A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: JonAndSara

Night Bus

By Jon

When you first step onto one of the overnight sleeper buses in Vietnam you think they’re pretty smart. They’re clean, look fairly new and have nice reclining seats for you to sit or sleep on. When I first began the trip from Hoi An to Nha Trang I even started to enjoy the journey as I listened to music and relaxed while watching the scenery go by.

It’s only when you try to sleep that you find the problems occur. Firstly the seats don’t fully recline. Instead of folding back fully horizontally, the back half of the seat stays 30 degrees upright to allow storage under your seat. This must also save space in the bus and allows them to fit more passengers in, but my advice to them is BUY BIGGER BUSES because it makes it incredibly difficult to sleep if, like me, you never seem able to fall asleep on your back.

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I tried sleeping on my back in a reclined position but that didn’t work and I kept getting an incredibly sore neck as my head flopped sideways with the movement of the bus. I tried sleeping on my side, but the angle of the seat and the cramped conditions made it uncomfortable and the hard seat below made it feel like I had been punched in the ribs due to lying on them for several hours. The fake leather upholstery makes you sweat and stick to the fabric and the lights in the bus, that they switch on just before making a stop, wakes you up just as you think you’re about to drop off.

About an hour before the bus arrived at its destination (5am) I found the comfiest solution – I laid on my back and supported my neck on one side with my hand luggage. It was cramped but it helped. However I still couldn’t get any proper sleep knowing I’d be getting off shortly.

All in all I think I got less than an hours sleep but it still ranks better than being chucked off the bus at 2am in an unknown spot in China with no idea how to get somewhere safe.

Needless to say, I have now booked a flight to Ho Chi Minh City to avoid another sleepless night on a bus.

On the upside, I don’t feel too tired and I did get to see this in Nha Trang…

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Posted by JonAndSara 06:42 Archived in Vietnam Tagged bus Comments (0)

This little piece of heaven

By Sara

I walk towards this beach that looks packed, my expectations are not high. Another soulless beach full of people making noise and spoiling the nature. (You know, like most packed holiday beaches).

How wrong could I be! This place is something else. As I continue walking, the magic of this piece of heaven unfolds. There are lots of people there, yes, but surprisingly this is what makes this place extra special. What I come across is a sea of Vietnamese families enjoying rice and noodles in their little groups around mini tables lit with candles. I notice there is an array of the most amazing mix of street food all along the beach, which you order at your table and is served by the most lovely Vietnamese ladies.

I pick a candle lit table right beside the sea, one that is away from all the hustle and bustle and order a beer and some squid noodles. This is the life! It's costing me about a pound for this! If I was paying for this service and setting in Europe I'd be adding a zero to the back if this bill!

I sit there on my tiny (but very comfy) chair, listening to the waves softly crash by my feet (my all time favourite sound). The sea is full of boats, but in the night, it looks like a blanket of tea lights floating on the ocean. Purely stunning.

I watch the sun set behind the palm trees and the stars in the sky and think how lucky I am to be here.

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Posted by JonAndSara 01:38 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

This May Be The Beer Talking But...

By Jon

Having been dropped off in Hoi An old town by the hotel shuttle bus I wasn't sure what to make of the place. It would be three hours until the bus comes to pick me up and the town looks pretty small. Countless numbers of tailors, art galleries and souvenir shops line the streets but they don't really appeal to me. I know it's common practice to come to Hoi An and get a made to measure suit or dress made at a ridiculously low cost but I really don't want to have to lug a suit around the rest of the world with me for the next 10 months and I'm not really in the right frame of mind to get a new dress either.

I started to worry how I would fill the time on my own - Sara had decided to spend the day lazing by the hotel pool for the second day running so I was on my own. If Sara were here I would have enjoyed wandering through the streets with her, stopping in one of the numerous cafes for a drink and lazily looking in the shops (well Sara would look in all the shops, she would love all the fabric here and would have spent hours looking at them - actually perhaps its best she isn't with me, I'd be getting dragged into clothing stores until my eyes started to bleed).

After half an hour of strolling through the streets my fears started to subside. Although Hoi An is chockablock with tailors' shops that I'm not interested in, the place has something I haven't come across in all the towns and cities encountered on our travels so far - charm. It creeps up slowly but the place really begins to grow on you, and after spending a good amount of time here its abundance of charm envelopes you and you start to understand the magic of the place.

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It's enhanced by the peace and quiet of the place (by Vietnamese standards). There aren't thousands of mopeds threatening to run you over on every street as the roads are fairly empty. Even the shop owners seem less keen to harass you into their store. Having said that, one woman followed me halfway down the street in an attempt to get me into her shop, talking at me all the way.

"Hello, hello. You very handsome. Where you from? London? Me too. You come in my shop, buy suit."

Now I can agree with her calling me handsome but I have to seriously question whether this short, middle-aged Vietnamese woman with stilted English was genuinely from London, so I continued to pass by until she stopped following.

