A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: eralc

Racing up the East Coast of Austrailia

from Airlie beach to the Whitsundays, Magnetic island, Mission beach and cairns

We left Hervey bay (blog coming - saved on a friends lap top) and its confusions about pronuciations on our premier motor bus. Andy, Amy and Alex from Fraser island were on the Greyhound - which broke down on them last time and was this time late - so our bus set off before them.

We all arrived together after the night bus in Airley beach. A beautiful small marina town filled with lively bars and shops and cafe's. As one t shirt put it "Airley beach - a drinking town with a sailing problem'. However we didnt have much time there, checking in at 9:30 am we then headed for breakfast, to check in with Tribal travel for our sailing trip, sort out some emails in various orders. We met up after an afternoon on the beach / by the lagoon for a beer while waiting for our laundry to wash and dry and wash and dry. The next morning it was up early again to get to the marina and on to our boat - the Apollo (RACING HISTORY Apollo has a proud and extensive racing history listed as follows: Sydney – Hobart one first, three seconds and two thirds. Winner of the South China Sea Series. Apollo has won every major race held on the East Coast of Australia including: Sydney to Brisbane and Brisbane to Gladstone. Apollo set the record for the Sydney to Southport race. Winner of the Kenwood Cup. Winner of the Around Hawaii Island Race. Winner of the Cairns New Guinea Race. Winner of the Hobart to Honiara Race and not forgetting Winner of the 6 gruelling Whitsunday Fun Races consecutively.)

On board we were shown our beds - any travelling as a two got a double ish bed. Ours was above two dutch cousins who bagged the bottom. The top meant that i as the smaller person was next to the sloping ceiling and leanne was on the edge with imminent danger of rolling off the edge on to the dutch below! Over all the trip was amazing. We set off with clouds and drizzle but it cleared off to blue skys for our first snorkle. Having forgotten all my diving certificate stuff , I was content to snorkle along with Leanne and we saw some amazing fish and coral in the shallow calm waters. The Whitsundays are part of the Barrier reef - it was like being in Thailand but bigger, brighter and more colourful! After a nap on the beachy cove it was back to the boat and some more sailing - including hoisting sails and the like - to the area we were having dinner. While cruising around the islands we saw WHALES!! playing and dolfins as well, truely great for us as we hadn't had time to see the whales when we were in Hervey bay. After a great dinner cooked by chef Karl, we had some drinks all together but it was early to bed as we would be up with dawn. The second day we went to the best beach in the area after some morning snorkling and took with us beach volley ball, roudners, cricket etc. The white hot sand was also very good for napping on while 'referreeing' the games going on.

Back into the dingy (or maxi taxi) in 3 groups of 9 we were back on the boat and off to another sheltered cove for dinner again - more hoisting and sitting on the high side as the boat clipped along through the waves some of which may have hit a few of us on board! Sitting on deck eating chips and dips as the sun sets among the waves around you is an experience not to be missed!

On our last morning we snorkeld a bit more - but the site wasnt as exciting as the others so headed on to South Molle island for a 2k treck up to a viewing platform to see the whole of the whitsundays. Just as we were heading back to the boat to change out of our stinger suits we saw a turtle! Yes! another must see ticked off our list!

The walk in the heat was deffinately worth it for the panoramic views accross the coral, white beaches, sandy cays and islands. We then trouped down to catch up to the non snorklers who were already using the island resorts pool for some giant milkshakes and sunbathing. Then back to the boat and sailing sailing home to the hostel in Airley Beach. That night we had tables reserved at the pub attatched with beer with our group, some kareoke and dancing then fairly early to bed as we had a bus early the next morning.

