Day Seven – Hoi An
Our first day in Hoi An! The bus trip from Hue was around four hours including a couple of stops along the way. We stopped in between Hue and Da Nang at the Hai Van Pass, where our bargaining skills were really put to the test. It’s likely your bus will stop here and you will not be approached, as much as mobbed, by vendors selling necklaces, bracelets, ‘real pearls’ and drinks. But the views were worth stopping for – and most of us ended up with jewellery we didn’t really need too.
One of the first things I noticed after a walk around the streets was the colour. Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and beautifully colourful city; shops adorned with silk lanterns, cerise bougainvillea hanging from the colonial buildings, brightly painted tube houses.
Relatively untouched during the Vietnam War, it is home to superb roadside cafes and restaurants, some fabulous French bakeries, a great beach and plenty of diverse architecture. We’d all heard so much about historic Hoi An (I’d personally heard a lot about the wonderful tailors) and we headed straight to one of the largest tailors in town. An hour or two later, Coby and I emerged calculating how many US dollars we’d just spent, considering whether we should just get another couple of things made – given that it would cost three times as much to buy them back home. After a wander around the town we returned for a quick swim in our hotel swimming pool and then readied ourselves for dinner. Huong took us to another fabulous eatery – The Banana Leaf – well worth a visit not least for their indulgent cocktails.
Day Eleven – Nha Trang
We took the bus down to the port where we boarded a small boat for our day-trip to the islands. First stop was a fishing village island. Little kids raced from their homes posing for photos and skipped around our group as we were shown local life. We walked through the village for around 20 minutes before hopping onto a circular basket boat, unique to the area, for a journey back to our vessel. Further offshore our captain anchored, bikinis and boardies were donned and the water-sports began.
I discovered that I can’t snorkel. I just spluttered, then sank, then surfaced gasping for air, rubbing salty water out of my stinging eyes. Note to self: take swimming lessons when you return to NZ and learn to snorkel (again). So I missed out on Nha Trang underwater life – apparently there’s great coral to be seen.
While we splashed around the boat crew cooked us an amazing seafood lunch. We then headed to a pebbly beach to laze in the afternoon sun on deckchairs. After a wonderfully relaxing day we headed to the notorious Sailing Club in the evening to see Nha Trang party life in full-swing – it was Saturday night after all and one of our last nights together.”
Sarah’s blog has been posted on Express over previous weeks, and you can click here to read her first installment. So jump on board Intrepid’s Reunification Express and travel with Sarah from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City!