On our second day in Hoi An, encouraged by my lack of crashes during the day before on the way to the beach I suggested that we rent out motorbike scooters to go to the ancient Cham ruins at nearby My Son. We managed to move off fairly smoothly entirely in the wrong direction into southern Hoi An. We then went on the wrong roads to get there. Eventually a Vietnamese woman on a motorbike suggested we go to the Marble Mountains. She then lead us there and let us park in front of her marble shop on condition we had a look inside later (although we were hardly the type to buy massive marble statues or even small ones ala James May in Top Gear Vietnam). The Marble mountains was an impressive set of pagodas and caves adorned with Buddas and Hindu idols. It also had some impressive views of the seaside.
We then went to the marble shop and irritated the woman by not buying any marble. We then scootered in the blistering heat to the beach and chilled there. We decided we'd go to My Son later. We then drove round for a bit then returned our bikes due to fear of rain.
The next day we woke up burnt and rented bicycles to look around the old town which currently had festivities going on. I went to an ATM which decided to give me 2 million dong in 500000 notes so I decided I would go to the tailors to get a custom made suit. I got a smart cashmere, silk lined suit for just over 1 million dong (35 pounds). After getting measured I had to wait a day.
We wandered around the town went to the Japanese Bridge, observed a stacking game and a sack race. We also went to another beach briefly where I ordered a Coke and they misheard me and brought me a coconut. For dinner we went to the old town to look at lights. In the bakery I bumped into the strange American from Sapa who I said hello to.
The next day we decided that we would motorbike to My Son before we got on the bus at 5. We turned up at 10 am to collect the suit. Unfortunately a power cut meant it was delayed. So we headed of on the mildly confusing route which included a brief stint on National Highway 1.
The drive through the Vietnamese countryside was lush and provided some spectacular scenery. Out here it wasn't commercial or touristy and it was truly breathtaking. However when we got to My Son we were in for a treat.
My Son like a few of the places we visited is a UNESCO heritage site. However, this wasn't littered with concrete, tarmac, new buildings and vendors. The ruins at My Son looked virtually untouched with some of the structures located in the middle of a jungle covered in moss and vines. There was a few bits of evidence suggesting modern society, but it was only a fence covering an archaeological dig.
After a couple of hours we took a former US military jeep down to our bikes, had lunch and set off into the countryside. To Hoi An to collect my suit.
In the evening we took the bus to Nha Trang. I found it fairly comfortable as there was more leg room. However, Rob had a hard time as there were loads of hard walls surrounding the feet.
When we got to Nha Trang, we took a xeom (motorcycle taxi) to a hotel where we got a decent room. Rob then rented a bicycle whilst me not wanting to bike in immense heat rented a scooter which lacked decent mirrors and had a broken speedometer and fuel gauge.
We headed to the Cham temple towards the North which was alright, perched on the hill but nothing compared to My Son. Following this we headed to Long Son Pagoda which was a Buddhist place of worship. The pagoda was dwarfed by the lying buddah behing it which was dwarfed furthermore by the sitting buddah on the top of the hill.
After visiting the temples we headed to a DIY BBQ style place where we had BBQ beef and fresh Squid which we cooked on our table in a charcoal hotpot sort of thing.
We then headed back towards the centre to have ice cream and book a boat tour. I then was set with the task of checking out some recommended restaurants whilst Rob went to the hotel. As I drove past one of them and began to turn around my bike took a while to start. I got to a roundabout which I would use to turn around. As I got onto the roundabout it appeared I stalled some how. I then scootered (in the foot pushing against the ground way) to the side and tried to start. I realised that I probably had run out of petrol. I managed to start it again but stopped by time I got to the end of the road. I pushed the bike on the pavement for the remaining 200m to the hotel. At the hotel a guy helped me get a litre of petrol.
For dinner we went to the place I was going to look at. Rob interestingly had a curry served in a fresh coconut!
On Day 2 in Nha Trang we went on a Boat Trip of the surrounding islands booked with Mama Linh. The boat was full of both Western and Vietnamese tourists. Our first stop was an island with a fantastic aquarium with loads of different sea creatures (although no jelly fish!).
We then headed to another island where we got to snorkel. I didn't see much fish but the water was refreshingly cool. On the boat we then had lunch on the top where the sun dried us off. We then were told to go down for some entertainment.
The entertainment was surely the highlight of this trip. A 4 person band consisting of the driver, a crew member and the 2 guide had assembled on stage (the seats which folded down. They had a drum kit which was made of plastic barrels and bits and bbobs to make it truly authentic sounding even with a cymbal! They also had an electric guitarist linked to the ships PA system and 2 singers with there mics set to a bit to much reverb. They busted out a few tunes before they got to the round the world bit. In this part they selected tourists from various countries and got them on stage to sing along with them as they played and sang a song from their home country. The reportoire and knowledge of lyrics was amazing. We had songs from Australia, Italy, France, Russia and even Israel. They then turned on the Vietnamese members of the audience and dragged them on to the stage to sing famous Vietnamese songs. They then finished with an international song: Auld lang syne.
We then had a Sea bar in which a crew member on a floating ring raft had a crate of some sort of port and served people who had jumped in the sea. That was a lot of fun and all of us swiming towards him as he was dragged away by rope must have been a sight. After one more stop we then headed back to Nha Trang Harbour where we got bussed backed to the hotel. We had a fairly late dinner but had quite a lot. I then spent a couple of hours ona temperamental computer uploading all the pics up until now (check them out in the gallery).
Today the plan was to go on this cable car which goes across the sea to this island with an amusement park on it. According to my guidebook you could take a 15 minute round trip without going to the park. However when we got there it appears they have taken that away and you have to pay 300 000 to go on the cable car with all the rides and sights included. We only wanted to go on cable car so left an chilled out today for a while in a brewery and in a cafe.
Tonight we head to Saigon by our favourite transport, sleeper bus. Tomorrow is my Birthday and results so I'm sure we should have something to celebrate.
Check out my photos in the gallery which is linked on the right. Also check out Rob's recently published pictures in the link mentioned in his post below.