The sleeper bus to Hue was full so we had to get another one which turned out to be a local bus. It was only suppose to be a few hours so we didn’t mind, however the tiny mini bus spent an hour picking people up from different villages and cramming everyone in, using plastic stools as extra seats. The aircon wasn’t very strong and the bus was so small that we were very uncomfortable for the four hour journey. But sure enough we got to Hue about 9am – quicker than the more expensive tourist buses. We decided to go to Backpackers Hostel as we knew the one in Hanoi was good but it was full so we had some breakfast there, then found a small home stay called Amazing Hue with about 9 beds divided by a temporary wall – as was the bathroom! The beds weren’t the best – uncomfortable and a bit dirty – but at only £3 each, including breakfast, it was a bargain. We checked in, had a shower and then went for an explore around the town to the Citadel. It was too expensive to go in (although for locals it is a lot cheaper!) so we walked along the wall to another entrance with a view point.
Walking back through the market we bought a new memory card for our GoPro, then had late lunch at Gecko restaurant. Jordan was really disappointed with his Beef Pho but Natalie’s chicken noodles were nice. As we had got up early we went back to our home stay for a nap. We had dinner at Jalapenos restaurant which was a mexican but Jordan had chicken pasta and Natalie had chicken breast with mushroom sauce, potatoes and veg. Both were delicious, and it was so nice to have a change from Asian food! All travellers will agree that you can’t have rice or noodles all day every day. Sometimes you really crave meat and veg, or even a cheeky McDonald’s goes down well sometimes! After dinner we went for some drinks at Backpackers Hostel which was good as we got two free shots while we there and they did different flavours of vodka like strawberry, snickers, vanilla, skittles etc. We chatted there for a bit and then went back to pack and sleep before our Top Gear drive over Cloud Pass the next day.
We arranged to do the famous Top Gear Drive with three German guys we met in Phong Nha, Max, Marcus and Marvin. The drive is from Hue to Hoi An on mopeds and we organised a guided tour with John who worked at Amazing Hue Home Stay. It was 800,000 Dong for the guide but split between 5 people so was reasonable and 400,000 Dong for one moped for the day but it didn’t include petrol. So in total it cost us £17. We left at 8:45am after our free breakfast of eggs either fried, scrambled or omlette, banh mi (baguette), fresh fruit and tea or coffee. As the drive is so popular, John told us that he would take us on a route that not many backpackers go so we could see the ‘real’ authentic Vietnam. Along the way we visited small fishing villages, a Vietnamese graveyard and a pretty waterfall where we had a freshly caught fish and a freshly killed chicken for lunch with the locals.
John was very proud to show us his culture and we were humbled by the love he had for his country. After our lunch we then drove up Cloud Pass which had beautiful views of Da Nang and beyond. The drive down the hill was windy but fun to drive and we got to Hoi An about 4pm.
We had already booked somewhere to stay on Hostel World called Sunflower Hostel for 4 nights as we knew the hostel was popular and we wanted to relax by a beach for a few days. We chilled by the pool when we got there and had a snack. The food was very good at the hostel and reasonably priced. We had a little sleep then went out for some dinner and drinks with some guys we met at the hostel. Dinner was at Blue Dragon where we both broke the Asian food rule again and had pizza, and then walked to Tiger Tiger bar for some more drinks. Although the hostel was really good it was quite far out from where many of the bars and restaurants were so it was quite a long walk home from Tiger Tiger.
Breakfast the next day (which was included in the price of the room) was really good as well, with Asian and Western choices like eggs cooked to order, the best pancakes, noodles and rice, potato, bread, lots of fresh fruit and tea and coffee. Jordan felt poorly so stayed in bed all day. Luckily there was a pool at the hostel so Natalie could sunbathe. Jordan was still feeling a little dodgy so we researched nice restaurants nearby and a vegan one called Karma Waters came up. Jordan was keen to stay away from meat anyway so we decided to go there. He had the veggie burger and chips and Natalie had most yummy vegetable curry with 3 rotis and a side of dhal. It was so good, and almost better than the vegetable curry in Sri Lanka. As Jordan was feeling ill we had an early night back at the hostel.
The next day we went to Phong Son gym late morning, which was just down the road from Sunflower and run by a Vietnamese bodybuilder. For the afternoon we rented a moped and drove to An Bang beach where we sat on sun loungers and had some lunch.
We’re not really the kind of people to sit on sun loungers in a crowded beach. We like to be the only two people relaxing on the beach, sitting on the sand. So after a while we drove off in search of a quieter beach and watched the sunset. That night was a lazy one, having dinner at our hostel (both had chicken pasta), chatted with some of the other backpackers, and then went to bed.
It was time to get off our lazy arses and actually do something in Hoi An so on Monday we went on a snorkelling trip to Cham Island. Firstly we stopped off at an island with lots of market stalls selling fish, crabs, lobsters, jewellery and souvenirs.
The boat then stopped next to Cham Island for 1 hour of snorkelling. Unfortunately there was not enough snorkels for everyone and this was the day we broke our gopro as we didn’t notice the case had a crack in it and we took it into the water to film us snorkelling! However this was also the day that Natalie relaxed a bit more and actually realised she enjoys snorkelling when she can do it at her own pace. (She has a thing with water in her face and used to find it uncomfortable to breath with the snorkel).
After snorkelling we were hungry and the seafood lunch on Cham Island really hit the spot. Even Jordan thought it was all delicious and he’s not a massive fish fan. After lunch we had an hour and a half to chill and swim on the island. It was so very hot there that both of us spent most of the time in the sea. It was a beautiful beach with lovely colour sea which was cold so it cooled you down.
The trip was from 8am to 2pm so in the afternoon we rented a moped for 24 hours and drove back to the quiet beach we were at the day before. Later on Natalie had a nap (it sounds like we’re napping a lot doesn’t it!?) and Jordan went to the gym again. That night we went for some dinner at restaurant next to hostel which was nice. Jordan had the duck and Natalie had the sweet and sour fish. This was also where Jordan had a pint of fresh beer for just 3,000 Dong which is about 10p! We then met Natalie and Fliss and Max, Marcus and Marvin who we met in Phong Nha and chatted over drinks and pool at Sunflower hostel. Why Not bar was then on the cards as we all wanted a dance.
The next day we were a bit hungover so we had a lie in then drove the moped to Cua Dai beach and chilled. We dropped the bike back at 2pm, had lunch at the hostel, skyped Jordan’s family, then caught the night bus at 5pm to Nha Trang. We had to wait for the bus for hours, and then when we got on we were the last ones on so we were stuck with the beds right at back and bottom of the bus where the aircon didn’t reach so it was boiling hot. Safe to say, neither of us slept very well.