Arriving in Nha Trang at 6:00 a.m. and having got very little sleep overnight I booked into the hotel where I was dropped off - Guesthouse 62 ($5 for a single, $6 for a double) and immediately went to bed. Later on in the morning I wandered down to the beach and had a very relaxing time lying there reading a book and occasionally going for a swim. The locals selling stuff on the beach - books, pictures, fruit, were however a little irritating.
I was woken up too early this morning because Benni who had stayed in Hoi An for an extra day wanted to get into the room. Once I had got up at a sensible time, we walked into town so that I could change some money at the bank, which was closed by the time that we got there, and then went to see Long Son Pagoda and the Giant Seated Buddha. Here some nice gentleman started showing us around (whether we wanted it or not) and at the end asked for a ridiculous amount of money for the service.
Spent the afternoon on the beach at the Rainbow Bar where for the price of a drink you get to use a private beach (= no people hassling you to buy stuff)
Time for a boat trip today. I went with Mama Linh rather than the more famous Mama Hanh but I think the trips are both very much the same. We headed out to one of islands for a bit of snorkelling. This was my first go with a snorkel and after some initial difficulties with swallowing water I got the hang of it and saw plenty of small, pretty fish and coral. Unfortunately I hadn't realised that back was sticking out of the water and I got badly sunburnt on the back - it turned bright red but at least it never really got sore. We then anchored off another island for a seafood lunch and after entertainment provided by the crew went swim at the 'floating bar' - which only served a pretty disgusting wine.
The trip finished with visit to the fish farms (or aquariums as the tour guide prefers) on another island. Worth the $7 cost of the tour.
Another change of scene today as we headed for Dalat in the Central Highlands. The main reason for going up here was to cool down since I had been getting rather hot at sea level. Dalat is a big tourist town for Vietnamese more than westerners but since it was out of season it was quite empty (as Nha Trang was). This time we stayed at the Pacific Hotel (again where Sinh café dropped us off, perhaps we are just too lazy) at cost of $6 for a double room. Had dinner at a restaurant recommended in Lonely Planet but it wasn't very good and then failed to find the bar that Lonely Planet recommended. The map of Dalat in Lonely Planet is one of worst cartographic representations of reality that the book contains (i.e. it is not very good)
I decided to rent a bicycle (cost $2) today to tour around the sights of Dalat since they are too spread out to walk, I didn't fancy doing an organised tour and I don't trust myself on a motorbike (which would have been a better choice since there are some big hills out there). I headed first to the much maligned Valley Of Love to see the real Vietnamese Cowboys and concrete animals.
Then it was back into town to view the 'Crazy House'. This is a hotel with an unusual architectural style
and on to Cam Ly falls to see the fake alligator
I then went down the hill (big mistake since I had to come back up later) to the Datanla Falls, which were nice because they were completely deserted
I decided not to continue down to Prenn Falls but they are supposed to be nice as well.
Tonight we found a much nicer restaurant which although about $1 more expensive was a great deal better. We then managed to find the bar (Saigon Nite) that we couldn't find the previous night and I recommend visiting it since the family who run it are very friendly
Last night we had tried without success to book a trek for today but we were assured that if we went down to the office at 7:30 it could all be sorted out. After waiting a little while they decided that the man who led the trek that we wanted to do was on holiday and no one else offered a similar walk. Therefore we ended up hiring a guide a go up Langbian the highest mountain in the vicinity. The weather was a bit overcast when we started but the clouds came down while we were climbing up and by the time we reached the top we could see nothing
The last part of the walk up /down to /from the summit was very steep and very slippery. I of course had no problems but Benny was struggling a bit
Benny struggling to get down from Langbian
After getting down from the mountain we also had a 'tour' of Lat Village which merely consist of walking through the village and having houses pointed out.
Another nice meal in a more expensive restaurant tonight.
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