Team Nha Trang!

Let me start off by saying that I adored Thailand, so arriving in Nha Trang felt like that tropical warm location I had been craving so badly. We were skeptical when we first came across our accommodation online, but after reading through all the Tripadvisor reviews, we decided on Truong Giang. It was ridiculously cheap for a basic yet clean room with A/C. We were extremely happy with our choice. when we first arrived, the receptionist took us aside and handed us a map,explaining in detail her recommendations for restaurants etc. We were very close to all the action, and we spent every evening walking through markets, down the busy restaurant road, and getting pampered at the salons.

img_0205

Far East Rock Cafe

Our favorite restaurant to go to every day was the Far East Rock Cafe. It was just around the corner from our accommodation, and the 3 story restaurant is completed decorated in the Rock & Roll theme. Walls and ceilings are painted murals of  Rock stars and Pop stars (only the cool kind). The beers, cocktails and spirits were ridiculously cheap, as in cheaper than the 7 11. We spent about an hour or 2 there every evening, and then left for dinner somewhere else.

img_1686

Far East Rock Cafe burger.

 

 

We made the mistake of having dinner there the first night. The burgers were huge, and John enjoyed it, but the pizza was awful. I made a separate cheese tower on the plate to try make my pizza more edible. The other 4 nights in Nha Trang were spent at other restaurants. Our favorite 2 spots for food were the following:

  • Lanterns: We loved this place. It was beautifully decorated with hanging lanterns, and the Pha was amazing. Their prices were good, and they had a breakfast special which we went back for. I would definitely recommend it.
  • the Sailing Club: We had such a lovely evening with our dinner at the Sailing Club. It was situated on the beach front, with swaying palm trees and a beach bar. The food was wonderful, and after dinner we relaxed on one of the bed cabanas near the pool. It looked like they were going to do a bonfire on the beach later in the evening, but we didn’t stay that long.

Because we had booked 5 nights in Nha Trang, we were able to do all the things that we had put on our “Nha Trang bucket list”. Our activities were the following:

  • img_02101Thap Ba Hot Springs & Mud baths: We elected to do the private mud baths, although when we went it was quiet so a lot of people had the bigger communal mud pools to themselves. We were given clothes to wear over our costumes, and we then climbed into the mud baths. I was expecting a thick, gooey mud. Instead, the consistency was a little bit thicker than dirt water. I’m glad I can say that I’ve done it, but I wouldn’t do it again.
  • img_0207Vinpearl Park: We loved our time at Vinpearl. We took the cable car above the sea to reach the island, and enjoyed the peaceful journey with the lovely view. We did the toboggan ride first (I highly recommend this, as they had quite a few stops due to technical issues), and then enjoyed all the roller coasters and rides. They aren’t very big rides, but they are still a lot of fun. The best plan of action in our opinion is to do all the dry rides first before your spend the rest of your day in the water park. Once it was time to venture over to that side, we stood there with our jaws dropping. We don’t have any water rides quite like this at home, so the Sheer size of these slides and tubes were intimidating. We had such a blast on the water rides, it made us feel like we were kids on Christmas.
  • img_0209

    Nha Trang Diving

    Scuba Diving: We chose to do our diving through Vietnam Dive Company, and they didn’t disappoint. We were fortunate enough to have a dive guide to ourselves, a really lovely young Australian woman. We explained to her that this was our first time diving after our course was completed, and she patiently went through all the signals and safety guidelines again. We did 2 stops for diving, the first stop being far better. The water was warm, the visibility was good, and the fish came out to play! Highly recommend this company, we gave them a great review on Tripadvisor.

  • img_0208

    Relaxing at the brewery.

    Louisiana Brewery: We spent half a day relaxing at the beach enjoying beers and cocktails at the Louisiana Brewery. we were given sun loungers to use, and the service was great. We took our books here and just truly switched off and enjoyed the moment. This was our first experience of a beachfront brewery, so we were soaking up the experience.

