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Got on a bus from Hoi An for 4 (turned 3) hours to Hue stopping at a lookout point called Thua Thien Hue but didn’t get enough time to go to the top (so I didn’t see the point in stopping at all). Yes, nice views, but if there is a hike why not give us time to do it? The sells were very pushy and touched me twice L we also saw a truck full of dogs three times which smelt terrible. The last time we saw them they were getting sprayed down.
Upon arriving in Hue, we went to lunch at Ushi where I got vegetable soup that ended up being just morning glory in water…only 15,000 though. Walked to central market (went over Truong Tien Bridge which is an ugly color and has construction) which was a lot like Goje market in Busan with souvenirs because it had vegetables and cooking things and housework items. We then walked through a park next to Perfume river and I told a guy I was Korean just for him to go away. On to the Imperial Citadel (palace) which cost 105,000 (which is much more than 55,000 as advertised in lonely planet). It’s pretty much the only thing to see in the city.
It was mostly construction and trash which makes me question Vietnamese people–why not take care of your history? This was not the first thing we had seen like this. We’re not even sure what we saw because there were no signs. Their map and the lonely planet map didn’t add up either.
The pagoda/rest area-gondola was really nice as were the bushes made like turtles which were both inside the Purple Forbidden City. There was a nice dragon statue just beyond the main gate too, but we could not get over the trash. Closed at 5:30 and one in our group was very concerned we would not get out. Just then, matt found the temples and Hien Lam Pavilion which all looked beautiful. We then walked back to the Ngo Mon gate to find it was closed…so we went around to the next gate (Hien Hhom) to leave. I tried to go in that one at first but it is only an exit. The palace is a lot smaller than it seems. Back to the hotel for 6:30 for dinner at 7:30.
Dinner at Le’s was good food with good drinks (but really standard drink deals) but the staff were too ‘helpful’. I don’t need someone behind me the whole time or chatting to me about my water bottle and such. They gave us jenga after dinner and asked if we were too tired because we didn’t want to play. Weird. 39,000 for fried rice with vegetables but really good. They were very on top of clearing plates too. Walked to Brown Eyes for free shots after but I went home because I was tired.
In the morning, some of us decided to go to Thin Mu. It was supposed to be 3km from a bridge that was 1 km away but it turned out to be 6.4km total so someone messed up on the map.
The walk was interesting because there was no sidewalk and lots of rundown temples and trash. Another sign of the Vietnamese not taking care of their country and history. Eventually found the pagoda at 11:40 meaning we had to go straight back so 4 of the group could check out and we all could eat. Got some good pics and saw the car a monk rode in before he burned himself because of abuses the government took on monks.
Haggled from 40,000 each to 22,000 each for a boat and then she dropped us at a different spot than she said she would (1 bridge early) because of police (?)
Back to the hotel to find a good restaurant and it turned out DMZ was supposed to be good, based on Trip Advisor. Service had no idea what was going on and food was okay. #5 on trip advisor? Not anymore…Our server could hardly take our orders but she understood when I said their ranking was about to go down. Most got pizza or pasta to bulk up for a 14 hour train ride.
Ready at 9 for the bike ride which ended up being fantastic. Beautiful view the whole time and it was not hilly. The worst part was not really being able to see because of concentrating on the tiny path.
Our first stop was to look at rice but myself and another ran to the baby ducks. Then we had the chance to do traditional garden watering (aka someone else’s yard work), then water buffalo riding which was a lot of fun even though it kept hitting you with its tail. At least he didn’t sit when I was on him, like he did with one of the others. Next was the beach for an hour and a half of which we were (mostly) in the water. Beautiful beach, sand, water and waves except for he bit of trash we saw (which was a lot less than we saw on the rest of the trip). Next we went back to the bikes for a bit to get to a boat which many people fell asleep on, not a lot to see at times but coming back to Hoi an that way as nice.
Took the “8:30” train from Nah Trang but it was quite late. We had a person who was there to help yell if people were still in our room but we didn’t need to use her, sadly as we all wanted to see it happen.
