Travel Blog Information March 2010

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30th March 2011

Tomorrow I fly out to Ho Chi Minh City and then fly to Bangkok and bus home to Jomtien after a month in Vietnam.

My trip this time included Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Nha Trang, Doc Let Beach, Thap Ba Ponagar, Bai Dai Beach, Long Son Pagoda and Da Lat.


27th March 2010

I have just returned from a two day trip to Da Lat. I had considered going there by motorbike but decided to take the minibus with Mai Linh. I am glad I did not go on a motorbike as the road was a very rough and rocky dirt road, with major road works in progress, for about 20 kilometres of the trip.

The journey took almost four hours (including a rest stop) and when I arrived at Da Lat there was a guy on a motorbike to pick me up and take me to the hotel. I stayed at the Thien An hotel which was good except for the traffic noise (my room was at the front which is the main road - Vietnamese drivers insist on using the horn endlessly) which went well into the night and started again around 4 am in the morning.

On the first day I went for a walk around town and also around Xuan Huong Lake although the lake was empty as it has been drained to rebuild the dam at the town end. The Da Lat Market well worth a visit as it is quite large and has a great variety of goods including all the usual goods plus a range of local vegetables and flowers. I also came across another large white Buddha on a high point just out of Da Lat. I re-visited the market at night and it really comes alive after dark.

On the second day I rented a motorbike and covered a lot of ground around Da Lat and beyond. The area around Da Lat is covered with a combination of coffee plantations, market gardens growing vegetables and plastic covered greenhouses that seem to concentrate on growing a variety of flowers. I also found the Da Lat Graveyard when I took a wrong turn.

The trip back to Nha Trang was interesting. Just as we left Da Lat it started to rain and continued to rain for the whole trip. There was  a woman in the back having a serious attack of travel sickness due to the winding mountain road. When we got to the rough dirt section it was very muddy and under water in places. We did quite a bit of sliding about and almost got bogged a couple of times (glad I did not tackle it on a motorbike) I doubt if it would be passable in very heavy rain in its current condition. I was happy to get back to my hotel as I had a bad headache from our driver blowing the horn for three and a half hours.

Xuan Huong Lake    Waterfront Restaurant    Dry Xuan Huong Lake Bed    Xuan Huong Lakefront Restaurant    Da Lat Town Centre    Big White Buddha Da Lat    Da Lat Graveyard


24th March 2010

Today has been the hottest and most humid in Nha Trang this trip, probably 33+ degrees and very humid. I had planned to walk to the Long Son Pagoda and have a look at The Big White Buddha on the hill. It is probably less than two kilometres from the hotel but I decided not to walk. I went there on a Cyclo (my first Cyclo ride) and it was much better than walking (I walked back).

The Long Son Pagoda is on the highest hill within Nha Trang and is fairly close to the Nha Trang Railway Station. I was quite impressed which surprised me as I have seen so many temples, Buddhas etc in South East Asia. Also it is free so that was another surprise.

Long Son Pagoda    Inside Long Son Pagoda    Shrine Bell House at Long Son Pagoda    Steps up to The Big White Buddha at Long Son    Long Son Dragon Guard

More Photographs of Long Son Pagoda, Nha Trang - Vietnam


21st March 2010

Rented a motorbike again today and went exploring. First I headed South and found the beach I was looking for the last time I went that way. The beach is called Bai Dai Beach (Long Beach - and it is about 20 kilometres South of Nha Trang) but the only access appears to be to the small sheltered bay at the Northern end of the beach. There are several restaurants right on the beach (Almost to the waters edge) and I think there are too many and they spoil what would be a great spot. The beach is quite nice and also sheltered from the prevailing winds. I think it is mainly a locals beach similar to Doc Let, although today it was almost empty even though it is Sunday.

After visiting Bai Dai Beach I went back to the main Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi highway and then headed West towards Da Lat (or Dalat) which is in the highlands (about 5,000 feet above sea level) and about 140 kilometres from Nha Trang. I decided not to try and go the whole way there today as I didn't really have time and also the road was very rough and potholed in many areas. If I rent a bike again while I am here I may do the trip to Da Lat.

