Peace and Quiet in Koh Jum…

The first stop on our Andaman island hop was Koh Jum (also called Koh Pu). We got a ferry from Krabi to Jum for about £8 each. The journey was actually quite good fun. The ferry stops offshore and a rush of longboats come out to meet it, taking passengers to various resorts along the island. Its a little bit hairy as you hand over your bags and then hop over the boats to get to your one, but it all seemed fairly well organised and we got to shore (with our bags) without a problem. Once the boat had reached the beach we threw our shoes onto the sand and jumped in! its only about a foot deep, and Jamie’s easily tall enough to take our bags without any danger of an accidental dip.

waiting for the ferry at Krabi...

waiting for the ferry at Krabi…

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selfie on the ferry!

selfie on the ferry!

longboats coming out to meet us

longboats coming out to meet us

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We stayed at the Coral Bay for £14 a night. We had our own little bungalow with a private shower/toilet,  and an area to sit outside. It was basic but cosy and perfectly comfortable. Electricity is turned off during the day (!) but it really wasn’t a problem as we spent our days on the beach, sunning and swimming. The generator gets turned on about 4, and we only really wanted it for the fan. I got stung by a jellyfish on the first day, but it was nothing serious, just felt like a bad nettle sting and it was gone by the morning.

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The beach directly out the front of us was a little rocky but we explored down to the right and found a lovely sandy cove, with lots of big trees for shade. We settled for the day and it felt like having our own private beach. We maybe saw 5 other people all day. The sand is really fine and soft, the water is clear, and there are dozens of these funny little sand crabs that have little dramas (claws up and swagger on) – fun to watch while you sunbathe.

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going for a dip

going for a dip

beach taxi

beach taxi

sunset x

sunset x

We booked in for two more nights because we were loving the peace and quiet after Bangkok and Phuket! The sunsets were beautiful to watch with a nice cold Chang before dinner. Only criticism might be that things were quite expensive to buy on the island (but we had expected as much). Water was double what you would normally pay. Having said that the food was very good and the staff really friendly. We met a German guy called Steve who said he’d seen phosphorescence on the beach a couple of nights before. We weren’t lucky enough to see any though. We also met a really nice English couple who were also travelling- we hope we convinced them to visit Vietnam! Koh Jum is such a peaceful and laid-back island, makes me excited to see more! Next stop Koh Lanta….

Krabi…

We left for Krabi very early in the morning on the 19th of January. We had two options: a ferry that went via Phi Phi and cost about £15, or a 4 hr bus ride that cost about £7…. No brainer. So we were up very early to catch our bus- which turned out to be a minibus (with a crazy driver- standard). Anyway, we survived and by late afternoon we were in Krabi.
We stayed at The Grand Mansion for £10 a night, first place we’d tried with no AC. It was very comfortable, and the staff we really friendly- in fact I think it was the friendliest place we’d stayed yet in Thailand!
For dinner we walked down the river to the Maharaj Market. At night time it becomes a food market. There are upwards of twenty different curries on sale and loads of little BBQ sticks with things like chicken, sweetcorn, fish, veg… The place smells incredible!
We both had a massaman with chicken for under a pound each, and it was seriously good curry. The stalls are run by Thai-Muslims so there is no alcohol for sale.

For beer afterwards we headed to the Chao Fah Pier, again at night times this becomes a big street food type market. There is a good atmosphere, although it is quite touristy, it’s nothing like Phuket or BK.

Krabi was very chilled and felt very authentic and we enjoyed it very much.
Next stop Koh Jum….

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Phuket – Bangkok…. Bangkok – Phuket

I’d like to keep the posts chronological so we’re going back a couple of months here for our first visit to Thailand, when met Jamie’s parents Ted and Ruth….. Then we were back in England for five weeks…. And then on January 12th we came back to Thailand to pick up where we left off. It’s a complicated life, but I can’t say I mind it!!!!

On November 21st Jamie and I flew from Saigon to Phuket where we had two nights in Patong while we waited for Ted and Ruth to arrive. Oh my goodness! Patong was such a shock to the system after three months in Vietnam. Bangla Road is crazy – it’s just a hectic, noisy, chaotic strip f clubs, go-go bars, upstairs strip clubs, lady-boys, drinking, drunkenness, revelry, and boobs and bums in your face everywhere!! We sat at the Sea Dragon to people watch over a couple of bottles of Chang – there were so many pissed people! The road is so busy, but apparently a good portion of this are people simply walking the strip to have a look. Either way the place has a great party vibe and we fell for it hook, line and sinker.