Jill saw a mouse but I didn’t, again sadly because I wanted to see how big they were. Sit always calls them Mickey Mouse and one of the girls sings ‘Hey Mickey’. Woke pretty early because others were talking saying it must be soon but it wasn’t for another hour and a half. Got good pics of sunrise though.
Arrived in DaNang and took a bus for 40 minutes to Hoi An.
We couldn’t check in so we went to breakfast at Banana Leaf where I got a great omelet and crunchy baguette for 35,000. Next others went to the tailors but I didn’t want to buy anything so I just came back and did laundry and showered. Then I saw some of the boys who said they were going to the pool so I went there. It was fun especially because they didn’t pull me under, as they joked they would.
Around 1:30 I went with Jill to explore the town. I didn’t realize that inside the ‘town’ there were no bikes or cars, making it seem even touristier. People are quite pushy to sell which I dislike. Walked to what I thought was the Japanese Bridge looking at the G Adventures wrong map again. Then to Central Market which was smelly and dirty and filled with sleeping people who were very very pushy to sell their food when they woke up—why would I buy food to cook? Next we wandered and I found a painting for mom for 100,000 dong. She asked 7USD, I said 5USD, which she then said was 120,000 dong. Nope. (She’s correct really but no one gets that rate.) Then back to the hotel for a little break before the cooking class.
When we were fishing the cooking class everyone else showed up for Pete’s birthday dinner. Then we went upstairs and had some drinks and Sit brought in a huge cake with a dragon. We couldn’t eat it all and left the dragon head with the restaurant. Really good for an Asian cake. Lots of frosting 🙂 Then Sit took us to the Japanese bridge (not the one I saw earlier) which was beautiful at night and showed us a good ice cream shop.
We then went to Hong Phuc 2 for drinks which were buy one get one for cocktail sand buy two get one for beer. The cocktails were quite strong. We got to control the music which was nice again and some people put lanterns in the water. Earlier we were told people do have jobs to pick up the lanterns. They closed at around 12:30 so we went home and as a massive rat.
Ready at 9 for the bike ride which ended up being fantastic.
Myself and 2 others got ice cream from Enjoy, the place Sit showed us, which was 600,000 for 1 kg of ice cream. I ended up paying 70,000 which was still expensive but it was very nice. The milk is imported from France. Then we went back to Hong Phuc 2 because we needed more food. I got a sandwich for 32,000 which was warm and very nice because of the crunchy bread. Sit then took us to look for funny shirts but I didn’t have any money so I came back to the pool to be joined shortly by most of the group.
Left to go to the post office and paid 15,000 dong for the Americas and 13,000 dong for Asia and Europe. Found some people from the group right away and did a bit of shopping. 2 shirts for $10—one Vietnamese telecom and 1 ‘same same but different’. A friend paid $7.50 for one so I got a deal. Wandered a bit trying to find others and went to a buy one get one bar for 2 drinks. Found some but they had to go home and when we saw them again they didn’t want to eat anymore. Went to Hong Phuc 2 for dinner (same as lunch) and got 3 beers (1 free) and vegetables and rice for $10.50. I then got really tired and went home.
Cooking class started at the hotel at 4 and we walked to Hong Phuc which was right next to where we had breakfast. I was worried because many reviews online said that multiple cooking classes here have you cut vegetables and stuff spring rolls and nothing else. First we went to the market I went to earlier and looked at banana leaves, shredded leaves in salt water (many things were in salt water for pickling but this was to preserve it), hot chilies, garlic, shallots, 3 types of ginger, lemongrass, Vietnamese celery, how they get mixed greens (just an old lady mixing it), a strange round green thing that tastes like cucumber, live eels, fish balls and patties for soup, crabs, and lotus seeds/nuts.I was worried because we looked at many of the same foods from the Thai class.
The first thing we made was fish stuffed with green onions and fried shallots which was wrapped in banana leaf and grilled.
Second was squid with lots of spices. Third was spring rolls (making them) which was quite different from Thai ones as the paper was a lot thicker and we didn’t cook the inside and put egg inside. Fourth we made a sauce for the wontons which I knew I wouldn’t like because of the pineapple but, since it was cooked, it wasn’t bad. We then fried the wontons and fried the spring rolls, cutting them partway though (Hoi An specialty) to make the inside crispy too.