 

Overall, we were very happy with our trip to Nha Trang. I can’t say there were any bad points, and I would definitely make my way back here if I ever came this way again. The food was cheap, the drinks were cheaper and the level of fun was at an all time high. I already long for the evenings of night market walking and vibrant street life, but the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh city were calling our names. til next time Nha Trang (and I really hope there will be a next time).

img_0204

Me, enjoying the warm waters.

xoxo

 

 

Advertisements

Our “Squeezed for time” Ha Long Bay trip

During our 3 day trip to Hanoi, we booked a Ha Long Bay day trip through our hotel (Sans Souci IV hotel). We could have shopped around and booked a tour when we were in Hanoi, but because of our short time available, we didn’t want to risk not seeing the very place we came to Vietnam for. Our hotel booked us the day trip for $50 per person through Indochina Junk. This is how our day went:

We were picked up around 8am and were escorted to the large bus filled with tourists. We were given a bottle of water and a snack, and we started our long journey to Ha Long Bay. Our tour guide was a friendly, joke telling man. He may have had a few translation issues, but we understood his sense of humor. It is true what they say, the Vietnamese are very friendly. On our way there, we stopped at a restaurant/market/shop for refreshments and the usual tourist shopping (I generally avoid buying from these places, they are usually more expensive as they cater only for tourists, at exorbitant prices). After this stop we continued our journey onwards.

We eventually made it to Ha Long Bay after a 4-5 hour bus ride. The roads were fine, the driver was great, but it was still a very long trip to make, and due to time issues, we were going to repeat the journey in a couple of hours again. Our boat was called the Alova cruise. They sat us at tables on the boat with various other tourists, and we were given a spread of food to eat. I can’t really rave about the food, as the prawns and fish were ice cold. This wouldn’t have been as bad on a summer day, but it was cold and raining that day, which added to the unpleasantness. As they say, we learn lessons in life, this was my big tour lesson. From now on, I will only request vegetarian foods, as I don’t eat shellfish and that makes up a large portion of the food offerings.

img_0136

Take the kayak, and stay far behind everyone to enjoy the peace and beauty of the cliffs.

As we sat in the boat enjoying the journey, we were taught about how the legend refers to the cliffs as the sleeping dragon – all the cliffs making up the spine of the dragon. We all took our photos, and then we docked at a midwater jetty which had small boats and kayaks. everybody from our tour boat and surrounding boats chose to get in all the small boats operated by Vietnamese folk. John and I, and one other couple elected to rather get into the kayaks and risk getting wet for the sake of some space and peace. This was the best decision we made on our entire vacation. we paddled through to the section of the water enclosed by smooth, glassy water, and while we were all alone in this cove like area, we managed to spend a few minutes of absolute silence and peace.

img_0138

Inside on the the cliffs.

Eventually our kayak experience had to come to an end, and wet from rain, we climbed out and back into our junk boat. We then cruised onto the next stop, which was a cliff that we could walk through and view the stalactites and stalagmites. This was a very crowded stop on the tour, and we had to slowly explore the caves inside the cliffs. We didn’t really like how the caves were lit up in various colors, almost like a colorful light display. This created a fake illusion.

img_0137Once back on our junk boat, we started off again. We passed some cliffs that looked like chickens. The cliffs are apparently known as the fighting cocks, and you can see why by this picture inserted. You can also see how cold and dreary it was. We decided that we were happier that it was misty and grey, as it added to the eeriness of the day and the mystery of the dragon tale.

There were many boats in the water on this day trip, and although I feel like we have seen Ha Long Bay, I would definitely recommend staying a night or two on the junk boats, or even in town. The long 4-5 hour bus ride back to Hanoi isn’t an inviting thought. The seats were comfortable enough so we could take a nap, but it is still a long time to be seated for a day trip.

We got back to our hotel after 8pm, and we felt exhausted yet ecstatic that we had finally ticked Ha Long Bay off our bucket list. Would I recommend it for a visit? Hell yes! As mentioned before, just try not to rush it in one day, unless you really have no choice with timing.

img_1632

Look at the beauty and mystery.

 

 

 

 

Hello Hanoi!

