It’s been awhile since I posted part 1 of my Vietnam Travels series. I recommend you follow the link back to start afresh:
From Ho Chi Minh City, we moved northward to Hoi An stopping there a few days to enjoy the local shopping (the markets in Hoi An are famous for prices and made-to-order clothes and shoes), nightlife, and a river cruise. But it was too hot to shop, especially for trying on outfits. I ordered a pair of sandals and then we found a spot in the shade to wait for our air-conditioned bus.
It was so hot that a dip in the resort’s inviting swimming pool was more like taking a hot bath. The pool bar was a bonus and we enjoyed cocktail’s as we floated around in the warm water. The river cruise took us past fishing trawlers, smaller rowboats and large fishing nets grouped along the river side. We stopped to explore a small village and learnt about some of the crops the people grow and the methods they employ to get their product to market and earn some money. It’s a hard life! Many of the farmers cannot afford to industrialise and so use labour-intensive methods for every stage of the farming process.
While in the area, we visited the brightly coloured, Cao Dai temple, and stopped at Non Nuoc Beach (China Beach) in Denang to dip our toes in the ocean. The beach was deserted and we soon learned why as we stepped out onto the sand and quickly put our shoes and sandals back on. We would never have made it to the waters edge without seriously burning our feet otherwise!
Also at Denang, we visited the Troglodyte temple. This required 200 steps almost straight up and then the same 200 back down – neither direction was easy, but I made it! This temple was carved out of the mountain and all equipment had to be carried up by hand. I had enough trouble just getting myself up. As with everything that requires a bit of effort, it was worth it for both the spectacular view over De Nang and the surrounding area, and the temple itself.
Our next overnight was in Hue. There’s a quick way (through a tunnel) and a slow way (mountain pass). Guess which one has the better views? The drive was hair-raising as our coach wound it’s way up the narrow, winding road over the mountain while motorbikes darted in, out and around. We were sure that some would be pushed off the road and over the railing to the ocean below, but we (and they) made it over without incident. At the top, we stopped for a few minutes to take photos of the spectacular views and were warned by our tour guide to avoid the market stall owners and hawkers at all costs. We felt a little guilty, but had to admit, they pounced on us like vultures as soon as we stepped off the bus so we avoided eye-contact as much as possible.
Hue is another bustling city and home to the Imperial Enclosure, once the Emporer’s residence and home to temples, palaces, and government buildings. Most of it was destroyed during the French and American wars and is now being slowly restored. The restoration has already taken 30 years and could take that many more; parts of the enclosure will probably never be restored. It’s beautiful though and seeing the contrast between how it was before the wars and the remains today was quite moving. We visited the Enclosure during the day and that evening took a rickshaw ride back for dinner. It was a little scary being that up close and personal with the traffic, but the drivers knew what they were doing and we enjoyed the somewhat bumpy ride.
Thien Mu Pagoda, an historic 7-level temple built on top of Thien Mu Son (Mountain of Lady from Heaven) , is also in the area. It’s a beautiful spot, sacred and serene, even with the constant stream of tourists (just like us). http://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/thien-mu-pagoda.html
Coming: Hectic Hanoi!