My favorite was the wontons followed far behind by the squid and fish—Gemma made the point that it would be a lot better with a more flavorful fish and a less bony fish. I didn’t like the wonton itself because it was bland but I guess the pork ones were good. They were Hoi An special as well and were flat with a little circle to one side, which I thought was strange.
No problem on the overnight train. Went to bed around 10:00pm because everyone else in my car did and ended up being good because we didn’t get in to Nha Trang late, getting in just past 4:30am. It came to one screeching halt and I was scared (as the last overnight train I took when I was 16 in China went from being 12 hours to 24 hours due to mudslides) and fell back asleep to it moving.
Got to our hotel at 5:00am and 4 of 8 rooms were ready so we shared again and slept till about 8am. On the way to the hotel we saw the beach and tons of people working out.
Went to breakfast at 9 and it took quite a long time to get our food (turns out it was because our tour guide asked for the food to come when he was done playing pool with some of the people on the tour) from the sailing club. I got a frittata which was very oily and it was $5. Here I decided to spend the rest of the day at Vinpearl Land (amusement park) and got 3 others to join me.
Taxi back for 20,000 dong again and arrived at 7 when dinner was at 7:30. We went to the party area and walked into a sports bar where the lady was quite pushy and the music was loud so we left and went to Oasis where we ended up getting 4 free shots. Salad and beer for $3.50. After we talked to Red Apple because the lady boy at Oasis said it was good and it was decent. Buy one get one on cocktails. Then back to Oasis for our free drinks after 11:00. Home by 12:30 after trying to go to the beach party but they wanted over $5.00 so no. The beach should always be free.
Woke with a bit of a hangover from all the mixes but great weather so I signed up for snorkeling which picked us up at 8:35. Breakfast was a bit better than usual but terrible compared to what other people staying at the hotel got.
Left for dinner with the group at 4:50 and went to Yen which was on Trip Advisor and some went to yesterday. Spring rolls and lemon juice for 80,000 dong. I thought they weren’t going to be fried and then they were so I was a bit sad for my health but they were so good. Drink took a while.
Snorkel tour had tons of English people and a good amount of Chinese—about 25-30 in total. It seemed great at first because of the scenery but when the other group started drinking I was a bit worried that they would get annoying–and they did!
First we went to an aquarium where we had to pay extra so I didn’t go. Second to the snorkel area for an hour. I saw some beautiful fish including a black fish with gold eyes who stared at me and a white sea urchin. They gave out crap snorkels, so I was glad to have my own. They also gave out floating rings (like tires) so you didn’t get too tired swimming (great idea). Then a long ride to a fish farm where we ate (but we ate in the boat).
Then a show of the boat workers where they started with Californication and then songs for the countries people came from (except America which had a Beetles song). Finally we had the floating bar which consisted of a raft for our lady boy and a bucket of booze he kept filling little cups with.
We then went to a private beach which had 30,000 dong entry so I didn’t go. Again, beaches should be free! Had a nap up on top of the boat. Boat back to the harbor, taxi back to hotel around 4pm. Then I went to the beach just to jump in and it was still quite nice.
To get there we had to take a taxi for 20,000 dong each then go on a cable car (4 minutes) which is the longest one over water in the world at 3km long. It doesn’t stop so you have to hop on and off. On the way there we saw something carved into the mountain and the people going down it. So we went there first. It is called the alpine coaster and was like that ride I did in Germany where you control the speed. Had to go quite slow because the people in front of me did.
Next we went on Roller Coaster twice, once at the front and again at the back and the back was scarier. Front felt like pushing while the back felt like dragging and like you were going to get thrown off. There was no line anywhere. We were then sweating quite a lot so we went to the waterpark.
10,000 for a locker and they put the key into a crayon-looking thing which went around your neck. We did Multi-slides 3 time, racing, black/space hole, kamikaze—they went twice, I went once because it is abusive!—tsunami slide too many times to count, flying boat twice, rafting slide 5 times, body slide twice and wave pool for a bit. The rafting slide and body slide had tubes which were painted like snakes and had slits of light coming though the pitch black so I thought it was quite fun. This was all in 2 hours. I fell out of flying boat and cut my elbow–so be careful!