9 am found us all at the bus stop again betting on how late amy and andy's greyhound would be vs our premier. Theirs was 15 mins late and ours was on time perfectly! That bus ride was mostly slept sleeping after 3 days of about 5 hours sleep, we were on our way to townsville to get a ferry to magnetic island. The greyhound used a different bus terminal and so different ferry while we walked down the road to our ferry and then via the local bus to our hostel. Adam Leanne and I were in a room together in a quiet tucked away hostel with a small pool and lots of hammocks. We dumped our stuff, looked into getting a ticket for the full moon party at the hostel up the road and called home. Then it was cooking time for dinner and as i wondered back into the kitchen i bumped into a firned from Newcastle called Will! Small world once again, he had also been living and working in Brisbane and was taking a little holiday before heading back for work.

The next day was full of relaxing, reading, hammocking and the like. Adam wondered up to the other hostel to meet up with Amy and Andy to organise meeting times for the party that night. Having found out that it wasn't infact on the beach, you weren't allowed on the beach, you had to buy a ticket we were a little dissapointed when comparing it to our other full moon parties. But we weren't detterred, it would still be outside and we had lots of friends to go with before saying goodbye to them all. We joined a group at our hostel for a few drinks before catching the local bus up to Base hostel where the party was held.

Waking up the next morning to find Adam in a captins hat (he had not set off with) at 9:50 was exciting as we had to check out by 10:00. Then calling to confirm our seats on our bus from Townsville to Mission beach we found out our ticket wasn't valid. Some slightly worried calls to Tribal Travel and we were assured it would all be fine.. concerned but reassured we jumped on the local bus after saying goodbye to Adam. While on the ferry between the island and the mainland (where there was finally signal for our mobiles) we got the call from Tribal, Lucy our star booking agent was on the case and would email us new tickets while she sorted it all out. AT the bus station, the lady at the desk let us pop behind, check our emails and get the new refference then book us on the bus 1 hour later. Tired and a bit smelly we arrived at our best hostel so far - Scottys beach house in mission beach. Nice rooms around a large and deep pool complete with plank to walk accross, laid back helpful staff and full of friendly faces. After crashing out for a nap we were pointed in the direction of food and then chilled out watching the antics around the pool.

The next moring it was repacking, bed unmaking and check out time again. At Scotty's they have had the genius idea of selling individual slices of bread and eggs. Perfect when you're not staying long but dont want to eat precooked or fast food. A nice egg breakfast and then down to the beach... where we saw amy and andy again! They had infact been staying in the room next to us! A lift to the bus stop that nigt and it was on to Cairns arriving at night and wondering up to our hostel NJoy which was slightly out of the city.

Posted by eralc 18:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Beyond Brisbane

heading north finally!

The day had finally come and we were leaving Brisbane. After goodbyes to our collegues, a birthday celebration for Leanne and a huge amount of laundry and packing we were on our way to our coach terminal out of there.