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We went to a go go bar, that’s where girls in underwear dance on the bar, but it’s no seedier than that. I played a barmaid at connect four and won a shot of something yuk. We drank too much Chang- watch out for this sneaky little lager! And we had such good fun that night!!!!

The next morning we both vowed to never drink Chang again. We chilled in our hotel room watching The Walking Dead (I love this series!!) and waiting for Ted and Ruth to arrive…. I remember meeting a couple in Mui Ne who said (somewhat self-righteously I’ll add) that they ‘didn’t come to SE Asia to sit in a hotel room and watch TV’… fair enough but as far as I’m concerned you need that bit of down time occasionally, you can’t always be out doing stuff. Plus the way we felt that morning- I couldn’t think of anything worse than walking about in +30 degrees, I needed to be gentle to my fragile head! To drink lots of water and watch the lovely Andrew Lincoln and team hack up a load of zombies.

We waited in the reception for Ted and Ruth to surprise them… It was so lovely to see them both- we’d been looking forward to it for ages- we’d missed them lots and lots. Plus, much as I love you J, I know you’d say the same, it was good to have someone else to talk to! We’d made friends along the way but that was different. That night we went out for a lovely supper and sat catching up on all we’d missed at home.

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looking out from Rawai Bay

on Nai Harn neach

on Nai Harn neach

The next day we got a taxi to our villa in Nai Harn. Gorgeous. Lovely pool, good BBQ area (that we would get put to very good use over the next ten days!), nice outside seating area and tonnes of space inside. Jamie and I unpacked! Something we hadn’t done since leaving home…. We played pool pong in the afternoons and cards in the evenings. There was a 7/11 just down the road so we could keep stocked up easily, plus we found a Tesco Lotus that delivered so we had everything we needed! Great thing was we could even use our club card- good old Tesco. There is not an awful lot going on in Nai Harn, a few bars and restuarants but that’s it. We liked Shakers, which was just across the road – the food was good and well priced, plus they kept giving us free litres of white wine!! I think we even declined it once!

Ted rented a car so that we could explore a bit, we found Ya Nui beach that had a nice restaurant opposite for lunch. The snorkelling there was pretty good too. Even better though was Ao Sane – we had to drive under the Royal Phuket Yacht club and follow a road that looks like it’s going nowhere, then there’s a sign, a couple of parking spaces and you’re there. You walk down some stairs to a long restaurant that stretches along the beach.

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I loved it here, it was pleasantly cool sat in the shade, the food was good and the beer quite cheap, but the snorkelling was amazing!!! The water was crystal clear and the were so many different kinds of fish. We even spotted a huge cuttlefish peeking out from under a rock.

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Jamie brought some chicken bones from the BBQ the night before so that we could feed the fish. It was so good! The restaurant even had a couple of resident golden retrievers that would swim with you in the surf!

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Another of our favourite places was the Italian restaurant above the Yacht club. We went to watch the sunset, which was beautiful. Ruth and I got to hold the owner’s parrot, and because she liked us he gave us both a free cocktail.

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While we were in Nai Harn we got the news that the chef at their pub at home was leaving, meaning they would be left stuck over Christmas and New Year. Jamie said (as I knew he would) that he would come home and work. Apparently an agency chef costs about £250 per day in England, and the chances of getting one at that time of year are slim anyway. It was decided that I would come home too (I was relieved because I didn’t really want to spend Christmas and New Year on my own). Thank you Ted and Ruth for bringing me back with J even though you didn’t have to. The pub paid for both of our flights and within a fortnight we were back in the Cotswolds! It all worked out well in the end though – we saw our friends and family, had Christmas at home (which was so lovely) and we both worked so we came back out with more money.

From Phuket we all flew to Bangkok where we had four nights in the lovely Tawana hotel. We did a dinner boat cruise along the river, went shopping on the Khoa San Road, saw the snake farm and visited PatPong.

we found the kind of snake that bit J in Vietnam at the snake farm

we found the kind of snake that bit J in Vietnam at the snake farm

The Khoa San at night time

The Khoa San at night time

cocktails at the Tawana

cocktails at the Tawana

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I didn’t like PatPong as my much as Bangla Road, it’s the same kind if thing but it feels seedier somehow, everything is hidden behind curtains and there isn’t the same party feel as in Patong…. On the 9th of December we flew home….

