Vietnam 2012: Day 3

Part 1: Hoi An and My Son, Part 2: Hoi An - Da Nang - Hue, Part 3: Hue, Part 4: Train Ride + Saigon, Part 5: Saigon, Part 6: The End

Hoi An - Da Nang - Hue

Woke up in the wee hour (4.30AM local time) for a sun rise boat ride. Our 'escorts' were the boat driver who doesn't speak English at all and an assistant who is a sweet girl and speaks perfect English.

FYI, November is not the perfect time to visit Vietnam as it is their monsoon season. It was not raining that morning but the sky was very cloudy, therefore we missed the sun rise again. However, morning breeze on the vast river is indeed a bliss~

They brought us to a local fishing village, where there is a lot of fishing boats parked alongside the riverbank. The locals were marketing the products, mainly the small shrimps as it is the shrimp season, and according to the girl, they can earn quite an amount of money (actually I forgot that amount, so... LOL). Anyway, I noticed a really funny thing: most of the people doing the selling stuff is the women, while we passed by a kopitiam, and inside sat a whole bunch of male playing cards and drinking black coffee, literally! Some local cultures are indeed cute~

Another thing that I am impressed with Vietnam is that, their residential architecture skills are thumbs-up. We can hardly see two houses with same design, especially in the outskirt places. Although all the houses are long and narrow, except those in the village which is the typical square houses, the designs are all different and unique.

阿母 preparing our last day's garden breakfast
 It was a pleasure staying at her place. The night before, we hang out at the living room, Keong was talking with the son in English and use Google translator to learn few Vietnamese vocabulary, until one point, it frustrated the boy and he mildly screamed because of the pronunciation which was quite hilarious. The mom showed us the pictures of her daughter's wedding and some of the people who stayed at her place before. This is when you totally understand, language is not a barrier at all when it comes to communication, it's all about exchanging information and as long as everyone gets it, that's it :)

We checked out at 8AM, hugged 'mom' and took a group photo, and our driver picked us up for a trip down to Hue city, with some visit of places along the way. Since the driver doesn't speak English at all, the information of the places is all grabbed from the internet and self interpretation.

First stop: Marble Mountain, Da Nang. About 45 minutes drive from Hoi An town, we arrived at the foot of the mountain. There are two ways/admission fees to go up 'half way' of the hill, either by the escalator (30,000 VND) or by foot (15,000 VND). ...and I think you would have known what choice did I go for LOL. The climb on the stony stairs was steep but climbable, provided yo u climbed with your own pace and don't rush.

When we arrived at the first temple, SY was too exhausted to continue, so she waited for us at one of the rest place and we walked around like monkeys! There are a lot of caves and peaks for us to explore, and I was totally mind-blown when we reached one unnamed peak with the unlimited sea view 无敌海景!

Anyway, I have one advice if you are visiting this place without a guide:

Take picture of this map!
The map is frankly misleading, but it helped us a lot while asking ways from the tour guide. The route is actually linked from one cave to another, but apparently the map missed out a lot of shortcuts, confusing us as we needed to head back to the 'rest place' to meet up with SY while we were already at the other side of the mountain =.=.

This cave is definitely one of the must visit. It is called 玄空关* aka Huyen Khong Cave. The cave is quite creepy and freaky at first, as it is a cave within a cave, and you need to go through slightly wet cave and staircase to come to this cave. The carvings of the Buddha on top of the cave and the sunshine shining down from the cave-top are magnificent

*Oh yeah you can find a lot of Mandarin writings throughout Vietnam, although the locals can't read it

 Time given: 1 hour; Visiting time: 1 hour++

Second stop: Cham Museum, Da Nang.

The museum houses various types of stones and terracotta sculptural works of the Cham culture made between the 7th and the 15th centuries. This place, I would say, is not necessary if you have visited or about to visit MySon sanctuary, unless you have a guide to explain to you about the sculptures thingy or you don't mind eavesdrop on other group's tour guide.

Third Stop: Hai Van Pass!!!

One, it resembles the Grik-Titiwangsa-Jeli route which I take when going back Kelantan from North, but Puncak Titiwangsa's view, well, kinda bored already';
Two, the twisting, sudden curves, blind corners and uphill road definitely resembles a lot of uphill roads in Malaysia, eg. road to Wang Kelian, Gunung Jerai, Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands, stretch of Grik-Jeli etc etc;
Three, yet, this stop earns three exclamation marks because I am such a super duper huge ass fan of ocean and mountain and hills etc etc!

There is an alternative route to travel to Hue from Da Nang, which is the Hai Van tunnel, but since we were already there (and not sure when will be the next time), and Tino was told from the Internet that Hai Van Pass is such a beauty we definitely cannot miss (when we were at Marble Mountain overlooking the ocean view, she even said that "rumour has it, Hai Van Pass beats this!"), so she chose to travel to Hue by car, and through Hai Van Pass.

Going uphill
I couldn't stop wow-ing along the way as the view is absolutely astonishing! Too bad my phone camera responded a little slow and I was afraid the phone would slip off my hand when taking pictures with hand stretched to the outside of the window, I could only capture the images using my eyes~

The car stopped at the mid peak for sightseeing and visiting the washroom. The view wasn't as magnificent as I had expected because there is no high-stage or something for us to climb up to take that 无敌海景! Fortunately the mists came and gone quickly. If you don't mind carsickness (none of us suffered that though), this route is a must!!

Fourth stop: Lang Co Beach

This was a lunch break, the food was freakingly expensive and so-so, and it rained cats and dogs. Nothing much to talk about.

Destination: Hue

At last, at 4PM local time, we arrived at Jade Hotel. This is a highly x 12489372894 times recommended hotel if you visit Hue city.

After a long journey from DaNang, the moment we stepped foot into the hotel, the receptionist served us cold drinks and fruits, while the male staff helped carry our big fat luggage out from the car and into our room, the welcoming ambient is totally thumbs-up!

After clean up and rest, we head out the hotel for food hunt and walk-around. Asked the hotel staff about local food and places to go, and they provided us a long list of food name in Vietnamese and English. (The list is with Tino's, and I didn't jot down any, so...)

Our hotel is only few blocks away from streets full of restaurant, and a night market. The night market opens at 7PM, and as we were there early, we stopped by a tour agency to consult the tour thingy and some window shopping. There's when I fall in love with Ao Dai. Walked around the night market which is so small and nothing much to see (I bought hair bands), we took another road searching for food. When we were reading the menu and deciding whether to go in the cafe while the waitress was 'pursuing' us to go in until...

...the good looking male owner walked to us, and we surrendered! LOL...Tried some local food, and kept pestering the owner about tours and stuff. Since they have this sounds-like-freaking-cool motorbike tour, we signed up there and then! :)

Local food (that we've tried):
1) Banh Khoai Rice pancake
2) Banh Beo - something like small pieces of chu-cheong-fun, dip with white sauce
3) Banh Nam - like our local kuih, the one wrapped in banana leaves
To be cont...


Anonymous said…
Thanks for sharing your experience with vietnam its really awesome.
vietnam vacations
Theresa said…
Vietnam should hire u as their Tourism Ambassador. I really want to go there now.

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