Our first stop was a night at Rainbow beach, about 4 hours north of Brisbane we arrived at 6pm to find it pitch black and having only one shop that was open past 5 we hot footed it there for some food. In the morning once we woke up we decided to take a walk along the beaches and to a sandblow. The sandblow we could not find, the beach however, we did manage to locate! Rainbow beach is called that due to the colours in the sand from the sand stone cliffs. There is an interesting aboriginal story about how they came to be different coloured but its quite long and i have lots to say! We splashed in the sea, climbed mini sand dunes and carved words into the sandstone along the edge of the beach.
After a late lunch it was time for some reading (Englands Mistress - a biography of Nelsons mistress) and onto the coach where Adam was waiting for us to go to our next stop Hervey (pronounced Harvey) Bay.
AGain arriving late at night there was not a lot to do, we had eaten but Adam was left on the hunt for food - subway it turns out. The next day we were up and onto the beach again. Not allowed in the sea here as Hervey bay is the breeding ground for Tiger sharks and whales - death by shark no thank you! That afternoon we had a briefing about our 4x4 truck trip to Fraser Island. Fraser is the worlds largest sand island and home to the most pure bread dingo's left in Oz. We met our group, decided on a shopping list and hit the IGA (food shop) and butchers for some bbq food and pasta like goods, as well as some beverages. That night we had a drink together, some dinner all cooked in our lovely hostel then to bed as there is litterally nothing to do at night there at all! EVen the late night bar was not open and so therefore not late night at all.
The next morning we were up early to store our big bags, and throw our little ones on the bus before a video about safe driving on Fraser, Dingo Safety (hillarious - the acting is beautiful!) and some hiring of sleeping bags etc. Then we were off, escorted to the ferry and away we went. Our driver to start was a guy called alex who has driven in countries all over the world including a winter season in the Alpse. Lucky really as torrential rain started up with howling winds. Not really ideal conditions for seeing lots of sand and sand tracks. However he powered us through and up and down and around even reversing down a hill to avoid a 4x4 bus. Who knew they even made 4x4 tour buses anyway!? Our first view of Lake Mackenzie was a little.. damp. I paddled, Amy jumped in and promptly out as the heavens opened again and we hid in our truck. Next stop was seeing the wreck on the beach so after lunch huddled underneath the roof of the one set of cement buildings on tarmac we set off again down the beach. The rollers were amazing and the sea looked fantastic. But again weary of rip tides and the sharks i daren't paddle at all - not even a little bit.
We jumped out of the truck for some quick photos near the wreck of the Moheno and then were on our way to our campsite. Our tour leader (safe at home in Hervey bay) is not the most PC of men, nor does he agree with a lot of the government legislation so to avoid us getting in trouble for noise after 9pm or having camp fires (surely what camping is all about) we were staying the first night in an Aboriginal camp site. This also meant for us that we were able to sleep in a rotunda - or large round hut - so no camping in a monsoon for us! WOOHOO!

We bbq'd dinner then strolled down to the next group to use their camp fire and have a chat, roast some marshmallows etc. We did excellent fire building and Leanne and Adam even commander'd an ax at one point to take some branches off the largest fallen tree to better shape our fire. We were all suitably impressed.

The next day it was up and out fast to beat the tide up to Indian Head, and let me tell you, it was a race. The tide coming in, us having to get far enough up to be able to get over Indian Head to park safely on the sheltered other side. Once on top, we paused to have a look at the sea life below. Or had it been less rough we should have. Sadly the waves were still too busy crashing so no sharks, whales or turtles for us to see that day. Afterwards deciding we were behind schedule and driving on racing the tide again was a bit much, Leanne, Lorrain and I walked the next 2 k to the champagne pools while everyone else relaxed, burried alex up to his neck and played frisbee. The chapagne pools are there to swim in when its calm. but as it wasnt we just had a gorgeous display of the waves pouring over creating hundreds of tiny champagne like bubbles. Not enough for Leanne and I, we decided to paddle a bit - untill nearly getting washed away and scrambling out fast! We walked back and then drove up, we had lunch while everyone who had lunched before went to see. Then it was back down the beach to our next campsite via a shop for an ice cream! The sky's were clearing and it was turning into a beautiful evening. We were having pasta with sauce and some more roasted corn that night so started cooking early. As we were in a proper camp site this time there was the no noise rule so after dinner we trooped down together in a close group (ding safe, men at the edges women in the middle ) to the beach and sat listening to the waves and watching the stars.

The next morning back down the beach and an inland walk for 45 minutes to one of the most beautiful lakes i have ever seen. A Gorgeous deep bluey green it was a filled in sand blow so very very steep. Some paddling and jumping in as it got so deep so fast. Then as another group arrived with a boogie board some midly competitive boogie boarding down the dune over a jump (created that minute) into the lake with a huge splash! Back to our truck double quick to be able to see Lake Mackenzie in good weather and it was well worth the rush. A paler blue the lakes on sand islands are gorgeous. Then back to the ferry, to the hostel, to the showers, to food to our night bus to Airley beach where we were booked on a Whitsundays sailing trip with most of hte people on our Fraser Tour. Infact it all sounded so good with our group that Adam decided to move up his island trip to stay on with us.

