I got a night bus down from Hanoi and was meant to stop at Phong Nha, but overslept on the bus and so ended up in Hue. But it wasn’t all that bad. A day in Hue sampling the sights of the Citadel, but the place wasn’t all too special.
What was very enjoyable was the trip down the coast from Hue to Hoi An. A Top Gear special goes along this road and the views are spectacular. Beautiful oceans, fishing villages, all very beautiful. I would definitely recommend taking a motorbike this way, whether by yourself or with a driver. I also made a stop and swim in Elephant Springs and the crazily overcrowded Marble Mountain. The latter was a bit strange and too full of coloured artificial lights.
In any case, I made it to Hoi An, which comfortably tops the list as my favourite place so far. With it’s laterned lined streets and beautifully lit river, the place felt like I had been dropped into a mystic fairytale. There is a nightmarket, street food and plenty of good bars to enjoy yourself in.
Hoi An was also the first place I tried a scooter on my own. I, like may others, have heard horror stories involving tourists and scooters, but Hoi An, though slightly busy, was a good place to learn. Within 15 mins I was off on my own around the town. That very day I made the 40km ride to My Son, a small temple complex nearby. It turns out the fact that nobody follows road rules can work to your advantage; everyone is expecting you to fuck up, so it doesn’t matter if you end up on the wrong side of the road…
But anyway, I made it there, and then the following day I made a similarly long drive to Ba Na Hills (on a hangover I might add).
Now Ba Na Hills is not the best place to go for a backpacker on a budget, and indeed the whole complex was not a particularly attractive one for my tastes. But I went here specifically to see the Golden Bridge, or as I more affectionately called it the “Bridge with Hands” to make my friends at home jealous. It is spectacular, and like something out of Lord of the Rings, but it took a hell of a lot of energy and money to get there.
Anyway, after hanging out on the beach, browsing cloth shops (Hoi An is a major place to get relatively cheap tailored clothing – if you were in need of a suit), being torrentially rained on, getting a token bracelet at the Night Market and getting too drunk out with other people from the hostel, I boarded what turned out to be a horrendous night bus to Da Lat. More on that later…