. It's our last day here & will give us something to do because we have to be out of the room by11:00.

With that sorted we head off for something to eat & a walk along the river. We're eventually in bed by about 21:00 because we ave an early start tomorrow. Until then...

Day 3

Up & out for 07:15 this morning. We needed to get breakfast before our trip so grabbed a pineapple on our way to the meeting point.

After a quick moped taxi to a hotel we were finally picked up by our crazy Vietnamese tour guide & set off on our way to My Son. It took about an hour to get there, which included a little stop at a friend of the tour guides shop.

The temples themselves were quite incredible, especially the history behind them. The French found them in 1937 & restored a lot of them. They also took a lot of the treasures & shipped them back to France! We were told that they were finally destroyed by the American B52's carpet bombing them during the Vietnam War (or the American War, as they call it over here). Deung, our tour guide, told us how 10,000 Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists from the north) had been pushed through the jungle & only had the temples left to hide in. The Americans knew this & blitzed the place in 1969. When walking around you could see huge craters in the ground from where it had been bombed. He also told us how certain areas are still out of bounds due to land mines that haven't been cleared.

We walked around looking at the ruins & taking photos for about 2 hours before heading back to the coach. We had booked to go back to Hoi An by boat so we headed off to the river where our floating wreck awaited us.

After eating what we thought might be our last meal on this ready-to-sink boat we finally made it to land in the shape of a tiny little island near to Hoi An. We had about half an hour there to look around. Basically, the entire island was full of carpentry shops. Every family there had a boat due to how often it floods with every building showing evidence of 10ft high water marks on the walls.

After seeing some truly incredible craftsmanship we got back on our boat & preyed it made the 10 minute journey up river to the Hoi An market.

When we got back (about 15:00) Lisa had to go for a fitting for the dress she bought yesterday. She tried it on & it fitted perfectly. All that was needed was a small alteration at the bottom & its finished. Heading back at 18:00 to pick it up then off for dinner/tea!

Until then a certain little someone needs a siesta so thats exactly what's happening now! Will catch up later.

We finally woke up at about 18:00. Lisa hadn't been feeling well towards the end of the My Son trip & felt even worse after a nap. Before we left for dinner/tea we she had been sick quite a few times. We decided we would just get something to eat then have an early night, hoping a good nights sleep might see it off.

Day 4

Lisa woke up still feeling a bit green. I went to the market for some fruit & to get Lisa some fresh bread. She was only sick once in the morning but we definitely think it was food poisoning. We stayed in our hotel room for as long as possible but 11:00 seemed to come around too quick as we packed our stuff & left it in the reception.

First thing we had to do this morning was pick Lisa's dress up. She tried it on quickly & it fitted perfectly.

After that, we headed round to a little restaurant next to the river for a drink before ordering some lunch. Lisa was starting to feel a bit better by now but still couldn't stomach anything to eat.

Ended up mooching around town for a bit before finding a cafe that we could chill out in for a couple of hours. Lisa finally stomached a few chips & was starting to feel human again.

The Post Office was our next stop. It was surprisingly easy to find. Posted what we had to & headed back to a little restaurant before going to wait for our pick up to the hotel.

Our train was about 45 minutes late but at least this time it was only a 4 birth & not 6. We were given the top 2 bunks again. I think the bottom bunks are saved for the locals. Anyway, time for some sleep. Nha Trang tomorrow & 2 days of relaxation!
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