Our LAST EVER Asian blog this year!
Trip Start Jan 21, 2011
23Trip End May 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
Blue Star Hotel
Nha Trang itself was so much better than we expected: clean, well maintained and not yet ruined by tourists like us. A small part of me was expecting it to be like Sihanoukville but thankfully it couldn't have been more different. The beach is approximately 10km long so crowding was never an issue, although many people made the Louisiane Brewery their base due to its prime location on the beautiful sand in the main tourist district
We had decided to stay longer in Nha Trang and go straight to Saigon rather than making another pitstop in either Mui Ne or Dalat, both popular spots on the tourist trail and with different draws; Mui Ne is another beach resort and Dalat is in the mountains. Having researched a little bit more we worked out we would spend more of our ever decreasing budget if we moved on, and not being able to afford to do any more tours meant that we could face being bored in either place. Therefore as we looked around us at the pretty white sand and invitingly warm blue sea, we made our decision to stay. Not a difficult one really and we were fed up with moving on somewhere new every 3 days so looked forward to being able to settle somewhere for a while. Unfortunately the Tide Hotel was fully booked after 3 nights so we did actually move somewhere in the centre of town for our last 4 days, the Blue Star hotel.
On one of our first nights out we ended up in Crazy Kim's bar, home to the 'Hands off the kids' campaign. Kim is a bit of a local celebrity since she began her charity to remove paedophilia from the streets of Nha Trang in 1999. Her campaign grew and saw t.shirts bearing the "Hands off the kids" slogan being worn by locals and tourists alike in her bid to protect street children. The bar is now quite a professional affair and also doubles up as a school for disadvantaged children every morning and afternoon. It also has an extremely tempting happy hour from 12pm to midnight, with 2 for 1 beers, cocktails and shots! It was after about 4 of these cocktails that Tom and I decided it would be a cracking idea to sign up to teach English at the school, an option available to anyone willing and with time on their hands. We put our names down for the next morning's class and should have reined in our drinking accordingly, but alas no...
The next day we awoke with a slight fear in our bellies at what was to come at the class, and we dragged ourselves groggily out of bed and embarked on the 5km bike ride into town from our hotel. It had the desired affect of at least waking us up a little and we hoped breakfast would cover any lingering alcohol fumes on our breath
It's fair to say that the next hour and a half of our lives was a particularly torturous affair while we struggled to figure out what on earth these kids knew about the English language. Thankfully neither of us are complete thickertons, and after our brief introduction where we told them we were married and from England, my slightly bossy nature was given a chance to shine
Hilariously we had actually almost enjoyed our time and vowed to make a proper lesson plan if we were to go back tomorrow, so we got back to the hotel and Wikipedia'd England. It's amazing how much we didn't know about our own country! We cobbled something together and hoped it would last the class time. That night we made sure we stayed sober so that the next day wasn't so much of a test of our endurance! Upon arrival in the classroom their usual teacher was there, a stern Vietnamese man intent on watching us teach the class. We thanked our lucky stars we had a lesson plan and began to teach them about the laws of England
A few days later the Royal Wedding took place and we were thankful that we could watch it on CNN from our hotel room. We got a couple of beers and watched William marry Kate, knowing that we would always know where we were on that day! The day finally dawned when we had to move to Saigon and leave Nha Trang behind. It was a 12 hour long bus ride, only made bearable by the thought that it would be our last ever bus this time in Asia! We had booked into the Bich Duyen hotel in Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh city) and found the most comfortable beds and pillows and best shower we had yet encountered! It was blissful until we were woken by drilling from the hotel next door at 8am. At least it got us out of bed and we went out on the streets to explore
The city is very busy and noisy, and all the restaurants and bars are a lot more expensive than anywhere else in Vietnam so our time was spent trying desperately to find cheap eats and drinks. Regretfully we ran out of money and were not able to go on the Cu Chi tunnels tour, something I had wanted to do to see how the local Vietnamese villagers coped and survived during the Vietnam war by building underground tunnel networks. We were careful not to eat into any more of our Australia budget, knowing full well we would have to get used to things being triple the price of Asia when we arrived, and so spent our last day wandering the streets and holing ourselves up in our hotel room to watch Star Movies!
So here we are, our Asian adventure has come to an end. We have had a fantastic time with some absolutely amazing experiences as well as some not so amazing ones (leeches anyone?!), and the opportunity to make some friends for life. We now have the next year ahead of us in Australia to look forward to and we cannot wait to arrive in Darwin and begin our first campervan tour of the country. Bring it on!