….then on the 12th of January we flew back to Bangkok! We went to the Sea Life Centre at the Siam Centre because I wanted too, it was a bit pricey but we thought it was worth it! We’d seen an episode of Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey that claimed to have found the best pad thai in Bangkok. The place was by the Ghost Gate on the Maha Chai Road – the ‘Thipsam’. It’s a street-food/restaurant set up, and the queue was down the street! It didn’t take too long though and we ate. It was 80 baht each- and yes, it was the best pad thai I’ve eaten yet!!!

street food at Maha Chai

street food at Maha Chai

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cool jellyfish close-up

cool jellyfish close-up

On the 17th of January we flew to Phuket. Obviously we went partying down Bangla! Same same!! And that brings us pretty much up to date for now ❤️

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We’re Back!!!!!

Apologies to everyone that the blog has been so quiet but we had a bit of a shocker that had to be kept strictly hush hush…. Basically while we were in Thailand with Jamie’s parents the chef at their pub at home walked. It costs about £250 a day for an agency chef so the decision was made to fly Jamie home to take the pub through Christmas…. No one wanted to leave me in Thailand on my own for 5 wks over Christmas and New Year so Ted paid for me to fly home too (thanks you Ted! X). We couldn’t post anything about us coming home because it was to be kept secret for various reasons.

Anyway- after travelling for nearly 24hrs yesterday, this morning we have woken up back in Bangkok and super excited to pick up where we left off!! The time at home has been lovely, spending Christmas with our families and seeing all of our friends. But I can’t wait now to carry on with our adventures! Watch this space

Into the Mekong Delta… Our last big adventure

My bike was fixed!! We finally left Mui Ne, we’d had a brilliant time there, but it felt like we needed to get back on the road. We are due to fly to Phuket on the 20th which meant we only had 10 days left in total for Vietnam and I really wanted to see the Delta. Plus our friend Steve from Nha Trang has agreed to meet us in Can Tho and holiday with us into Saigon! So strange to think we’ve been here for almost 10 weeks! It’s come around quickly but we’ve done so much it also feels like we’ve been here for ages- if that makes any sense! Apart from when Jamie couldn’t walk and we were restricted by his recovery (and thank God he recovered so quickly and completely) I really feel we’ve done everything we set out to do and see, plus so many more unexpected surprises!!

Day 1 – 160 Km. Mui Ne to Ba Ria…

Felt good to be on the go again! My bike now had a new engine so I couldn’t take it over 60 kph while I ran it in. The owner of the hostel we were staying in suggested we follow the coastal road rather than highway 1 which is apparently full of pot holes. The ride was easy except for one puncture in Phan Thiet. Jamie needed a new inner tube for his front wheel and unfortunately it was one of those times that we very nearly got screwed. The mechanic removed his wheel then pretty much refused to change the inner tube, saying we had to buy a new tyre for 600,000 (about £18). After a fair amount of arguing he changed the inner tube and then scowled a lot as we went on our way! What can you do? Every other time we’ve had a problem with our bikes the locals have stopped to help us, and its never cost us much before.
It was also our 3 yr anniversary, the money we’d planned to splash on a posh hotel ended up being spent on my motorbike! But we still had a lovely supper x lots of people said before we came travelling that we would find it hard and that we’d argue a lot. The thing is we’re used to living in each other’s pockets, and yes we annoy each other some days, but we’ve been getting along so well since we’ve been away. I couldn’t imagine being here with anyone else. Here’s to us J x

Day 2 – 170 km. Ba Ria to Ben Tre…

We were very much mistaken when we thought this would be a breeze! Unfortunately what our map didn’t show us was that the ferry we intended on crossing was within the boundaries of a military base! So we detoured north, around the outskirts of Saigon and then headed south into the Delta. We had our first ferry crossing on this day! It cost about 10p for both bikes and us. It is even hotter down here than anywhere else we’ve been yet. On the ferry there are lorries and loads of other bikes all parked on a flat platform. You can imagine, with all those engines around you it’s like being in a furnace! Quite an experience though!

crossing the bridge with Saigon in the background...

crossing the bridge with Saigon in the background…

 

sunset in Ben Tre...

sunset in Ben Tre…

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ferry crossings

ferry crossings

on another ferry, and next to a lorry full of Beer Saigon!

on another ferry, and next to a lorry full of Beer Saigon!