I desperately need to catch up on my Vietnam blogging, so apologies for the newsfeed overload today!

img_0139

My first experience with the enormous amount of scooters on the road.

We took an evening flight into Hanoi, Vietnam. Neither of us had ever ventured here before, so the excitement was overflowing. Unfortunately the rain and darkness obstructed our first views from the car ride. We had arranged an airport transfer through our hotel so that we wouldn’t have to hassle with the usual negotiations and sneaky meter non compliance. After a generally peaceful drive, our driver pulled aside on a busy road, and pointed us to a tiny alleyway, not big enough for a car to fit through. We glanced skeptically around, and I was fully prepared for the eye rolling my boyfriend was about to give me for booking a seedy place. We were very pleasantly surprised when we came across our hotel, almost hidden in the alleyway. It was nicely lit up with a warm and cozy feeling.

The friendly man at reception helped us check in, and provided us with a map of the area so we could explore on foot. We were then taken up to our room with was spacious, clean and modern. The only issue we had was with the shower, but he quickly came back and fixed it for us. The hotel was called Sans Souci IV, and I would definitely recommend it.

We had a quick shower and set off to explore our dinner options. It was cold and rainy, so we didn’t spend too much time picking a restaurant – this was a mistake! We ended up at a double story Irish restaurant/pub which had bad pizza.unfortunately i don’t remember the name of the place, my subconscious was clearly trying to block it out! After dinner we went back to the hotel to relax before our long day trip to Ha Long bay the following day, which deserves a whole post to itself.(to follow)

img_1634

I bought this puffy jacket from one of the street vendors – I clearly didn’t prepare myself for Hanoi’s cold weather.(maybe it was just a bad patch of weather for the 3 days we were there)

When we arrived back from Ha Long bay, we were exhausted, hungry, and I was ready to explore a bit more of Hanoi by night. I’m sure John just smiled and went along, what a trooper! We found a great restaurant with served delicious Pha, and even better cashew nut chicken.

After dinner, we stopped and had a cup of Vietnamese coffee. I found the coffee to be very strong, but I really enjoyed how they served it with condensed milk instead of sugar and fresh milk. On our way back, we stopped at a a street vendor and bought a steamed bun. As John took a bite, we stopped to peer inside. to our surprise, we spotted a boiled egg with the pork. We must have turned as we were investigating the steamed bun, as we got lost getting back to the hotel. we retraced our steps and established that we had meddled with our orientation when dumbfounded with the egg scenario.

we spent our last full day in Hanoi walking around and getting to know the city. I stopped at a post office and sent my mom a postcard home. We walked around the lake with the building in the middle, and we tried some amazing chocolate and orange ice cream at a restaurant on the edge of the lake. It felt slightly reminiscent of a scene from the Sound of Music, with the beautiful backdrop to the Von Trapp house. We were fascinated with the tiny child plastic stools that many people sit on outside their pop up shops. I’m not sure if it is true, but a local told us it was so that the shop could quickly pack away the stools when the police came around (they weren’t allowed to be on the sidewalks). We never did verify that fact.

img_0140We stopped at a tiny restaurant right about 100m from our hotel for dinner. It was called Noodle & a roll. I had a plate of springrolls, some noodles, soup and a bottle for coke for the equivalent of just under $2. After dinner, we walked back to the lake and took endless photos. The rain had stopped, the air was calm, it was magnificent. Unfortunately my photo here was slightly slanted, but you get the idea.

We succumbed to the traditional tourist attraction – The water puppet show, and we were so glad we did! We had no idea what they were saying, but the music and the little puppet display was entertaining. they had fire breathing dragon puppets etc. After dinner, we went back to the hotel to pack for our flight to Nha Trang the following morning. I enjoyed Hanoi and I would definitely recommend it to people, but I definitely feel like we have seen it and have no need to go back. the one thing I noticed about t\where we stayed in Hanoi, was that at around midnight every night, somebody would go around with a megaphone selling rice or something along that line. It woke me up every time, but, as they say, when in Rome..