Vietnam: Nha Trang to Da Nhang, coastal gems
POSTED BY Thamar IN Adventures, Vietnam @ January 5, 2015 - 2:34 pm

July 1st

This morning we left the Perfume Grass Inn but not before V gave us some towns and accommodation to look out for along the way. The guys here have been so friendly and helpful, it's been a great 5 days in Nha Trang.

It was a short way down the road for one last coffee and goodbye and our tires were rolling on the tar again. Our plan is to go up the coast as far as Da Nhang, about 500km away. We want to make the most of our time in Vietnam and didn't want to get stuck with our visas running out so we will catch a train back to Saigon and leave for Cambodia before the 22nd of July.

We traveled 86km along a flat, busy coastal road. It rain a far bit around midday where we took refuge in a small town eatery. We had a plate of... well to be honest it looked like bits of leftovers but it was quite tasty. A short hop later in the cooler weather and we arrived in Dai Lanh, a very quaint, small fishing village.

For dinner we walked the street (only one, the others were foot paths) and found a place that was serving "shrimps" and rice. We didn't have any great expectations about the food, but we were certainly surprised and impressed when 2 large plates arrived each with a green salad, a healthy portion of rice and 2 huge "shrimps", they were more like Langoustines. It was a colourful dish and very tasty. It was an awesome dinner in a village where the tour busses and Lonely Planet clearly don't stop or know about... Sssh! Our secret.

 

July 4th

The following day was hot as we climbed out from the fishing village. We only cycled a short distance today but it felt like a big effort to get to Tuy Hoa. The coastline has been spectacular but the traffic is still hectic. Tuy Hoa reminds us a lot of some of the Chinese towns, where they seem to build a whole city but few people are actually living in it. A bit surreal and bizarre and to add to the strangeness, there were a few Russians walking around the quite streets. It’s just my perception of Russians that made it seem weird.

Another thing to add to the strangeness was that most of these hotels were charging a much higher rate than we've seen in other towns. It took a bit longer to find somewhere to stay that fitted our budget. Dinner spots were also outrageously expensive and we only saw Russians out and about, so I'm wondering if they have package deals to this town and charge specifically for the Russian market. So it was road side dinning for us, but that's where we've found some gems.

With a long stretch ahead us today we felt stronger and made the 97km distance to the town of Quynhon. We were still hugging the coastline with thick forest and vegetation around, and yes a good measure of traffic. After 1 final uphill it was a gentle ride into Quynhon. It's a fair size city with pricy hotels that capitalize the coast. Our dinner stop was at a backpackers, which I thought seemed a little strange in this town, anyway the meals were great and the next morning we were back for breakfast. We also spoke to the owner and she helped us to book our train tickets from Da Nhang back to Saigon, apparently it gets very busy so booking in advance is advisable.

It was a late start after that bit of admin as we planned to cycle to Bong Son (91km away). It was a good start but later in the day we ran into a storm. We pushed on for a while through the downpour but when the lighting got too close we took refuge in a road side shack/kiosk. It was an interesting 45min as we sipped some coffee and watched the rain while providing entertainment for the proprietors. The one guy that was there, weather he was a relative or not of the owners, seemed to be quite drunk. He took in interest in us and proceeded to pour us tea and talk to us at great lengths, all in Vietnamese, so we had no idea what he was saying. We had a good chuckle.

It was still raining when we set out again, but not a hard. It was now starting to get dark and our planned destination was still a long way off. As we crested a rise we saw a small truck stop and a "hotel" across the road. This would have to be our stop for the night. The room was dire with a mix of bugs and spiders, one lone flickering light bulb and dodgy looking roof. We were soaked and all our panniers were wet, so we attempted to string up some of our essential gear in order for it to dry.

When the rain let up a little, we walked across the road to the truck stop for dinner. We weren't expecting much and with no menu, the waiter took us into the kitchen and asked us to point to what we wanted to eat. It’s a good thing we are not freaked out by our once live food cause there was a point on our tour of the meal options where she was waving a whole chicken (head, neck and feet still attached) in our faces. The neck and head was flopping from side to side as she attempted to describe how they would prepare it. Running out options we decided to eat Clucky (the chicken).

 

July 9th

It was an early start as we left the room, fortunately we were quite tired so we had no problem sleeping in those conditions. We put our heads down and cycled to the town we were planning to reach yesterday and stopped there for some breakfast. We came across a lady who was making crispy shrimp pancakes. She whipped up a spread for us and began explaining how we should make up the pancake since everything was separate. We had rice paper, which we had to dip in a bowl of water, some salad stuff, the shrimp pancakes and some peanut sauce. It landed up being some kind of fresh spring roll and it was a great! The lady who made the food was so enthusiastic in her explanations and along with that, well chuffed that we had stopped by her shop.

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As the afternoon progressed we cycled through another storm and downpour but we made it to our destination for the day before the sun went down. I was feeling bushed because we had just cycled 115km for the day and I had a runny tummy since the day before. We found a hotel on the edge of town and crashed after a well-deserved shower.

I was still stuffed the next morning, feeling drained, but we were determined to make the stretch to Hoi An in one day. We set off gingerly at 8:30am, Tham was clearly stronger than me today, something that she will remind me of for many years to come I'm sure. Lots of drink stops were in order on this hot humid day. The road was flat as we took the turn off to Hoi An which would be another 10km from the main road. My clock read 118km for the day and we were both happy to see the quaint fishing village where we would be staying for the next few days.

Hoi An is a fishing village which has a long history, which is now filled with hotels, tailors, cloths shops and restaurants. That evening we made our way down one of the main roads which was well lit. When we got to the harbor or water front we were greeted with may colourful lanterns, small eateries and bustling streets full of foreigners. There are also lots of old buildings which have great character. It's a busy little town but has a nice vibe.

On one of the days we cycled about 5km down to the beach and lay about having the odd swim. There was a rustic restaurant on the edge of the beach sand where we ate lunch and took shelter from the massive downpour.

We've been down to the "water front" every evening and it’s been lovely with the street sellers, lanterns and small quirky buildings. We've both been sleeping well and late, which I think is a good thing. Back at the beach relaxing and afternoon beach run. We decided to buy some cloths from one of the many shops. The one we went into had winter jackets which might sound a little odd being in the middle of summer and in Vietnam, but it seems they get tourists from all over the world. We both found jackets and the lady helping us took our measurements and said they will tailor make our jackets and we could pick them up the next day. The only other issue with buying more cloths/stuff is that we are still cycling and would have to carry these jackets for another month.

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July 12th

On the morning of the 11th we left Hoi An for Da Nhang. It was 40km up the coast to this large city. We are catching a train from here back to Saigon, so that's the reason we came here. It’s a fairly expensive city which is built up along the river which runs through it. The beach is probably 3km from where we are staying, but the train station is just up the road. Which works out well because we dropped our bikes off yesterday, they will be put on another train and arrive ahead of us.

Today and the next day was long and drawn out. Our train only left at 10pm that evening and arrived at 4pm the next day in Saigon. We had brought a few supplies for the train and manage to secure the 2 bottom bunks. Breakfast was ice coffee and biscuits and for lunch I ate from the cart, which was dry rice and pork bits.

On our arrival back in Ho Chi Minh City(Saigon), I picked up our bikes (no problem, not like India), got our bearings and made the short 1km trip back to Pham Gou Lou rd. We went back to the place we first stayed in when we arrived in Vietnam. The lady there was so happy to see us, it was a great welcome back.

The next few days was spent wandering the streets and eating the local food which was fantastic. And on the 15th of July we left Saigon for Cambodia!