Day 3 – 80 km Ben Tre to Can Tho…

The further west you go the more wild the delta becomes. The roads are narrow, but good, and there is so much to look at you don’t really want to go fast anyway. Everywhere around you is there is thick jungle and winding little waterways. Locals are dozing in hammocks, or fishing, or laying out produce to dry in the sun. It really is a different world. We did another three ferry crossings, and we rode over a narrow bridge with actual holes in it! I couldn’t help thinking those holes were probably big enough for my bike wheel to jam in, and this bridge crosses the river! There were metal sheets layered out over the worst of it… Bit scary but fun too. Can Tho is a huge city, the traffic is pretty hectic too. We arrived, checked in, and went off to find Steve!

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the mighty Mekong

the mighty Mekong

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Day 4 – 110 km Day Trip from Can Tho to Vi Thanh…

Because our first hotel was a little out of the way we checked into another in a better location. We stayed right down on the riverfront. Can Tho is not particularly geared up for Western tourists but there is a small area down on the river that has a few bars and restaurants. The local ex-pat community are very friendly and we were made really welcome at a little place called the Mekong. Our hotel was perfectly acceptable and about £10 a night. Plus it was right next door to the Mekong so breakfast was easy.

Jamie, Steve and I set aside a day to explore further south-west into the Delta. It was spectacular and so very different to the rest of Vietnam. We travelled along a road that follows the river, the jungle is thick and impenetrable on the other side. Red Vietnamese flags line the road, and blossoming shrubs scatter vibrant yellows and oranges. There are banana trees; heavy with fruit and enormous red blossoms. There are food sellers, fishermen out on the river, and people spreading out rice, fish, and coconut shells to dry on the roads. And the air changes- I know it sounds strange but it does… As you ride along and reach a break in the trees the air drops from that jungle sweat-box heat and you pass through a pocket of cool air. The earthy smells of vegetation drop to the richness of the water. It was an incredible experience and one we’ll never forget.

produce drying in the sun

produce drying in the sun

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Day 5 – was just spent relaxing because that many kilometres in four days will just about ruin your bum, shoulders and back!

Day 6 – 175km Can Tho to Saigon…

This was the last long ride of our trip! It felt a little sad, but at the same time I’m not sure I could have done much more. So much of the time we have been on the go- its been loads of fun but nearly everything in my backpack needed washing and I was excited about getting to Thailand. The roads to Saigon are mainly just motorways, not a lot to see, but quick and comfortable to ride on. At one point the plastic covering over Jamie’s back brake and indicators fell off and went bouncing down the road. I pulled him over and as we were contemplating going back for it three huge lorries ran it over!

I won’t lie, I was nervous about riding into Saigon, but if I wasn’t ready now after ten weeks and almost 3,000 km I guess I never would be… Riding into Saigon really was crazy, I don’t think roads can get any busier than this! The traffic creeps along bumper to bumper, mopeds are fifteen deep, horns blaring… its chaos! You can’t hesitate for a second, you just have to keep crawling along with the flow. Our friend Steve was knocked off his bike and grazed his arm, he was badly bruised but luckily he was okay after a couple of days. We enjoyed Saigon for the four days we had there. Our main focus was to sell our motorbikes. Our first offer was $100 for both, then $140 from another guy. We’d always said if we could get half our money back we’d be happy. To be honest anything back was a bonus- the experience we’ve had with the bikes was worth every penny. We advertised them on Craigslist and ended up selling them to a local Vietnamese guy for $200. He said he would fix them up and sell them locally. I was sad to sell my bike, but they did us well and I’m really considering getting my bike licence back home in the UK. I love it too much to give up now!!

Saigon traffic

Saigon traffic

After selling the bikes we found we were kind of just waiting around for a couple of days until our flight to Thailand. It was a huge weight off our shoulders to have actually sold the bikes (even more of a surprise to have been happy with the price). Once that was done we were able to wander around the city doing the normal touristy things… Saigon is so vibrant I felt I could walk around for ages just soaking up the vibe of the city. I preferred it to Hanoi. The war museum was a harrowing experience, I would definitely recommend it.

