Our fiftieth day started early for a 6am tour to the DMZ. Yeah – I know we hate organised tours, but there is very little alternative to see the DMZ. Annoyingly, we got picked up at 6am, driven around for a bit, had a crap breakfast, then at 7:45am drove back past our hotel! What a waste as we could’ve had an extra hour in bed and a decent breakfast.
The tour of the DMZ took us to part of the Ho Chi Minh trail (Hiel Luong Bridge), and the bit we saw was just a modern bridge from Korea. Then on to an old US airbase Khe Kanh with some old US equipment and then on to the Vinh Moc tunnels – a network of tunnels buried to avoid US bombs.
The tunnels are worth seeing and the history is interesting, but the rest of the items on the tour were not. With 7 hours on a bus to see them you really need to be keen – or see the trip as more of a way of seeing the countryside and real villages and towns with a few DMZ bits thrown in.
When we were back in the UK, we (and I’m sure some family and friends) thought we were going where no man had gone before – but as we’ve found its not the case – it really is a well trodden path. Wandering round Hue in the evening we bumped into some more people we met in Ha Long bay and had a good night with. They were just leaving Hue, but due to the standard route we all seem to follow, we have arranged a night out in Hoi An in a couple of days. The French couple we met on the same trip and bumped into a few days ago – we will be meeting in Ho Chi Minh in a week or so! Such a small world, and clearly such an unadventurous and standard route we use!
For our last day in Hue we used a walking map provided free from the Mandarin Cafe (cheap good food and beer) and explored the town a bit more – nice to be free of tours! Had my hair cut and probably had the most care ever taken. Took two guys to do it, one with clippers and one with a cut throat razor, and cost 50,000 dong (£1.60) which is cheap but probably Western rates. We had hoped to get to our next stop in Hoi An by train and public bus, but due to the upcoming Tet holidays the public busses are packed to the brim and not really suitable. So a comfortable tourist bus has been booked for the 3-4 hour journey.
As it turned out, the bus was the SinhTourist sleeping bus, which was a bizarre 3-row, 2 high and about 8 long arrangement with seats that reclined almost flat and really very comfortable. Ifyou consider an overnight bus trip then use them. Great views along the way, but we didn’t go over the pass and instead used the tunnel. Made no difference due to the mist anyway.
Hoi An turns out to be a rather pleasant and chilled town though slightly tourist orientated. But easy to walk around, nice shops, and lots of UNESCO sites to see, such as temples and the covered Japanese Bridge. Restaurants are easy to find and menus easy to read, and the food rather good. We had a nice meal in one which was rated at 71/144 – so thats at least 70 other good places.
From our hotel we can walk about 3km interesting walk and get to the beach and sea, which again was rather pleasant – lovely quiet sandy beaches with good views. And we are now fortunate the cloudy weather that has dogged us since getting into Vietnam has cleared.
One of the typical trips from here is to My Son – a UNESCO temple (ruin) complex. Very nice to look at, and interesting, but only an hour or so needed. Seeing My Son is so typical we saw 2 people we’ve met previously!
All in all, a rather interesting few days in Vietnam
Next installment is here