On the way back to Nha Trang I got a puncture in the rear tyre, luckily I was fairly close to a town and after about 500 metres of walking the bike I found a place to fix the puncture. The guy did it straight away and it only cost 5,000 Dong (about 30 cents) which was amazing.

After a long day of riding I returned to the hotel and after a refreshing shower went up to the rooftop lounge for a Larue beer (or two).

Bai Dai Beach, Nha Trang, Vietnam    Fishing Boat Bai Dai Beach    Local in Basket Boat at Bai Dai Beach    Walking on Water    Ha Van Hotel Rooftop Lounge

Photographs of Bai Dai Beach (Long Beach), Nha Trang - Vietnam


12th March 2010

Walked to Thap Ba Ponagar (Cham Towers) today. The site is only a kilometre or so from central Nha Trang. The towers were built between the 7th and 12th century AD and were originally Hindu temples. They later became Buddhist places of worship. The temples sit on a rocky outcrop that was once where the Cai River met the ocean but is now a few hundred metres inland from the ocean.

Cham Towers Across The Cai River    Main Entrance to The Cham Towers    Pillars at The Entrance to Cham Towers    Main Temple at Thap Ba Ponagar

More Photographs of the Cham Towers (Thap Ba Ponagar), Nha Trang - Vietnam


9th March 2010

I took the day of today and rented a motorbike - I rode around town to start with and was amazed at how big Nha Trang is. I thought that it was a small fishing town mainly along a narrow coastal strip but it goes much further back from the coast than I thought. The population is apparently around 500,000 - I would have originally have guessed less than a quarter of that.

After battling with all the traffic for an hour or so I headed North to look for a beach called Doc Let that I had heard was very good. Doc Let beach is about 45 kilometres North of Nha Trang and I found it more or less by accident as there were no signs in English (and it is about ten kilometres off the main road). You have to pay to get in (15,000 Dong) and then pay to park (2,000 for a motorbike). The beach is quite good and very peaceful - it has fine soft sand and the water is warm and clean and the slope into the water is gentle so it is suitable for kids. There were not that many people there and most of them were Vietnamese. You can rent small thatched enclosures for 150,000 Dong which seems very expensive to me.

After my trip to Doc Let I went South to look for another beach but I did not find it.

All up I probably rode 200 kilometres and am a bit saddle sore as a lot of the road was fairly rough.

The hotel I am staying in is great Ha Van Hotel and I am paying less than $20 per night including an enormous breakfast.

Doc Let Beach Fishing Boats                                    Doc Let Beach Looking North

Fishing Boats Moored Off Doc Let Beach         Doc Let Beach Looking North   

Doc Let Beach Thatched Enclosures                                     Doc Let Beach Looking South

The Thatched Enclosures on Doc Let Beach          Doc Let Beach Looking South         


3rd March 2010

I am now in Nha Trang after a fifty minute flight (better than seven hours on the train) from Ho Chi Minh City with Vietnam Airlines.
I knew (but had forgotten) that the airport for Nha Trang is about 35 kilometres out of town. Luckily there is a shuttle bus into town for 40,000 Dong (Taxis are also available but cost 260,000 Dong). My hotel is the Ha Van Hotel where I stayed the last time I visited Nha Trang and is excellent value.


2nd March 2010

Arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last night after flying from Bangkok.

Today I went on a full day tour to the Mekong Delta South from Ho Chi Minh City. The tour was good and excellent value as it cost $39 and included hotel pick up and drop off, transport to the Mekong Delta, three separate boat trips, coconut candy factory tour, motorbike taxi transport to tropical fruit tasting and lunch.

Tomorrow I fly to Nha Trang where I will be for the next four weeks, working hard with the occasional trip to the beach.

Photographs of My Mekong Delta Day Trip

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