The longer I stay in Hoi An old town the more I love the area. I'd like to say this is purely down to the charm of the place however I think I'm also being influenced by the riverside cafe I'm currently sitting in as I compose this blog. The beer here costs 4,000 VND (around 11 pence) and I'm now on my third. I think I should end this blog before their eight hour happy hour turns into passing out hour.

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Posted by JonAndSara 02:09 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam hoi_an Comments (0)

A bit about Vietnam

By Sara

We have been in Vietnam for 10 days now and it seems to have flown by. I think this is because we spent most of it being spoilt rotten at my friends house and the rest of it on a luxury (by traveller standards) cruise boat. It has seemed more like a holiday than a backpacking trek! Hey I'm not complaining! If I had a Steve Price-Thomas host in every country, I'd be a very happy traveller!

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Because of this welcoming comfort that has come upon me, I have to say, I've got a bit lazy, wallowing in my comfort! They do say you need to take comfort breaks when you are travelling to stop burnout but I think I may have been taking it a bit to far!

Now that I have moved out of Steve's house and back into travel lodging (£4.50 per night accommodation), it's hit me like a slap in the face! Where is my evening Gin and Tonic?? Where am I going to do my washing? Who's going to recommend amazing places to visit? Damn I'm going to have to get up off my ass and do some research! And swap my refreshing G&T for a budget friendly carton of juice!

Actually our £4.50 accommodation is fine, if you ignore the owner who seems to not know what a shirt is and his staff that seem to not know what a smile is! The room is clean and spacious with private bathroom and air con. That's all we need really. Although it didn't stop us from booking a hotel with a pool at our next destination - Hoi An. Only because we got a deal and it's within budget. Always keeping an eye out for them!! Also Hoi An is meant to be a holiday destination, so, when in Rome..... (Or should I say Hoi An...)

I guess I should probably talk a bit about the culture and the way things go here. Well it's great actually. There are no high rise buildings, (yet, I think there are some in Ho Chi Minh). Everyone travels around on scooters which are fab to watch. It's crazy, there are thousands of them on the roads, like hoards of bumble bees, that swerve away from you (instead of sting you) when you get close. And the best thing about the roads here is that you don't have to wait for the green man to cross the road, you can just go, and the traffic passes around you. It's fantastic for me as I am so impatient that waiting to cross a road drives me mad! Also the danger of it all is quite exciting! There's that crazy streak in me coming out again! I am aware that this is an unusual outlook on the Vietnam roads and most westerners are too scared to cross! Come on Westerners, embrace your road crossing freedom! God help me when I get back to crossing the UK roads! Splat!

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There are markets everywhere selling anything from engines to fabrics. The fabric stalls are my little piece of heaven!! I feel all inspirational when I'm around them and want to buy all the fabric! I've managed to hold back so far and only bought 2mts of silk, which I am taking to Hoi An tomorrow to be made into a skirt. Apparently Hoi An is the place to get stuff made. I wonder if they will let me use their sewing machines....
And then there's the food stalls that seem to pop up everywhere, out of nowhere! All of a sudden there is a fire on the pavement with a family grilling corn on the cob, or massive pots full of Chow (rice meat porridge soup stuff - amazing!) or something more simple like a pile of coconuts that they will chop the top off and stick a straw in for you. I could go on and on about the amazing food stalls, but I am aware this blog is getting long, and no one likes a blabber mouth! (Or should I say blabber blogger...)

I'll just round up with some of the cultural things we have experienced here in Vietnam. Yes the boring bit, bare with.....

In Hanoi we went to the temple of literature,

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That was the only cultural thing in Hanoi. We mainly just wandered, took in the atmosphere and enjoyed the locally brewed beer for 20p a glass!

Jon talked about Ha long bay in his blog, so that's covered.

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And now we are up to Hue, where we visited the Imperial Palace which was pretty amazing. It was massive and full of ruins, dragon statues, and beautifully decorated old buildings. Also there were many ponds, with gigantic gold fish and Lilly pads and some gardens with the most beautiful smelling flowers. I thought to myself, my Grams would like it here. And she'd know what all the names of the flowers were. I took a moment to remember her.

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And finally, our last cultural experience so far, we saw some US Army tanks and planes that were captured by the Vietnamese during the war. It was fantastic to see! Very interesting and moving at the same time.

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So there you go, Vietnam so far. I hope I haven't bored you to sleep!

Until next time...

Posted by JonAndSara 22:14 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Retraction

By Jon

On the 23rd May 2014 the A Long Way For Dumplings blog inadvertently referred to a short, fiery traveller named Rose as antagonistic. Having since met up with the aforementioned Rose for dinner the editor of this blog would like to fully retract the comment made and apologise for any offence caused. Although it is understood that, just before reading the previous blog, Rose was engaged in a heated discussion with her real estate contacts back in Canada, we would like to convey to our readers that this confrontational attitude was purely coincidental and should not detract from her normally calm and placid attitude. We would also like to confirm that Rose's boyfriend, Marc, in no way supported our comments and in no way at all agreed 100% with what was written.

We now sincerely hope this matter is closed and look forward to the moment Rose removes my private parts from the vice.

Posted by JonAndSara 08:05 Archived in Vietnam Comments (3)

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