Airley Beach and The Whitsundays to follow

Posted by eralc 23:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Leaving Vietnam


Our tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels out side the city started at 8 am so we were up before hand and had time to grab some breakfast - and then hang about 20 minutes for our bus to show up... The entire drive there was spent, very sensibly, napping. The site is a section of hte tunnelsthat they have cleaned up and set up as 'real life' exhibits. You are taken around by a guide and get to watch an informative video with "american infidels' featuring. The cu chi people lived in the tunnell system for years so they had kitchens and eating areas as well as blacksmiths and armouries set up. To do this with out being seen and having light to see they dug large trenches/sunken areas with a roof on top and special contraptions to try to stop any smoke giving away the position. There was also a lovely display of their inventive traps and spikes to trap the americans as they moved through the area. Some of them were truely grusome.
With respect to the tunnels themselves, some have been widened for western visitors but even so its not easy to fit in - I at 5"4 had to crouch and crawl through the section we visited. I was also the only one of us girls to be able to get into the entrance way to the tunnels that hadn't been widend. However after dropping into a tiny hole in the ground and getting my shoulders in and crouching down with the lid on, i then couldnt get myself out as the hole was to narrow for me to be able to jump about in so had to get the guid to lift me out. Which coupled with Gene losing a shoe down there and the guide having to drop in left us all in giggles and so on we went to pose in/on a tank for photos.
We were then back on the bus and driven back to town, we got the bus to drop us near war remnants museum that we wanted to see as well as our time was limited and i have to say all in all it was an exhausting day. The most difficult for me was not the tiger cell cages used to house prisoners but the display by journalists of the time of their photos giving time and dates of death, some only 2 mintutes after taking photos. Equally shocking, as i didnt know anything about the Vietnam war, was the exhibition on the problems caused by the chemical warfare. Including maps and videos showing the extent and how it has affected children born after the war due to the impacts on the parents or its existance in the soil.

After all that feeling pretty exhasted we all headed home for food and sleeping and general chilling out.
The next day we were off again to a new city and a new country. Stepping up the pace so we could hurry on to Thailand for another full moon party, this time with all our new friends. We left vietnam as we had arrived, on a bus, but not as long a journey this time! The boarder crossing was interesting as well, the bus leader took everyone's passports and put them in, then the vietnamese customs had to read out the names for us to collect our passports... their pronuciation of some of our names was as hysterical to us as our attempts at their names must be to them.

Arriving in Cambodia even from Vietnam is truly interesting. There was our group of people, and a few others, maybe 15 of us and at least that many if not more taxi and hostel touts all desperate for us to use them and shouting or climbing over each other to get to us to the point where we couldnt get off the bus. Sending Leanne first we escaped out to collect our bags and decide where we were going and with who while Leanne hid round the corner in peace to have a smoke. Smoking is one of the only acceptable reasons for not being able to talk to the taxi men as soon as you step off the bus.
We settled on happy and lucky our drivers and the okay guest house and off we set. After deciding all the girls would jsut get a dorm room for a dollar as we filled it ourselves we arranged to have happy and lucky pick us up to take us on the trip to the killing fields and s21 the next day. That night we had dinner int he giant dining room of our hostel and then decided to go on a bar crawl along the street facing the river. It was halted in the second as we found a bar who would extend their happy hour for us (by now about 15 people having added a few more along the way). We attempted next to get into taxi's again and go to a club. There were two in Siem Reap, one of which is called called the heart of darkness, which is famous for having lots of rich kids and their minders and gun fights! However on the way our two taxi's got seperated and as we hadn't decided which one we were going to, after dropping someone off at home Leanne and I ended up in the heart of darkness alone! Never ones to be put off a good adventure we stayed to share a large chang beer and dance a bit then feeling tired and with no sign of minders, let alone gun fights, we set off home to discover everyone else arriving as they had been in a bar downt he street from the club with a swimming pool but also gotten tired and mindful of our full day the next day.
All that was left was the adventure to the one toilet/shower/outside cubical one at a time past the sleeping bodies through the guest house and then a good nights sleep!

