I took what was supposedly supposed to be a 12 hour night bus from Hoi An to Dalat. It in fact turned out to be a ten hour night bus with a stopover in Nha Trang (also known as Little Russia… direct flight from Moscow apparently) for FOUR hours, from 4am to 8am. Eventually however, I did make it to Da Lat with an awful sore throat and lost voice, meaning that I was hauled up as an invalid for the rest of the day and night.
The next day, when I had partially recovered and ignored the scooter renter’s comments about how it would be safer if I had a boyfriend who was driving (not the first sexist comment in my solo travels, admittedly), I took my scooter to Dalanta Waterfalls about 4km. A strange and very touristy place, it was necessary for me to take a mini “rollercoaster” down a hill to see the falls. This “rollercoaster” consisted of 1-2 person carts which could be accelerated and braked at your will, and seemed to rely mostly on gravity to get to the falls.
After that and a quick look at the suitably picturesque lake, I boarded yet another night bus to Ho Chi Minh City (otherwise known as Saigon).
My bad luck with night buses continued and the service miraculously arrived 2 hours earlier than I was quoted – ordinarily a good situation, expect this was 4am on a Saturday morning and I had nowhere to stay. I eventually found a hostel to stay in and got some suitable sleep.
Ho Chi Minh City is a chaotic, but strangely likable city. It feels as though I might die or catch a disease every time, I walk out into the street, but once I got over this slightly rational feeling, I quite enjoyed my stay.
A trip to the War Remnants Museum is a must, but visitors should perhaps be warned a little more thoroughly than I was about the distressing content on display. Indeed, I think that it is right that people like me are able to understand the atrocities and true horrors that occurred in the Vietnam war, but some pictures were extremely harrowing and saddening.
Other landmarks include the Reunification Palace, the post office (where I was pleased to satisfy my geeky side and get some stamps), and also various pagodas and the city museum.
Ho Chi Minh is also situated in a good place for some interesting tours, including the Cu Chi tunnels and Mekong delta.
I have to say that, although it was slightly far at 2 hours travelling time, I enjoyed Cu Chi a lot, and found the whole place very interesting. You have a chance to go down into one of the wartime tunnels yourself and crawl through – a claustrophobic, but also interesting experience. I managed to get to 100m, and was very dusty and sweaty as a result!
The Mekong delta tour was a more sober affair, but still interesting in itself. I enjoyed taking the row boats and sampling coconut candy. I only spent one day there, and it is advisable to spend more if you can – to visit the floating markets and get a feel for the place.
Overall, Ho Chi Minh City has been a fascinating place to visit and topped off my time in Vietnam nicely. On to Cambodia next, this time on a day bus…