Well our time in Vietnam has been hindered by the weather. I know they always say to not depend on the weather but we really didn’t think we would get hit with the extremes that we have been so far. As you know we haven’t posted a blog or video for a while and we apologise, but due to a certain typhoon we have been all over the place and had to change a lot of our original plans.
We started our Vietnamese adventure in Ho Chi Minh City, what a crazy place to wake up to from a night bus. I have never seen so many scooters in all my life, this was where we learnt to cross the road .. just walk. The locals don’t want to hit you, and you only have interest for making it to the other side of the road, so either put your hand in the sky or just make yourself known, and walk straight through. It was nerve wracking at the start but Georgi and I have become accustomed to meeting on the other side of busy roads now.
Our highlights from HCMC included the War Remnants Museum, which was well worth a visit to understand what the Vietnamese went through during the 19 year war with the USA. It also only costs the equivalent of £1 to enter, it was worth that just to get a close look of the planes, tanks and helicopters parked out front.
We popped into the Saigon Central Post Office, which was built in the 19th century when Vietnam was still part of French Indochina. It looks incredible and once you get past the crowds of Chinese tourists, it’s well worth a 15 min visit.
Our evening consisted of a visit to the Bitexco financial tower, which has a sky deck on the 49th floor for panoramic views of Saigon city. It was incredible, but we learnt soon after this that the view from the “Heli Bar” on the 52nd floor is just as good and doesn’t hold the 200,000VNDpp price tag (£6.50ish pp). That’s extremely expensive in Vietnam! A local beer costs between 10-25k (£1 = 30,000VND). Beers which usually cost 10-25k were 145k at the Heli Bar so be warned, it’s not a cheap venture.
Our plan was to head from HCMC to Mui Ne and then up to Nha Trang following the amazing coastal roads but this is where Typhoon Damrey hit. With the equivalent strength of a category 2 hurricane Damrey swept through the Philippines and made landfall on the east coast of Vietnam. From my last look at local news, the fatalities stand at 151 with Damrey being the strongest storm to make landfall in Vietnam in 16 years. So we travelled from HCMC to Da Lat, which is 3 hours from the coast and 1500m above sea level .. we were being very safe.
Our video from our time in DaLat is already uploaded for you to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8qvAbVimvQ
Our hostel was great and really looked after us while we attempted to make plans around the typhoon. It was here that we quickly learnt to drive scooters before hitting the crazy Vietnamese roads. The poor lads face at the hostel when we both said we hadn’t ridden a scooter yet was priceless, and was even better after I drove into a 10 foot pile of sand on my first attempt around a bend. But after around 30 minutes practice we were up to the local standard .. if you’ve been to Vietnam you know what I mean.
Da Lat was a fantastic place but it was much bigger than we thought it was going to be. It seemed like it was a nice holiday spot for well off Vietnamese businessmen who were wanting to play 18 holes of golf. The French influence is unmissable with cafe’s on every corner, bakeries open from 5am and local red wine on all drinks menu’s. There is even a red and white Eiffel Tower in Da Lat centre.
There’s loads to do in and around Da Lat so I’m not going to go into any detail, you can just enjoy the video, but we went to: The cable car (make sure to walk down to the lake and enjoy a hot pot with freshly caught fish)
The Datalana waterfall (take the rollercoaster down to the falls for an extra 20,000VND)
Elephant waterfall (the bike ride was insane and the falls even more so).
From Da Lat we travelled to Hoi An hoping the devastation wasn’t to bad, but we arrived to a city under water. The old town was completely flooded, we got as close as 5 streets back from the river bank.
We witnessed people still being evacuated from their homes in boats, whilst tourists still walked around and took pictures of the unaffected streets. It was a very surreal experience to walk around an aftermath of a typhoon where there were so many tourists. It just seems to be the Vietnamese way – life must go on.
We stayed for 3 nights at an amazing homestay called “Golden Lantern Homestay” and I would highly recommend it to anyone. The family catered for us all so well knowing we were all stuck in Hoi An. They invited us to the 4th anniversary of their grandmothers death lunch .. which turned out to be the biggest daytime boozing session I’ve seen to date. With over 100 people in attendance, free food and beer, it just escalated quickly. The family and friends of the homestay kept coming to the “guests table” to down a drink with us .. this was up to 10 beers before I had time to think. With all of us in bed very early that night for some reason, it meant no hangovers the next day and after a few more failed scooter rides due to weather, unfortunately we had to change our plans.
We decided to fly north to Hanoi in search of some dry weather.