My Easy Rider trip from Da Lat to Mui Ne is one of the coolest things I’ve done on my trip so far. By the end, I was exhausted and sunburnt, but I saw so many wonderful things that I wouldn’t have seen had I not traveled this way. I saw everything from waterfalls to desert sand dunes; ocean beaches, secluded waterfalls, tribal villages; a mushroom farm, a coffee plantation, and I even got to pick my own fresh dragonfruit on a dragonfruit plantation. The view through the mountains was breathtaking, and my guide, Toe (I’m sure this isn’t the correct way to spell his name) taught me so many things about Vietnamese culture.
My bus for Da Lat left Quy Nhon around 8pm. I got picked up from my hostel in a van and taken to the bus station to wait for a bit before the bus arrived. When I got on the sleeper bus, it was mostly full, but I saw one empty seat about halfway back and took it. The driver came back and started yelling at me, I couldn’t tell why, but then he made me show him my ticket - apparently it was assigned seating (a first for me on a bus in Asia). He took me to the back of the bus, where my seat actually was… Oh my god. The back of the bus doesn’t have divided sleeper seats like the rest of the bus. Instead, it’s a big open area with 5 spaces, all the same level, for people to lay down in. Since there is no real divider between the seats, it’s kind of a free for all for space. There was one small sliver left for me, between an old man and a family of SIX that was squeezed into 3 seats.
My bus for Quy Nhon picked me up from my hostel around noon. The bus was actually a mini van and I was crammed in with about 10 Vietnamese people. The trip was supposed to take around 5 hours, getting me to Quy Nhon around dinnertime. I wasn’t sure where the bus would drop me off, so I was kind of just hoping for the best that it would be walking distance to my hostel. I had a rough idea of where my hostel was and pinpointed it on my offline map just to make sure I didn’t get lost.
Sorry I've been so bad about the blog! I'm safe and having a great time - enjoying myself enough that I haven't wanted to make time to update. I arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia about an hour ago and will stay here two nights before heading to Siem Reap. I'll try to do some updates … Continue reading I’m fine!
I’m currently sitting in a cafe in Hoi An having accidentally ordered a three course meal at 11am. It’s currently 12:16 and I’ve only made it through the first course: 3 spring rolls, 3 squid wontons, and a calamari salad. I have some fried fish in a banana leaf, steamed vegetables, and rice in front … Continue reading Hue and Hoi An, Vietnam (6/23/17 – 6/27/17)
Prior to arriving in Cat Ba, I'd never heard of Phong Nha before. When I got to my hostel, though, I looked at the list of options by bus and Phong Nha happened to be between Cat Ba and the next stop on my list, Hoi An. A quick Google image search gave me lots of gorgeous pictures of caves and jungle, so I decided to book the ticket. I would take a bus leaving at noon, first to a town called Ninh Binh, about 6 hours from Cat Ba, and then overnight to Phong Nha, arriving around 4am. Everyone I met in Cat Ba that had been to Phong Nha recommended the same hostel: Easy Tiger. It wasn't on the usual booking websites I used, so I had to email them to make my reservation, but they luckily had 3 nights available on the short notice I gave them.
Cat Ba Island wasn’t on my original itinerary for Vietnam, but seeing the world famous Ha Long Bay has been on my bucket list for a long time. I originally planned to skip Cat Ba because it was so far out of the way on my north-to-south plan and I had thought I’d be wanting to spend a week in each place on my itinerary. So far on my trip, I’ve found 2-3 nights per place to be the perfect amount of time, so I decided to wing it and see where I can get cheap bus tickets to and just make my way down. As long as I’m in Siem Reap, Cambodia by July 13, everything is golden.
My flight from Luang Prabang was to leave Laos at around 5pm and arrive in Vietnam a little after 6pm. I was nervous from the start, because the process for getting a visa for Vietnam is extremely confusing and there’s no official information online. Before I left home, I applied and paid for an “approval letter” that is basically just a document from the Vietnamese government saying I had permission to enter the country on a tourism basis, but I would still need to get a visa before entering. From my understanding, this meant that I could get a visa on arrival using the letter, but everyone else I’d met so far on my trip that was planning to go to Vietnam had been going to the embassy and paying something around $60 to get the visa beforehand.
I fell in love with Laos and definitely ended up staying longer than planned (3 nights longer, to be exact). I had a great time exploring with Dana, and then Simon ended up flying to Luang Prabang to spend time with me while Alex and Cecile took the slow boat. Luang Prabang itself is a very small city, and while there were definitely a lot of backpackers, it’s not yet as overrun with tourism as the places I visited in Thailand. The culture is still very much traditional and beautiful nature surrounding the city is relatively untouched.
Having my booked my trip to Laos through the lady on the front desk at my hostel, I was to catch a bus at 9am, which would take me to a town on the Thailand/Laos border (called Chiang Khong) for the night with a stop at the famous White Temple in Chiang Rai along the way. The next morning, I would cross the border and get my visa for Laos before boarding a slow boat to a town called Pakbeng for the night (an 8 hour journey). On the third day, I would get back on the slow boat for another 8 hours for the rest of the trip to Luang Prabang, my final destination.