We had lunch one day in a place that served hand-pulled noodles. You could watch the chefs making them- they stretch out a piece of dough and double it, cut it, stretch it, double it… until they have a big bunch of noodles- very cool! For our last night Jamie treated me to a gorgeous sushi supper and we met our friends afterwards for some goodbye drinks.

Thank you Vietnam!! Its been absolutely incredible! I have fallen in love with this country- and I’ll never forget these past three months! Jamie and I both said we will most definitely come back one day. But for now its goodbye Vietnam and onwards to Thailand!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxx

view of the city from our hotel room

view of the city from our hotel room

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the last time we parked our bikes up...

the last time we parked our bikes up…

 

 

 

 

The Lovely Mui Ne: Sand Dunes, Backpackers and Breakdowns…

Mui Ne is a busy little coastal town. Full of bars and clubs and lots of good places to eat. We enjoyed our time here a lot, although we had to hang around longer than we’d have liked because of my bike… (more on that later).
We stayed at the Backpackers Village. Nice rooms, gorgeous pool, cheap food and drink. The place is mostly full of English and American backpackers, mostly everyone is nice and we made quite a few friends during our time here. Travelers can be an odd bunch though… I’ve decided I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to my fellow backpacker. I think we fall roughly into three categories:

  1. ENTHUSIASTSSSS!!!!– Friendly- can be a bit ‘clique-ey’. Loud. Talk mostly about themselves because everything that’s happened to them has been ‘amaazing’ … Cambodia is the most amazing of all amazing-ness, (and they always say it like this: ‘Cam-Bow-Dee-Aaahh.) They travel in groups mostly, all think Vietnam is ‘definitely amazing’, life-changing etc. etc. (Note: they may have only been here 2 days but totally get it right away). (Funniest thing I overheard was a girl in the bathroom saying how ‘amazing Cambodia is’, when asked if she’d been there, she replies ‘Erm… no but I’ve totally seen pictures and it really looks amazing’….).
  2. So-So’s– Still friendly. Quiet. Mostly found travelling alone. Much more Reserved. They have been to most places but they haven’t loved that much of it. Things were ”dirty’ or ‘strange’ or ‘not like home’, they’ll say this and wrinkle their noses a bit… Definitely hardly anything was ‘amazing’.
  3. Other– Varied. Mostly friendly. By far the most common category. You may have to work a little to strike up a friendship but probably worth the effort.  Can look moody but most likely just shy, its worth trying to make conversation. I think most travelers are just normal. Take away the two extremes above and the friends we’ve made have also been incredibly interesting and have made our time and experiences more special. I’d like to think Jamie and I are ‘Others’, maybe you have to see what its like for yourself to really appreciate it but some people are just so over the top I don’t know what to think!

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Anyways, glad I got that off my chest… We planned to visit the White and Red sand dunes one afternoon. The white first and then the red at sunset. This was my first riding a bike on sand- difficult! I think I got used to it about the time we were fit to leave. The dunes were very beautiful, although the amount of quad bikes spoilt it a little. We walked around for twenty minutes or so- its hot work walking up sand dunes!- then we left for the red ones. A couple of kilometers out my bike screeched, thudded and died. We were faced with a 22 km walk home. Luckily some Vietnamese guys on a trap pulled by oxen stopped to help us. They showed us how you can push a bike with one rider on the dead bike and another on a working bike behind. I had to scooch along to get a bit of momentum then the ‘pusher’ (Jamie) has to put his foot on the engine box and….(balance….) you’re off! It was tricky to say the least but we got there. He had to kick me into traffic at times, duck in behind me and then resume the foot push! Still, it was preferable to walking/hand-rolling the bike back 22 km! The news at the mechanics was not good, I needed a new engine and it would take three days. We paid a very reasonable price and resigned ourselves to waiting. There are worse place in the world to be stuck in I’m sure!!

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herd of oxen crossing the road...

herd of oxen crossing the road…

We went to a foam party one night, watched the football another… Our days were spent chilling around the pool. We met some really nice people from Liverpool, and a group of Americans that were a lot of fun. We had our favourite dinner: blue swimmer crabs in a restaurant next door and while we were eating the heavens opened… the owner and the manager were sat beside us and convinced us not to go! they bought us beer all night and kept bringing us more food. He was a Korean fisherman and we got some off his catch to try- grilled baby octopus! it was actually very tasty!

