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No moss on these rolling stones

rain 18 °C

When we woke up Friday morning it was raining the kind of rain that makes you rent some movies, pop some popcorn and go back to bed. Without popcorn and not wanting to watch any movies we made an executive decision, the weather wasn't cooperating so we would put our kitesurfing lessons on hold and go on a road trip. Before we arrived in Vietnam, we had looked a little at the maps and books, and we had planned to bus our way up the whole coast, making a few trips inland to check out some jungle. It turns out that this country is pretty big and not the easiest place to take simple bus trips around. Our destination of choice is the coastal town of Hoi An which is about 800kms north of Mui Ne. Our options for getting there; head back to Saigon (5 hour bus south) and take a plane, head inland to Dalat (5 hour bus west) and take a plane, or head to Nha Trang (5 hour bus north) and take another bus (another 13 hours on the road.) We figured that our best option was to head inland, explore some new terrain and avoid the overnight bus.

The hotel and kite school staff were very understanding and were happy to help us organise bus tickets and change our plans. We will see them again next Wednesday when the wind is due to return. Our wake up call came at 5:30 Saturday morning and after a quick bite (I think we cleaned them out of peanut butter) our bus picked us up at the front door and we were off. The bus held about 20 people some of which were backpacking tourists and some locals making for interesting scenery. I had to take a picture of the tone deaf aspiring musician sitting behind me that was sure the PCP he was smoking during our rest stop was the key to honing his skills and opening up his creativity. All it really did was give him a twitch, a sense of humour that only he understood, and the energy to test our patience for the entire five hours.

The roads deteriorated from the reasonably well paved 1A national highway to some seriously pot holed dirt tracks as we wound our way through the farm lands and the mountains. I was originally most concerned about the large hole in the floor of the bus, but quickly lost interest in that as we started into the hills and started hearing some truly unnatural noises coming out from under the hood and inside the gearbox. There was more than one occasion that I'm sure we could have got out and walked up the hills quicker, but eventually we arrived in the city of Dalat. The books describe Dalat as the capital of French Indochina in days gone by and we can see a little bit of Europe in the architecture as we drive through town. We only have a few hours, so we store our bags and grab a map and go on a walking tour, heading straight for Saturday market. I am sure it was busier earlier in the morning, but it was still a feast for the senses as we wandered through the indoor and outdoor sections. We grabbed some lunch of giant bowls of Pho which with a big tip was still less than two dollars and very delicious. We experimented a little heavily with the "sambal" that was on our table, the hot pepper condiment left us tasting lunch well into the late afternoon. The locals were very pleasant, not at all pushy, when they offered us everything from chicken and coconuts to all day driving tours for the next day. We skipped any purchasing though as we had an idea of the shopping that we would be doing at our final destination, by 3 o'clock we were in a taxi bound for the airport and on our way to Hoi An.

The airport was 35kms out of town and looked a little out of place, a shiny new facility in the middle of farmland, on the edge of the hills. I guess tourism is going well here, or maybe communism is the way to go, they even have free wifi at every airport in this country...why can't they do that in North America??

The weather forecast here looks pretty gloomy for the whole country right now, I just saw that there is a typhoon in the Philippines and so we are getting the rain from the outer bands of that along the whole coast of Vietnam. It was drizzling a little as we walked across the tarmac in Dalat to get on the plane and it was coming down harder when we arrived in Hoi An. We actually arrived in Danang and took a 30km drive to Hoi An.

Our hotel is nice and right next to the old part of the city. The ladies at reception checked us in and gave us a map explaining everything we might need. Our rooms are equipped with umbrellas, so we grabbed them and headed out to find some dinner. In the short three block walk to dinner I think we passed 50 shops that are either tailors or shoemakers, I'm impressed we actually made it to the restaurant, Nat was having a small coronary as she was planning her shopping schedule for the next few days. Dinner was great and we headed back to the hotel as the rain kept coming and the waterfront side of town started to flood. This town has temples, tailors and food for us to explore, most of which can be done indoors...I think it's going to be a great few days.

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Posted by colincampbell 17:11 Archived in Vietnam

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Different! Women and shoes...like candy to kids! The food is again interesting...I can eat soup 3 meals a day..So what type planes you using in the interior? Is there big time security at the airports ? Good stuff...hope the weather improves for y'all. Den

by BIGDEN

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