Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ho Chi Minh City & Nha Trang (Vietnam)

We arrived in Vietnam the day before my birthday on another bumpy coach journey, though the roads were nowhere near as bad as the guide books would have us believe. Plunged into hectic Ho Chi Minh City in the evening rush hour, we were relieved to find our hostel just across the road from where the bus dropped us - and right in the heart of the backpacker district, chock full of bars and restaurants.

We spent day one wandering around the city, sampling some delicious pho (noodle soup) and spring rolls, and trying out one or two of the many local beers. In the afternoon we took a stroll through the market and on to the War Remnants Museum, which housed a fascinating gallery of photographs in addition to the gory facts.

On day two Kev treated me to a nice hotel with a pool on the roof for my birthday plus a trip to the nearby Dan Sen Water Park where we tried out some quite terrifying water slides (I think I'm turning into a bit of a scardy-cat in my old age, I never used to get frightened by water slides no matter how fast they go!)

The hotel served up an interesting breakfast of rice and noodles with a choice of chicken curry and beef in red wine sauce, as well as the more breakfast-like breads, jams and eggs. Needless to say we tried a bit of everything, even the chilli sauce on the side!

After just a short stay in Ho Chi Minh City we jumped on a sleeper coach to Nha Trang. The ten-hour journey was relatively comfortable owing to the fact that we had seats that reclined right back to horizontal, though space was in short supply on the full bus. The bumpy roads meant we didn't get a massive amount of sleep but it certainly beats trying to sleep sitting up.

We found a lovely little place to stay in Nha Trang called the Happy House Hotel, a stone's throw away from the beach and just minutes from the bars and restaurants. Perfect.

Apparently Nha Trang Municipal Beach is rated as one of the top beaches in the world, and with six kilometers of golden sands, warm seas and beautiful weather it's not hard to see why. It was sad to see so much litter in the sea when the tide came in though (and a relief that it was a plastic bag and not in fact a jellyfish as I previously feared!)

The following day we went on a 'booze-cruise' thinly disguised as a boat trip, to visit four of the off-islands. Whilst it wouldn't normally be our cup of tea we had a real giggle and it was great fun to socialise with other travellers, as up until now it's just been the two of us. Highlights included doing backward somersaults off the roof of the boat (me, not Kev!) and a floating bar set up by the boat company, which was dishing out free cocktails. I was less keen on being forced into doing karaoke - which the Vietnamese seem to love - but after a couple of beers it didn't seem so bad!

I was excited to find out my friend Jojo, who I did my massage training with, and who has been travelling around Asia since March was in town so we went out for dinner in the evening to catch up. Small world!

On our final morning in Nha Trang we decided to have a go at scuba diving - something Kev has been very keen to do, but which terrified me. Still, after a few tears (of fear) before I could bring myself to jump into the water, I decided I actually quite liked it and even braved a second dive (with an instructor holding my hand all the way!)

Visibility wasn't great (probably about 5 metres) but we did see some brightly coloured coral and lots of fish, including a jelly fish, which I didn't want to get too close too, even if it wasn't a dangerous one!

So the next destination on our itinerary is Hoi An - home to hundreds of tailors who will tailor you a suit - or any other item of clothing, for that matter - in 24 hours. We'll try not to go too shopping-crazy!

Speak to you soon,

Love, Sarah & Kev x

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