Posted by eralc 16:12 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Being grown up in Brisbane

Obviously there has been some parts of the trip skipped out, but fear not, due to my inability to throw things away there is a scrap book to remind me when i get enough time to fill the gaps in. We arrived in Brisbane after a few days with my cousin Nicola in Sydney.

We first landed in Australia at 6:20 am and so decided it would be very intelligent to go to the central train station and leave our bags and explor the city before going to her flat. Now there were a few flaws in this plan:
1) it was about 6 degrees when we landed (it got warmer but only as the sun shone) and we were used to much hotter heats and also were dressed for bangkok not sydney. So flip flops at 8 am in the freezing are not the best idea
2) while the jet lag was minimal the fact we hadn't slept or eaten well in about 12 hours was not condusive to a good day of sight seeing.

However this did not deter us, so off we set through the streets of Sydney and after some reinforcing english breakfasts (amazing!) we saw the harbour bridge and opera house in the first hours of day light. Possibly due to the tiredness and the fact we've been seeing sights for 3 months but some of my sense of wonder was lost. The opera house was amazing, but no one told me the harbour bridge was just a bigger copy of the tyne bridge! litterally, its even made of middlesboro steel!

Anyway, after a bit of dissapointment there we sat in the sun and basked like lizzards waiting to heat up, i fell asleep, we carried on through the rocks of Sydney and got ourselves on line to the instructiosn from Nicola. We then provided ourselves with a mobile phone having had our last remaining one from the two from Koh Phi Phi taken at a full moon party before we left. Thus armed ... we went to the cinema! (Indiana Jones)

Later that day we got on the subway/metro/whatever its called and got to Nicola's office and then back to the house in Hornsby on the north shore line for a steak dinner!

We stayed for a few days at Nicola's not doing much but laundry, sleeping and washing and being in a house not a hostel and it was fantastic! We walked to the local shops, went on a day trip to Manly beach and not once managed to get up and out of the house before 1 in the afternoon!
While we were there they took us to one of the 'clubs' which is like a restaurant, pub, mini casino for slot machines and bingo - or keno here - and fuction room. It cant make profit so all themoney they make has to be re invested in it meaning the food is cheap. We played 5 games of keno during dinner and then used our winnings on the slot machines or pokies as they are called here. Mainly they frustrated me and i got bored pretty quickly speically if someone else was doing better than me so left Leanne to it and then pushed buttons when i felt like it! I dont remember the total outcome of the evening but i believe we either broke even or were about 5 dollars up!

I must go to work now so the last of sydney and our arrival in Brisbane will have to wait.

Posted by eralc 22:29 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

More Vietnam

Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne and the start of Siagon (Ho Chi Minh City)

-17 °C

Leaving Hanoi we got on the first leg of our 5 stop bus journey down the coast of Veitnam. It was a very very exciting sleeper bus we were headed for Hue. This bus unlike all the other coaches we had been on actually had beds. Bunk beds to be exact. 3 accross the bus with an aisle between each bed then at the back there were 5 accross. Leanne and I picked our beds but didnt think it through fully and so were upwind of the toilet, our first error! The beds fit me perfectly but were a bit of a squash for 5"9 Leanne so we had a good laugh about how 6"2 Nate would have fit on his bus the night before. Anyway, off we went and after our first dinner/bathroom stop i was out like a light and slept almost solidly through till sunrise when we would stop again for breakfast and then onto Hue.
We arrived at Hue at about 9am and decided to stay one night and get the bus the next day at 1pm so went into a guest house next to the bus stop. On going downstairs after a shower to book our bus seat the next day it appeard Leannes ticket had gone missing between getting off the bus and unpacking and getting downstairs again. So we bought her a new one minus the first stop and set off to go and see the citadale of Hue.
Hue was the ancient capital and home to the imperial family of vietnam, within the citadale is the forbidden city home to the wives and concubines, one of the kings had something like 625 wives - it would take him over a year and half to see each one if he saw one a day! The citadale was being restored for an annual festival that would happen after we left so we wondered around in the sun and saw some of the silver and china work left and the buildings then headed out for some food. While we were on our way out we appeared to pass a tv challenge with groups of people racing through the citadale with camera crews to reach a 'big red spot' so as we were asked if we'd seen one we may be on tv. But we dont know what the show was or what country it belongs to!