Next we went to the aquarium which was really good for being included. There was a mermaid show and tunnel which a conveyor belt brought you though.
Next was lunch at Lotteria. I ate leftovers from my train ride, followed by a fashion show.
Then pirate ship, animal circus (depressing), 4d Aladdin movie, riding a bull, some arcade games (which I was terrible at), bumper cars (where I was a bull), swing carousel which tilted and evolution which had us hanging upside down for a longgg time. One of my friends freaked out in a very monotone way saying ‘oh my god. Oh my goodness’ so I correct him to say ‘oh my Buddha’ in-between laughing. We saw the sunset upside down.
We then raced back to the alpine coaster and waited at the top so we could go faster. Still caught up with everyone.
Arrived at the hotel in record time from the homestay (3.5 hours instead of 4.5).
A mini walk around town with no one dying due to motorbike. Lunch at Pho 2000 where bill Clinton ate when we came to Vietnam as president to talk about the war. I got Pho Chey and it was flavorless. 65000 dong for that 3000 dong for tea and 3000 dong for a napkin which we thought was free. Pay for napkin? Another person had vegetable curry which was much better.
Walked though Ben Thanh Market just to be grabbed and touched a lot which I don’t like. We left shortly after and walked to the War Remnants Museum, thinking we were lost and got helped by a nice man with little English.
Some of us then walked to Cathedral Notre-Dame next which closed an hour before we got there. It was still pretty and their patron saint is Regina (just like a girl on our tour).
Across the street was a mid-autumn festival with lots of drumming and kids watching (because I think it was at a school). Some kids played badminton outside too. The drummers were famous in their town/suburb.
Next we talked to Independence Palace which was closed for the day but a guy said it would be open tomorrow. He then offered to take the 5 of us back to our hotel on his one motorbike. Haha.
Dinner was bland spring rolls and 2 beers for 115,000 dong.
We then went to the bar street and walked awhile looking for cheap places. Went to one that said better deals than they really had and we tried to get a better price (we were in a group of 14, we’re going to spend a lot of money, so most places have given us discounts) and they said no, so we left. The server grabbed me and pulled me back into the seat so I slapped his arm. Went to a place we knew was cheaper and were given a private room because there was too many of us for the street. It was the lobby of a hostel and they let us use the computer for music. Cold beer for $0.50. in big-ish bottles too. Everywhere is supposed to close at midnight but we left at 12:30 and most places were still going strong.
Woke at 8 to pack and be ready to go for 9 and have everything out of the room because checkout was 12.
We went to the Cu Chi Tunnels in the morning.
When we got back I went to the ‘revolutionary’ museum alone—it was really the Ho Chi Minh City Museum.
I then tried to walk to city hall but it seemed busy and not exciting to take photos of so I left.
Bought food for the train ride of an orange, chocolate digestives fruit bars and nuts and a chocolate pastry for about 130,000 total. I plan to have it for 2 days except the pastry and orange.
Got back around 5:15pm to leave at 6:00pm to get on the train at 7:30pm and leaves at 8:00pm. So much waiting. The first overnight train of the trip.
When we got back I went to the ‘revolutionary’ museum alone—it was really the Ho Chi Minh City Museum and our map from G Adventures was wrong. I walked in the wrong room first (side door as there was no sign to tell me otherwise) so I saw the culture 19th-20th century.
Then I walked to the start and saw the nature, then the history of foundation and development which had a ton of maps (which I love) then commercial part which was a lot of info about imports and exports then industry which seemed to have a lot of weapons. Then I got back to the 19th-20th but into another room with instruments and wine casks and masks.
The next floor had wedding photos going on (kind of strange but they did get a good view of the city) and the big rooms had revolutionary struggles 1930-1975 which included an award for burning down a building, a horn to call people to protest, a saw that was used to cut trees to block the French from going into cities. A statue was made for a boy (under 18) who went to jail but gave up no information. Many protests happened during 1930-1931, more than any other time. The last bit was about the Ho Chi Minh Campaign which liberated Saigon and reunified the country.
There were two balconies but only the back had a nice view outside were some tanks plants and helicopters.