24.05.2016 - 24.05.2016
I intended on cutting short these blog posts to cover several places or perhaps condensing a week's travels in to one post, but unfortunately I've failed as there is just too much to mention! This one just covers a few scenic stops a day's journey...
We hopped aboard our tour coach in Huế to set off for our next destination, the small city of Hội An. Our bus took us out through rice paddies to the Hải Vân Pass which provided some great scenery up and on to the highest point. We took some photos from inside the bus (as we weren't sure if we were getting off at any point, plus we wanted to capture some of the great views from along the roadside) which explains what might look like strange colouration in this first photo:
We had a refreshment and leg stretch break at a beach resort where of course we went straight for the beach to dip our toes! This was our first and only beach in Vietnam - we saw others but never set foot on them - so we were pleasantly surprised at the lovely sand and sea:
At the bottom of the Hải Vân Pass we had another brilliantly blue seascape and dashed off the bus for a couple of photo opportunities. There were some locals asking for small coins in our own currency; we were told explicitly not to give them any by our guide but were told we could give them Vietnamese money if we wanted to help them out (even though they didn't ask for Vietnamese money). I meant to ask why this was but forgot about it entirely until I wrote this post, months later! It remains a mystery to me but presumably foreign currency that they were asking for wouldn't have 'helped out' in the right way. I can only assume it may have been taken from them by whoever was their boss, whereas they could pocket the Vietnamese stuff but it's just a guess.
The pass climbs up a mountain of the Annamite Range and also represents a boundary between various old Vietnamese kingdoms as well as current day northern and southern Vietnamese climates. It's a fairly steep winding road as you would expect from a mountain pass, and also starred in the Top Gear Vietnamese special where it was mentioned as one of the world's best coast roads. It's also been called one of the most dangerous roads in Vietnam! There is a tunnel which avoids the pass for anyone who prefers to avoid it, which also saves some time on the journey as the twisting roads add on around an hour. Towards the top we had another break and spent some time at the second world war bunkers and much earlier Vietnamese guard tower with yet more spectacular views all around from this height.
^Even at this height you can't escape the electrical wires/pylons! I think they make it in to most views!
A final beach scene (again from the bus!) as we descended down towards Danang:
We didn't spend any time in Danang apart from driving through it (and later catching a flight from the airport) but we understood it was popular with tourists looking for a beach holiday in Vietnam. Apparently it has various large high-end hotels and all-inclusive resorts. I can't help feeling it's pretty far removed from 'the real Vietnam' - a phrase I generally detest! But it would probably be a nice place to relax if you were spending a long time in Vietnam. It wasn't too long before we reached Hội An which turned out to be one of my favourite places in Vietnam! More next time.