We left Saigon last night at 8:20 and traveled by train to Nha Trang. Saigon was absolutely wonderful. We totally enjoyed our time there, in part, to Moira, who put us up in style at The Majestic and The Renaissance. Both of these five star hotels are located on the waterfront within walking distance of all the great bars and restaurants within the area.
We were pampered for almost a week and I have to say, it felt great after two weeks of hard travel. Strangely enough, I got very sick as soon as we arrived with some sort of malaise that left me feeling very weak and nauseous with swollen lymph nodes and rings of rashes. I didn’t leave the hotel the first two days that we checked in. I assume that’s because of the hard journey from Cambodia through to Vietnam and the land crossing we had to make.
Once I was feeling better, we managed to squeeze in a tour of the Mekong Delta, a trip to Cu Chi Tunnels, several museums and several walking and shopping expeditions. The artwork here is incredible and we had a hard time restricting our purchases. Since we still have three weeks left in South East Asia, we are quite limited to what we can take with us.
Vietnam and Cambodia couldn’t be more different.
The people here are friendly and kind. The food is terrific and we weren’t bothered by a soul. Within a day or two of entering Vietnam, we knew that two weeks just wasn’t going to cut it. We will definitely come back, despite a rather rocky entry at the land border of Chau Doc.
John and I opted to travel by overnight train to Nha Trang. The trains here make Chinese trains seem luxurious by comparison and we were a little shocked at first by the small amount of space we were allotted in our soft sleepers.
We were the first ones to board and got settled in comfortably with hopes of having the cabin to ourselves when a Vietnamese family entered. There were six of us crammed into one small cabin and we were just starting to regret our decision to take the train when the two young adults left. They were simply seeing their folks off.
So, John and I were left alone with an elderly couple who spoke no English. Nevertheless, they were very kind and we were quite glad we were sharing with them as the A/C in our cabin kept quitting. Several times during the night, our Vietnamese friends jumped out of bed to proclaim, “Hot. Very hot!” Then they’d search for someone to come and fix it and we’d fall asleep again for another hour or so until it happened again.
I woke up this morning around 5am and watched water-filled rice paddies float by. It was an incredible morning.
We have used our Lonely Planet guidebooks every step of the way and they haven’t steered as wrong yet as far as accommodations are concerned.
We are staying at Blue Star Hotel, a cheap 2 star hotel just off the beach. We’re quite pleased with both room and service. Our room is quite large and very clean. The staff are friendly. They’ve booked our onward train tickets for us and our boat cruise tickets for tomorrow. We even handed in our washing this morning and received it in record time. I highly recommend this hotel to anyone traveling on a budget.
We are absolutely thrilled with the beach as well. It’s the nicest beach we’ve been to. The beach extends around the entire bay and the water is clean and deep sea blue. There’s no trash, no hawkers and best of all, hardly anyone here. We practically had the beach to ourselves today and we didn’t leave until we were good and crispy. It’s been a wonderful and most relaxing day.
Tomorrow, we’re going on a boat cruise to explore the area and unfortunately, we have to leave the next day in order to keep on schedule. We’re sad we don’t have more time here, but Hanoi and Halong Bay are coming up and we still have to make our arrangements for Laos.
All in all, our train ride was pretty good and we’ve decided to travel the rest of the way by train to Hanoi, where we will meet up with Jason and Vicky, two friends from Reach To Teach.
We quite excited to be meeting up with them. We contacted them today and have made arrangements to meet up with them in Halong City. We’ve booked ourselves on an old junk boat for an overnight cruise of Halong Bay and Cat Ba Islands.
From there, the four of us will travel to Laos.