I felt so nervous on the day we had to pick up my bike but the man had managed to fix it (YAY!!!). It really felt like it was time to get back on the road. We want to explore the delta before heading into Saigon. The next morning then, we said goodbye to Mui Ne and the friends we’d made there and headed to Ba Ria….

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Treating ourselves x The Fiore Healthy Resort…

We’ve been using Hotels.com whenever we can to book our rooms. They have a rewards scheme where if you book 10 nights you get a free night based on your average spend… So, we found this little resort and decided to treat ourselves to a little luxury for 2 nights.

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Call me mad (it’s still around 30 degrees at night) but I’ve been wanting a good long soak in the tub for weeks. I figure I’ll just blast the air-con, pour some wine and run a nice hot bubbly bath! When we checked-in it turns out that our room only has a shower and it’s £12 a night more for the room with a bath 😦 we showed the lady our booking and got a free upgrade (woop woop!!) to an amazing room. Two full glass walls overlooking the ocean and the grounds. The view in the morning was just beautiful.

view from our room

view from our room

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bubbles!

bubbles!

We’d read that it was expensive to eat/drink at the resort so we came prepared with gin & tonic and a bottle of red! The restaurant was ridiculously expensive and then they added 15% on top of everything. Funny thing is we had two beers at 50,000 dong, then the waitress says it’s 60,000 because of the 15% charge… I’m slow at maths but 15% of 50,000 isn’t 10,000! When I pointed this out she just bursts out laughing and agreed to give us our change (still 500 short)! Funny girl! I wonder how many people just don’t notice or don’t say? It’s only small change but I bet it would soon add up!

Despite this the staff here were really lovely here, very friendly and helpful. The pool was big and you got a fresh towel every visit. I can’t quite say how amazing this was for us as our towels are nearly 3 months in now and quite frankly they are humming! There were these tiny little midges with bright white wings that destroyed us- we didn’t realise they were biters until it was too late! The bites only came up tiny but I must have been gotten about 30 times! Not sure what they were, sand flies maybe? they only appeared in the afternoon, none at all in the mornings. Strange…

We rode out for a cheaper dinner- seafood hotpot with king prawns, squid and clams. The pot bubbles away on a stove in front of you- very yummy and very hot! It’s surprising how many spicy hot soups you find on menus here- given that the average daily temperatures are in the mid-thirties! They had the cutest puppy. We smuggled him bits of prawn shell!

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Not a lot in Phan Rang!!

We stopped here for two nights, but really we only needed the one. Unfortunately there was literally nothing going on here! We managed to find one bar called the Unique Beer Club, the staff were friendly enough. I don’t think they get many Westerners as it went back to everything we said being totally hilarious! (They can be a funny lot the Vietnamese, I think it’s just like nervous laughter, but I’m not sure sometimes- it’s not like anyone is ever rude- it’s just a bit weird!)
Thankfully the street food places we found for dinner were very good- but then they mostly are in Vietnam- and so cheap!
So we drank beer, watched films and ate good food. Can’t complain really!

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Nha Trang xxx

We loved Nha Trang! Voted as the 29th most beautiful bay in the world… Funny because after all we’d heard, I don’t think we really expected to love it as much as we did. Lots of people complain that the city is too touristy. Fine, it is a bit touristy (whatever that means anyway! what’s not to like? if you dislike lots of bars and choices of restaurant then go inland.. you’ll soon lose all of that!). We did over 400 km on our motorbikes through the Central Highlands, coming from places like Plie Kan in the middle of nowhere- from one extreme to the other- I know where I’d rather be!!.

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view from our hotel

view from our hotel

Also, everyone we talked to said it was ‘full of Russians’, like that’s a really bad thing (?) well… the Russians seemed nice enough to us: never rowdy and smartly dressed in the evening. They pretty much kept themselves to themselves. In fact, the worst behaviour we witnessed involved a group of British backpackers. They were gross: swearing, shouting that ‘the Russians’ were all rude and miserable, the girls were even worse than the boys. Think Magaluf. Quite honestly it was embarrassing.

