World Tourer - Travel Information - December 2012 to January 2013


World Travel Blog - December 2012 to January 2013

26th January 2013

My Honda Wave Motorbike has behaved so well since I bought it that I decided to reward it with a trip out of town. The manager of a local hotel asked me if I had visited Hon Ba (I had not even heard of it - thinking Hon meant island - it apparently means hill or mountain as well). He told me it was a high mountain not far from Nha Trang and always cold like Dalat - I showed him my map and he pointed it out to me - it's more than 1500 metres high (5,000 feet) and only about 50 kilometres from Nha Trang.

I checked the weather forecast for today and it said mostly clear (information I found on the internet said Hon Ba was almost always covered with cloud) so I left home around 7 am and headed South. It was a good thing I had an idea where the turn off was as I did not see any sign, although once on the correct road there were clear signs all the way. The road was a bit rough with many area of loose gravel (not good on a motorbike). Along the way I stopped a couple of times to take photos and by the time I got near the top my bike started to struggle - I think it was a combination of the steep climb and the thin air.

At the top I was greeted by a couple of barking dogs and a guy ready to sell me a ticket (it costs 30,000 Dong to enter the reserve at the top). The main attraction, other than the view, is the house of Dr. Yersin who set up a centre here to grow quinquina in an attempt to create a vaccine for bubonic plague (he failed). The house was built in 1903 and is still in good order.

It was not as cold at the top as I had expected - it was just above 14C - and quite pleasant as the day was sunny and without any wind. After a good look around taking photos I had a cup of coffee in the restaurant and drove back home - a good day out.

Dau River    Yersin's House    Road to Hon Ba    Honda Wave on Hon Ba - Vietnam
         Dau River                     Dr Yersin's House            The Road to Hon Ba         Honda Wave on Hon Ba

Hon Ba Photo Gallery 

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23rd January 2013

Today Harry (the manager of the apartments) took me to the local traffic office to apply for my Vietnamese car licence (he had previously taken my Australian drivers licence and had it translated into Vietnamese). I was surprised how quick and easy it was - we spent no more than five minutes in the place. I now have to return on 30th January to pick up the licence. Once I have my Vietnamese car licence I can apply for a motorbike licence (I will have to take a driving test) and become a legal motorbike rider.

Cheaper than Thailand - Earlier today I went to my local market, Cho Vinh Hai to buy some tomatoes and bananas - the tomatoes cost 35 cents (in Thailand would have been about $3) and a bunch of bananas (14) cost 50 cents (in Thailand about $2.50)

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22nd January 2013

Alan, a friend of mine from Jomtien, has come for a visit to Vietnam (his first) and is in Nha Trang at the moment. He arrived on  Monday morning on the overnight train from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh). That evening we went out and explored the restaurants and bars.

Today I got adventurous and gave him a quick tour of Nha Trang on the back of my motorbike (I think he has travel insurance). I started by taking him out to the Five Continent's House Apartments where I live, followed by a visit to Dam Market (the main and largest market in Nha Trang) where he bought a pair of sunglasses and a couple of T shirts. We then went to Long Son Pagoda and climbed to the top for the view of Nha Trang and to see the large white Buddha statue. After Long Son Pagoda we stopped at the railway station so that Alan could check train times for his return to Ho Chi Minh City. I then took him to the harbour area of Nha Trang where the cable car to Vinepearl starts. We were exhausted after this high speed tour and went to the beach in front of Louisiane Brewhouse and had a BBQ lobster and prawns plus a few beers (not from Louisiane but from the beach vendors - $5 each for lobster and $1 per beer).

Big White Buddha    Reclining Buddha    Louisiane Beach Area

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18th January 2013

Today it rained lightly for an hour or so and I realised that it is the first time I have struck rain in Nha Trang (this is my fifth or sixth visit). I checked the weather forecast and there is a chance of rain over the next few days. The time that I will be in Nha Trang (January, February and March) are the coolest and driest months of the year with rain on five or six days per month and average maximium temperatures below 30C.

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16th January 2013

This morning I went out with Dave, Loan and Harry (the manager of Five Continent's) to rent a motorcycle. The place we went to wanted 2 million Dong per month (around $100) and after some haggling this came down to 1.7 million per month. We decided that was too expensive and went to see about buying a second hand bike.

After visiting two places I found one that looked like a good deal to me so after a trial ride that showed it worked OK I bought it. The owner wanted 4.5 million Dong, I offered 4 million, he then came down to 4.2 million Dong (around $200) that I agreed to as long as he added a second mirror, which he did. So for a price not much more than two months rental I now own a motorbike - a Honda Wave 110cc.

Honda Wave 110cc

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15th January 2013

Today I cycled into Nha Trang and back and I am now quite tired (I have not cycled anywhere for years). I am looking forward to getting a motorbike. I am planning to rent a motorbike for a week whilst I decide if I will buy one or just keep renting.

On the way back from Nha Trang I stopped at Cho Vinh Hai (the local market) to buy some vegetables - I got a whole cauliflower, a quarter of a pumpkin, a large carrot, an onion, a handfull of beans and a bunch of spring onions - all up cost 32,000 Dong ($1.60).

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13th January 2013

The location of my apartment is great - The Five Continent's House Apartments are about five kilometres North of Nha Trang, Vietnam in a semi rural area. They are set amongst market gardens, rice growers etc. surrounded by mountains and it is very quiet and relaxing. The day after I arrived I went for a long walk around the local area and found the locals to be extremely friendly (I had at least fifty people say hello to me).

There is a small shop directly in front of the apartments where they sell all the "Day to Day" essentials (Beer and water) - I bought a crate of twenty bottles of Saigon Red beer for 140,000 Dong (about $7).

I have made several trips to the local market (Cho Vinh Hai - No tourists here) where you can buy most things. I have also been to Nha Trang Center to get the few things that I could not find at the market.

I was at the beach a couple of days ago and it was the most crowded I have ever seen (this is the "High Season" for tourists) but it is a big beach and there is always plenty of space.

Last night I went into Nha Trang and was surprised at how busy it was - When I was here last October and it was almost deserted.

Swimming Pool            Bedroom View            Dining Room View

                 Swimming Pool                    View From My Bedroom          View From My Dining Room        

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18th December 2012

There is now only three weeks until I move to Vietnam (Vietnam Photo Gallery) after four years living in Thailand (Thailand Photo Gallery) - during my time here I have travelled all over Thailand, most of Cambodia (Cambodia Photo Gallery), Laos (
Laos Photo Gallery) and Vietnam (Vietnam Photo Gallery). I have also been to China (China Photo Gallery), Manilla and Boracay in The Philippines (Philippines Photo Gallery), Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Photo Gallery), Borneo (Borneo Photo Gallery), Bali (Bali Photo Gallery), Australia (Australia Photo Gallery), Penang, Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur Photo Gallery) and Myanmar (Burma). I have enjoyed my time in Thailand but I am looking forward to a change.

I have just got a new passport (British) as the old one was full - the process to do this from Thailand is now harder than before. The local British Consular office in Jomtien has been closed and the British Embassy in Bangkok no longer handles passports. I had to post my old passport to the British Embassy in Hong Kong who then sent it on to the UK. My new passport came by courier from the UK (after four weeks) and I had to wait another week for the original to be returned from Hong Kong.

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