Experiencing some emotional burnout after the middle of my Vietnam trip, I was excited to be moving on to the last few days of my time in the country. Maddy and I had decided to take a flight instead of the night bus to surpass a few hundred kilometers of the country. We arrived in Nha Trang, a coastal town, close to dinnertime.
We arrived in Nha Trang and waited for about an hour for a cheap airport shuttle to downtown. Maddy was scammed horribly for a bottle of water. Typical. We arrived at our hostel and went in search for food. Nha Trang is a total beach town/boardwalk vibe and is FULL of russians. This is due to connections between the countries and now there are tons of direct flights daily from Moscow to Nha Trang. It did feel like being in ‘Little Russia’. We were confronted directly in russian several times (because we are white girls I guess) and had to tell everyone we didn’t speak the language. What an experience. We ended up eating at the best burger place I have been as of yet in Asia. Heaven.
The next morning we said see ya to the russians and took a bus to Da Lat. Da Lat is a mountain town and the bus ride was…intense. It was hugging the cliff edge for the majority of it and it was super foggy. I just had to close the blinds and not look down. Halfway through the trip a highschool soccer team boarded the bus and I had the pleasure of being stared down by a teenage boy for two hours from the seat behind us. Personal space, people! We made it in one piece to Da Lat and went to our homestay. Da Lat turned out to be my favorite place in Vietnam, the people were kind, the weather was cool, and the food was cheap! The woman who owned the guesthouse gave us ginger tea and told us to call her Mama, which we affectionately did. We spent the rest of the day exploring the crazy architecture of the city and walking around, being in awe of the cool temps and lack of hawkers.
The next day we did a motorcycle ride through the countryside with local guides. The ride itself was the highlight like always but we also got to see many farms, try weasel poop coffee, and hike down to a waterfall. It was a relaxing, perfect day, even if I did have to pee on top of a mountain due to lack of facilities. That night we relaxed and drank beer with other travelers in the hostel.
After a tearful hug and goodbye to Mama, we caught a bus to another beach town famous for sand dunes (of which I saw none haha). We arrived at night and it was deserted except for the taxi drivers who were out to charge you an arm and a leg to go to your hotel. We walked. It wasn’t fun, but luckily my little bag makes walking around not completely impossible. Our hostel was right on the ocean and we watched the waves hitting the stairs down to the beach as we sipped some beer. Our housing was pretty rustic, just a bed with mosquito netting in a little wood house.
I woke up in the morning and spent hours by the ocean in a hammock reading my book. It doesn’t get much better than this. Sadly, the dunes are too far away to see without driving and we were told there were no local guides in Mui Ne. We really, really didn’t want to do the packaged tour as it sounded awful so we decided to skip the famous sand dunes and I spent more time in my hammock by the sea. Wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC/Saigon)
HCMC was so different from Hanoi, in a good way. The streets are not as hectic, the traffic doesn’t feel as dangerous, you don’t get yelled at with every step, and people are so friendly! After Da Lat, this was my favorite place in Vietnam. Good food on every corner. I’ll be honest, I took it easy in HCMC. Besides eating and wandering, sipping coffee in cafes, I only did two things, despite being there almost a week. The first day I went to go tour the War Remnants Museum and another day I toured the Cu Chi Tunnels. I will post more about the tunnels later but the museum was really powerful. Museums in Asia have been, as a whole, so much better and more powerful than those in the USA. It was very telling that they had a whole exhibit about protests in other countries against the Vietnam War but made no mention of the resistance in the USA.
I was a lazy butt in Saigon but the more I travel, the more I realize I don’t have to see every little thing. Cambodia is next and I am so excited and ready to move on!