Where did I leave my winter jacket???

Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
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33
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Trip End Sep 01, 2011


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Where I stayed
Vina Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ahh...so glad to be off that train and in Danang. Taxi please! To the Pacific Hotel. Nope. Nope? What do you mean, No? No, cannot go. Cannot go? We need a ride to our hotel please. The taxi drivers refused to drive us! Finally, one guy offered, for 150,000 dong...we said no thanks and figured it must be close, so we can just walk. We start walking and asking as we go. The locals, besides the jerky taxi drivers at the train station, are so friendly here. It's like a completely different world. So every couple of blocks, we ask for directions again...making sure we aren't going the wrong way. It has to be close right? otherwise, the taxi would drive us, right? Nope. One lady who gave us directions, actually drove around after, looking for us! She found us and offered us a ride...super nice. We didn't accept since we were only another block away from the hotel! But the thought was nice! An hour later...yup...an hour later...we arrived! We still can't figure out for sure why the taxis wouldn't take us...since it would have been a good fare. The only thing I can think of is that they were hoping to get a tourist who wanted a taxi to go all the way to Hoi An...about a 30 minute drive. Unbelievable. Danang is wonderful. Definitely our favorite city in Vietnam...well, that and Saigon.

We spent our days walking the streets, eating at local restaurants...we had no idea what we ordered at one restuarant. We just went in, sat down, and they brought us a large plate of vegetables, a plate of pork, and two plates of rice papers. The lady was so friendly, she even demonstrated how you eat it. Taking one rice paper and placing it on the other, peeling it off together, filling it with veggies and pork, rolling it, and then dipping it in the sauce. Sounds easy...looked easy...NOT easy...lol. We had veggies everywhere, pork falling out, and our rice papers kept splitting in the middle! It was fun...not overly flavorful, but fun and interesting. The locals got a good laugh out of it.

The riverbank was nearby the hotel and nicely maintained. They have marble art sculptures all along the bank, and there are numerous restaurants and pubs around too. The kids love to talk to you, speaking every word of english that they know...How are you my name is Bob...lol..then walk away at full speed. So cute. We saw a really nice looking dinner boat going along the river, so we thought we would inquire. We asked our hotel, they made a phone call, and told us to go to the river to buy our tickets at 6:00pm. Okay. So we walked to where they said...no boat. Hmm...let's ask at this other hotel. They make a phone call, then tell us where to go...the other end of the river! So we race down there, because it is already 5:45pm. We arrive...check the address 3 times...yup...they sent us to a shopping mall!!???!!! There was a little boat on the river at that spot, but it didn't leave until 8pm...and only served drinks. As we walked back down the river, we watched our awesome, dragon looking dinner cruise go by...lol. We were determined to find out where it left from!! We walked for about 2 km along the river, until we found it...in the middle of a construction zone!! Smack dab in the middle of a construction zone!! Who puts a dinner cruise dock there??!! haha. So we didn't get our cruise.

China Beach is beautiful. We walked the 5 km to the beach from our hotel. Along the way, some kids joined us on their bicycles. They too, were on their way to the beach! They said every English word they knew and were all full of smiles! We met them at the beach and watched them bury each other in the sand. The red flags were out, and only one small section was safe for swimming. We are assuming it is because of the tsunami in japan...caused the currents to be too strong. There weren't many people on the beach and the sand is amazing. We could have spent a few days there!

After two nights in Danang, we decided to check out Ba Na Hills...a mountainside resort. The website looks fantastic, the write up looks spectacular, a "cannot be missed" destination. So we hired a car to take us out there for two nights. Old French style colonial buildings, with an indoor amusement center and an old style French Village, three restaurants, thee hotels...sounds amazing! So we took the 45 minute ride out there, hoped on the cable car...that has two guiness world records...one for being the longest one track cable car, and the other for being the highest! The ride was fantastic...more than 30 minutes of cable car over luscious green forests and waterfalls. We arrived to station 2 where you have to transfer to station 3 to go up to our hotel, the Morin Hotel. What a spectacular view...definitely worth it....until we checked in! It's 3:30pm, check in is at 2pm. They start to bring us up to our room when suddenly he decides...nope...you have to wait 15 minutes because your room isn't clean yet. Really?? Okay. So we sit down and 30 seconds later, he comes back and says...Okay, your room is cleaned now. Oh...okay, 30 seconds and my room is clean?? So we go up to our room...umm...the floor wasn't even swept, there was garbage and dust on the floor...that's the good part! I always check the bed....uh...I don't think so...it was obvious that they hadn't even changed the sheets!! There were hairs and stains on the bedding, nevermind the smell of used sheets. The staff finally admitted that they hadn't cleaned the room, so we watched them as they changed everything and swept. The amusement center and French village is still all under construction, the other hotels seem to be falling apart, and the menu was different in Vietnamese than it was in English! haha. This place has the potential to be a 5 star world class resort...it just needs new owners and management! The marble floors aren't polished or cared for, so they are marked with minerals and look terrible. The view, however, is unimaginable!! Spectacular! Fantastic! Marvelous!...and well worth the stay! When the weather is clear, you can see for miles, the beautiful countryside...words can't describe it. Two of the three days we were there, the clouds moved in, so all you could see were clouds...hardly able to see 3 feet in front of you. What an experience! The wild monkeys show up occassionally to steal food...with their mohawk hairstyles. It was a great couple of days...but extremely cold! We had all of our winter wear on and were freezing!

We caught a train from Danang to Hue...three hours...and a spectacular ride! I don't think it's that far to Hue, but the train goes really slow....travelling right along the cliffside, overlooking the green hills and ocean! I couldn't get enough of the scenary. Wonderful.

Hue is freezing!!! We aren't used to cool weather, and I think it's only about 16 degrees...so cold. No heaters. Ugh. The first day, we braved the rain and the cold, bundled up, and walked over to the Imperial City. The old buildings are interesting to look at, walking through the small alleyways, getting lost in the maze of roads....but the actual ruins weren't much to see. They haven't restored a lot, do it's mostly left to your imagination...unless you are a history buff. We enjoyed our day.

We decided that we would buy 4 sleepers on the train back to Saigon...so that we didn't have to share with anyone. But we forgot one thing...it's between a 14 and 25 hour train ride!! I don't think I'm up for that. So, for $15 more, we just bought a flight....haha. We decided to skip out on hanoi...since other tourists advised us that Halong Bay is getting pretty dirty and is full of tourists anyway. Also, since it's freezing cold, we thought we'd leave it to be explored on our next trip...when the weather is nicer...babies...yes we are!

So back to Ho Chi Minh City to get our visas for Cambodia and to find a bus!
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