The Travelling Series
At the end of my previous post, I briefly talked about how I was embarking upon a 13 hour train journey to Hue (which is halfway down the east coast of Vietnam).
At the time, there was no need to complain as I was sat comfortably staring out of the window at the beautiful Vietnamese countryside. However, when the sun went down and darkness hit, out came the mice and the cockroaches. I cannot tell you the pure terror I felt when I saw the shadow of a small creature shoot past my bag on the floor - and then when I realised what it actually was I just couldn't wait to get off the train!
I'd heard from a couple of friends who had already been there that Hue was worth stopping off at on the quest to Hoi An.
After being in the hustle and bustle of the capital city for so long, Hue was quite a refreshing change as there were less people, less traffic and less going on. However, this also meant that there was less of a vibe. At times and at certain places during the day it actually felt like a ghost town. This meant that companies and salesmen approached us even more than they did in Hanoi (and, dare I say it, Bangkok). But in Hue, because they are so desperate for business, they don't leave you alone or take no for an answer - which I didn't like. You can only be so polite for so long before you have to tell them where to go. It's brutal but it's the only way they will stop following and harassing you! Some of them are seriously borderline stalkers.
Other than seeing the Citadel, the place where the Royals used to live, there isn't much to do around Hue. There's a couple of cool restaurants and bars - including DMZ where you can sign the wall and play Jenga - but other than that, it's slim pickings! We got a really nice hotel on a deal so I think we actually ended up spending more time inside there than outside. (Sad I know!)
I was happy to be moving onto Hoi An via a half day bus tour where we got to go over the Hai Van Pass. This road is famous for it's views of mountains and beaches and I have to say - it didn't disappoint! I got some stunning photos before we cut through Da Nang and got to Hoi An itself.
Now what can I say about Hoi An, apart from it's absolutely wonderful. It's a town built on the river and made up of little streets and back alleys. It's so quaint and got a really nice feel to it - it reminded us of a holiday resort you might find in Spain or the Balearics.
There are tons of cute independent shops, including hundreds of custom made tailors. It's a well known thing to backpackers travelling around Vietnam that the best (and cheapest) place to get clothes made is Hoi An.
Kane and I went to a highly rated shop on Trip Advisor called Khoi Tailors to get me a cotton dress made that I could wear through the day then dress up with accessories to take it through to night. He ended up walking out a day later with a full cashmere suit. We couldn't believe the quality that they can give you in a short amount of time for the money you are paying - so it's well worth it!
We also went to the beach, which is truly gorgeous; there's white sand that stretches out at each side as far as the eye can see - and then beautiful turquoise water that sparkles in the sun.
The only negative I have is just how hot and humid it was. The temperature made it impossible to walk around outside for longer than 10 minutes. Sunbathing was also a no no unless you wanted to shower in your own sweat.
The night times were cooler though - it even rained once - and there were plenty of bars, restaurants and cafés that you could explore once the sun had retired for the day.
The bridge over the river has lights and lanterns on it that illuminates it at night, which made the town even prettier than it was during the day.
It was honestly an amazing three nights in a perfect place and in hindsight I wish we'd have stayed there for longer. It'd definitely be a good holiday destination for the future!
We thought we'd spend a little time in Da Nang as it looked nice when we initially drove through it to get to Hoi An. However, on closer inspection, there's not a lot to do. We thought we could just have a series of beach days but it was too hot to sit out in the sun and you couldn't even swim in the sea to cool down as the waves were too strong.
It's also very expensive compared to Hoi An because it's classed as a major city. The only good thing about Da Nang was that I discovered my love for Highlands Coffee.
This is a Vietnamese coffee shop chain that has a similar feel to Starbucks or Costa Coffee - and they do a special type of frapuccino called the 'Jelly Freeze' which is pretty awesome! You could also get the most amazing tuna panini for less than a quid that makes you feel like you're winning at life.
When it was time to fly to Singapore via Ho Chi Minh City, a sense of relief that we were leaving Da Nang washed over me. But then I realised that it would also mean we were leaving Vietnam and that thought made me feel incredibly sad.
Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited and it's a shame we couldn't spend longer there. I would have especially liked to have done Sapa in the North and then Ho Chi Minh City on the way out, but it wasn't meant to be! It's a good excuse to go back though!
We ran into a little trouble when we got to the airport and realised that the costs of our flights hadn't included check-in baggage, so we had to pay for it then and there at a higher expense. Moral of the story: if you're booking through Skyscanner, who use another third party agency to book your flights, then make sure the reason that they're advertising the cheapest flights isn't because they don't allow you to have check-in baggage unless you pay an add-on fee. I wasn't going to name the agency but people should be aware of this for future reference - Bravofly are sneaky you-know-whats!
Anyway, other than that, we got to Singapore without a hitch.
More on the fabulous Singapore later...