20.08.2015 - 20.08.2015
Da Nang wasn't originally on my list of places to visit, but thanks to Henry in Hanoi Brothers, I found myself there. After arriving by sleeper train, I stepped out of the station to be met by lots of people selling rides. I was with a guy I met as I got off the train and everyone assumed we were travelling to the same place which helped with negotiation. Once they realised it was just me, they had to drop the price quoted for two, for a one person price. It worked well and I ended up paying what I'd been told to expect to pay.
The guy led me to a motorbike, not a car but I'm getting used to this now, so no problem. On the way he told me he was a tour guide and about the tours we could do together. He was friendly enough, just a bit familiar for me. He showed me his recommendation book and directed me to an Entry from clients who were from South Wales. Imagine my surprise, when I read they were from Bridgend! The guys name was familiar to me although I can't recall why, Robert Shillabear and his girlfriend Paula. Once the guy realised the connection he thought I was a sure thing for a trip and talked non stop about it. after we arrived at my hostel he suggested a coffee and went to get back on his bike, I agreed to coffee but insisted on it being a couple of doors up to my hostel so I could stay independent. He was seriously starting to get on my nerves. As you know I'm not the most tolerant of people, especially when he quoted me 75 USD for a day trip! He quickly came down to 60 USD and I said I'd think about it, by this time, he had really fried my brain. He went in a bit of a strop, without paying for his drink and I was relieved to see him go.
The best thing that came out of that encounter was discovering O Delices the French restaurant/coffee shop that I had a brilliant time in. I went there several times, and loved the food, coffee and atmosphere. The staff are the friendliest you will meet and Ladies night on Wednesday was the highlight of my stay in Da Nang. I plan to go back on Sunday, and I wasn't even due to be in Da Nang then!
I was also really fortunate in my choice of hostel. It's another new one with lovely staff. Tung who met me speaks excellent English, but some of the others have limited English which was a little difficult on times. That said, nothing was too much problem and we overcome any language barriers with the help of google translate. The kindness shown to me again in this hostel was amazing. Tung didn't like the idea of me travelling without a phone so insisted I had one of his so I could call him if I needed to. So nice. I mentioned I'd been thinking about a trip to BA Na hills but hadn't wanted to go with the train station man because of the price quoted. Tung arranged for a friend to take me there and back for around 17 USD - bit less than the 60 I'd been quoted! It was amazing going there and back on a motorbike with the sun beating down and the wind providing a lovely cooling breeze. I was almost sorry when I arrived and it was time to get off.
BA Na Hills was a strange place. It's a huge resort so high up, it's in the clouds. You access it via the longest chair lift in Aisia (I think) and everything is centered around a French town which was obviously built by the French when they were here. It was a bit odd being in Vietnam but surrounded by French signs etc, I did enjoy my lemon tart at the top mind. One thing that annoyed me was the constant charging for everything. Entry into the resort, for the cable car, for the funicular, for the gardens and so it continued! I know places have to make money, but. Think it was a bit out of balance especially as their target market is families. Lots for children to do including a fun fair and toboggan run but again, all chargeable.
All in all, I spent a good couple of hours there but was more than happy to get back on the bike and head back. The journey back wasn't without its own adventure as a cow decided to hit us. Luckily enough I was in the hands of a skilled driver and he managed a full on swerve to avoid serious incident. We both yelled out a few expletives though, as you can imagine! First stop on return was o Delices for crepes and coffee to die for. Home, showered and back out. Firstly with one of the staff from the hostel who took me on her bike to find a ATM - thanks for that. Afterwards back for more food and ladies night! I can't mention ladies night without mentioning the barking mad, bonkers couple I spent most of the evening with, Phu an Phillip. They are just the nicest couple you could meet and Phu does a grand job of looking after Phillip! The owners, staff and all the people drinking there were such a good crowd that I could easily have carried on with them but I resisted and went home about 11:30 just as they were locking the front gates at my hostel, phew! Philippe told me the next morning that they had continued till gone one, so I think I made a wise decision!
Suffice to say the next morning I didn't feel quite as chirpy as usual, but over breakfast I met another tour guide who was trying to get me to do a two day trip with him at 40 Usd a day. He was nice enough, but a bit rough around the edges. I agreed for him to take me to marble mountain on the way to taking me to Hoi An and said I'd think about the trip. It turned out to be a good call as there was no way I could have spent two days with him. I just wasn't comfortable with him. He was too loud for me and very much in my body space. On the bike was the worst as he sat too far back in the seat against me - yuck. I was glad to get off at the Homestay and obviously won't be booking a trip with him
First glimpse of honestly and Hoi An are wow! I'll let you know if it follows through, once I've been out exploring.
P.s. Should have said, the beach in DaNang is the longest and emptiest I've ever seen until around 4:30 when it fills up with locals, out swimming and playing beach sports and games. A really nice atmosphere which I enjoyed for a few hours on my first night.