We found a really good street food place that quickly became one of our favourites. It was the usual – plastic chairs on a street corner. A lady cooks your food to order right in front of you and it was so yummy! We went back several times.

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Our first hotel was the Phu Quy. Read it phonetically: ‘fook-you’ or going on how the staff treat you ‘f*ck-you’ might be more fitting! They really were terrible- either looking at you with a moderate level of disgust or (preferably) ignoring you completely! We’ve been in Vietnam nearly two months and I’m sorry to say but the service is seriously hit or miss. The Phu Quy Hotel was a mess. We checked out and into another guest house for £3.50 a night, and it was perfectly fine.

We spent quite a few days at the Louisiane Brewhouse. It was just over £1 each to rent a sun lounger, then you can use their pool for free. Jamie’s foot was almost completely better now too. We were very happy!

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A guy we met at the Brewhouse suggested a couple of good, cheap bars to us. We checked out the Watering Hole that evening and met an English guy named Steve who now lives in Nha Trang. He really looked after us while we were there. One day he took us to see a working temple on a hill that overlooks the city. We rode out through beautiful fields with grazing water buffalo and mountains in the background. Then up this little track to a reservoir where we sat and chilled for awhile. At the temple he showed us how to pray, and taught us the words. It was an amazing experience, very different to the temples you can visit in places like Hoi An. There it feels like nothing more than a tourist trap and everyone is using flash photography and talking loudly- no one covers up or removes their shoes. This place was different. It felt serene and peaceful. A hidden gem.

 

Nha Trang in the background

Nha Trang in the background

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Steve letting some cows cross the road...

Steve letting some cows cross the road…

 

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And we went up this little mountain track to a beautiful river, and a cafe in the thick of the jungle for an ice cold beer. On the ride home we went to Bai Dai beach- to a place owned by some French guys that Steve knew. Very beautiful. We’d never have seen any of this without a local’s knowledge, so thank you again Steve! We feel very privileged to be taken to such wonderfully hidden places . We miss you already!! We had such a good time just chilling too- drinking in the evenings, or just out to watch the football. It was one of those times when you meet someone and right away you just get along. Such a genuinely nice guy x

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Bai Dai beach

Bai Dai beach

burger with reblochon cheese on the menu!

burger with reblochon cheese on the menu!

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Unfortunately two of our days were wasted because I got food poisoning. First time so far so I guess I can count myself lucky- and guess what?! It was from a bloody hotdog!

After I’d gotten better Jamie treated me to a posh meal at the Sailing Club. We had a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon and watched the sunset over the ocean. Later we ended up in the Rooftop Bar (Steve’s place) and I had my first B52 shooter! They set it on fire!

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On our last night we went to the opening night of Steve’s friend’s bar. We had free steak and CHEESE!! I miss cheese so much- it’s so expensive here…. It was a lovely way to end our time in Nha Trang. We had so much fun there!

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Dalat

Dalat is a city like no other in Vietnam. The city was begun by the French as a mountain retreat and has been described as ‘like the French Alps in spring’. Surrounded by mountains, pine forests and lakes. Dalat is literally a breath of fresh air.

Nestled in the  South Central Highlands at abound 1,500 m above sea level, it’s much cooler up here than down on the coast. In fact, it was the first time we sat and (mildly amused by the fact) declared ourselves cold! Unfortunately the activities we had planned for this area were written off on account of Jamie’s foot: we really wanted to go canyoning (you abseil down through waterfalls and swim through rapids that form natural water-slides!). I hope one day we’ll go back and do all of this. It was such a shame but at least Jamie was getting better.

On the way up Jamie had to get the bus with Bell and I had a new riding partner. Our friends in Quy Nhon suggested we take the route in from Nha Trang as the road is better than the route from Cam Ranh, and- oh my goodness what a road! the climb is incredible and the traffic not too busy. You can literally feel the temperature dropping as you ascend!

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Our first night was in the Beepub hostel. There was live music downstairs every night, the staff were friendly and the whole place has a really quirky design.

 

 

I'm cold!! hahaha

I’m cold!! hahaha

charming little sink!

charming little sink!

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...I was allowed to!

…I was allowed to!

Dalat has such a good vibe, even though we were restricted with what we could do I’m glad we went- the nights of live music drinking in the Beepub were worth it!!