11th May – 12 May, Quy Nhon
Quy Nhon is a seaside town on the mid central coast of Vietnam. It has one of the larger ports in Vietnam and has a huge fishing fleet. It’s not really on the tourist map, but we decided to check it out after reading that a NZ lady ran a cafe and backpackers there; and that NZ has helped out Quy Nhon through a volunteer service assisting them in hospital and fishery management…at least there was going to be one non-Vietnamese person there!
The journey to Quy Nhon was hilarious, we boarded the bus at 9am in Hoi and and pretty much walked into a stinking hot sauna. It was clear that no one else was going to Quy Nhon apart from locals as the bus was filled with them. We sat in our seats and started dripping with sweat – it was supposed to be A/C, clearly to them that meant “Above Comfotable”. Part way through the trip however the bus driver decided he’d had enough, pulled over the bus and started ripping the air con unit out of the roof. Then he climbed outside and onto the top of the rok and ripped off the air con vents – effectively leaving a 3m x 0.5 m hole in the roof….to his credit it did provide a bit more comfort but it was still 38 degrees outside so you couldn’t exaclty call it ‘cool’.
We arrived safely, got onto the back of two motorbike taxis and made our way to Barbara’s – a great feeling arriving and hearing the kiwi accent! Her place was right on the waterfront looking out over the ocean in the Gulf of TONKIN… A couple of beers and a chat and we’d learnt much about the town, how it had developed and what the NZ’ers had been doing there. Quy Nhon had a great feel to it, recently deveoped boardwalk along the beach, a nice warming atmosphere and certainly a true local destination – we only saw about 10 other tourists there.
Dinner out both nights consisted of going to a local seafood restaurant (all fresh in off the boats that morning) and sitting with tables and tables of Vietnamese people selecting what type of seafood we wanted off the menu, while sipping on a sweet Saigon Lager with a block of ice in it. We took a video of the atmosphere in the restaurant which I’ll upload once I find a computer that can read my camera! At one restaurant, par for the course was to drop all your sheels (from clams) onto the floor – along with anything else you didn’t want and the staff would simply clean up around every table after you left – strange feeling but it was the way of the locals so we took part!
Another mare on a motorbike, hired a bike to head around to a local beach (that strangely enough housed a really nicely designed hospital for lepers and their families), but this motorbike didn’t want to get there. It cut out about 10 times and in the end I turned it round and walked it back to the hostel – I’m not sure when we’re going to get lucky with bikes because so far the motorbikes are winning.
Home comforts were aplentya the kiwi cafe, Barbara served up french toast with maple syrup, bananas and bacon, pancakes with lemon and sugar and even had a stock of Twinings Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea – something we hadn’t seen in a few weeks! The comfort food went down a treat – breakfast was magic!
With the help of Barbara we worked out a plan on how to get to Mui Ne, our next destination. A bus to Nha Trang and then a day there with a bus to Mui Ne that night. Two nights in Quy Nhon had treated us very well, given us an insight into local culture without real tourism and filled our stomachs with some of the food we’d been craving…