Friday, December 29, 2017

From funky monkeys to old world charm...

Our next stop was the seaside resort town of Nha Trang. Again surrounded by taxis and motorcycles on getting off the bus, I checked my trusty google maps and found we were walking distance to our hotel. So we shooed the hordes away and set off by foot to find the Happy Angel Hotel. On arrival at the hotel we found they were offering a cheap boat trip for the next day on a boat called the 'Funky Monkey'. It sounded interesting so we locked that in, thinking a nice relaxing boat ride would be fun.

Hmm, the Funky Monkey lived up to its name. On a relatively small flat boat with probably too many people we set off on our day of adventure. They were one crazy crew who I think drank more than most of the passengers, but that did not detract from the fun and mayhem that ensued. Some of the highlights included:

The crew
  • Swimming and snorkelling near the boat and the recommended way in was by jumping high off the side of the boat. The crew set up a makeshift free-floating bar and had an unlimited 'happy hour' with a mystery cocktail concoction. You did though need to be able to swim to the bar to get the drink.
  • Much singing from the crew and a concert with the 'funky monkey boy band'. Not sure about their musical abilities but that was part of the charm. They were fully inclusive of the passengers, finding a variety of people from different countries to sing a national song. Unfortunately with Elizabeth's broken toe as an excuse I became the Australian representative and was forced to sing a rendition of Waltzing Matilda.
  • Lunch was brilliant - they turned the wooden bench seats into one humungous table and kept bringing out food until we were bursting.
  • A relaxing visit to the beautiful beach at Tranh with many options for activities, or just sit and watch the scenery like we did.

Lunch is served
The Funky Monkey Boy Band

All in all that was the most memorable thing we did at Nha Trang as we continued our whirlwind tour of Vietnam the next day to the old town Hoi An. The name confused me most of the time I was there. I kept questioning whether it was 'Hoi' an old town or 'Hoi An' old town. I was assured it was the latter (but never convinced).

Thu Bon River in Hoi An
Travel was by overnight sleeper bus because Hoi An was a good 9 hours plus away. So after about 9 hours as we were sleeping restlessly and uncomfortably in our baby capsules the driver pulled up to the curb and just started yelling at us to get out. No 15 minute gentle warning, no sidle up to the curb with a gentle nudge on your shoulder, just 'get out. GET OUT NOW!' . Drowsily we pulled ourselves together and dragged ourselves out of the bus to be greeted by the customary horde of shuttle vehicles and their shouting owners. We shrugged them off, again found we were walking distance (thanks google) and set off for our family hotel.

Hoi An
The historic district of Hoi An (old town) is a World Heritage Site and an exquisite example of a South East Asian trading port complete with well preserved 15th century architecture and a variety of activities showcasing its history and culture. We fell in love with this little area and wandered its streets for hours, both day and night for two days. At night the lights came alive on the streets and on the water adding a completely different dimension and mood.

One of the many well preserved old homes
What also made it especially inviting was the fact that between the hours of 8 to 11am and 3 to 9:30pm, motorized vehicles were banned in the old town. This meant you could walk around without the fear of imminent death so prevalent generally on roads (and footpaths) in Vietnam. In the morning at about 10:55 the peace would be destroyed by motorcycles and the like tearing around like normal, marking the time to go home for lunch and have a nap before returning at 3pm. I would suggest they make the vehicle-free period 24/7, but even limited, it was a nice change.

We came away thinking that this would be a nice little haven for regular trips and our host told us of one couple from New Zealand who come and stay for a month every year.

Traditional dancing show
Buy your fruit and practise your haggling
Banks of Thu Bon River
Dragon on the bank of the
Thu Bon River
The Lanterns are all on at night

Bonus video if you made it this far. Me being forced to sing Waltzing Matilda.

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