After some food we went online and updated our blogs, but i was only upto somewhere in loas! That evening was the birthday of a friend of Leannes who had passed away earlier in the year so we had a drink in her name before heading to bed early as the next day I wanted to see one of the royal tombs before getting on the bus.

We got up and hired a xe om or moto scooter with driver. Our drivers both spoke excellent english and mine had been an interpreter for the US during the war. They drove us up to the most popular tomb, the tomb of the emperor Tu Duc and told us a bit about the country side we drove through passing the first harvest of rice drying on the road sides. We were then free to amble about through the tomb and look at the architecture, this tomb was built around the turn of the century (maybe 1910's?) though right now i cant remember the exact date. While beautiful it is bizzare to think that some of the tombs on the complex were built after europe had moved on to buildings like Versailles decades before. But given the weather there it is also plausible that they didnt necessarily need windows and doors as much and the open style was good for them! Tu Duc used his tomb as a retreat from the city and built himself a lake in the middle of the complex which was nice to sit on the side of and escape the heat thought it was only about 11am.
After this our guides suggested as we had a bit more time we take a trip to a pagoda near by as it was free to get in so we agreed and my driver took us on a tour around telling us a bit about it and the life of monks as he had been a monk when he was younger. This pagoda also has the car used by a monk when he set himself on fire in protest. The car he drove to the gates of the re unification palace in ho chi min city has been preserved as a relic by the bhuddist monks and stored with photos of the burning.

We jumped on our bus and were on our way to Hoi An where Nate, Sarah, Gene and Martin were already. As we stepped off the bus that evening we bumped into some of the Canadians we had met in Laos when we were tubing, while talking to them before finding a guest house sarah and gene walked past and so escorted us to the guest house saving some map reading and getting lost drama! The guest house's manager's sister had just opened a tailors shop that they had gone to the night before so we went with them to dinner with the tailors at a local restaurant. The meal was fantastic and certainly not something we would have found or been able to order ourselves. It consisted of hundreds of rice papers that you rolled into spring rolls with vegetables and a spicy peanut sauce, then came out prawn spring rolls that you rolled up in another rice paper with some vegetables and omlette with prawns in that you tore up and put in as well as satay sticks that you pulled off and put in the spring rolls. Completely stuffed we walked back with the owner of the shop who gets such bad travel sickness she can only travel by scooter or plane. Declining the taxi offer we decided to walk with her and headed to the shop so they could do the fitting on the clothes orderd the day before. So Leanne and I had a look and decided to get some things made ourselves! I got two shirts made for work, and a halterneck top as the one I had packed no longer seemed to fit quite right. Leanne got a pair of light weight brown trousers and two chinese style tops. It turns out we were remarkably restrained compared to everyone else there! The tailors had fallen in love with Gene's travelling panda and so had made him a waistcoat/smoking jacket.

Nate had discovered a bar that did free rum from 10 till 11 where he had been for the two nights before and met a girl called Nicola who joined our travelling party. We visited the bar but given our early start and busy travelling day Leanne and I did not last very long and headed home to sleep. We had also made plans the next day to hire a scooter with Sarah and Gene and see some other parts of the country side. We headed off to china beach and the marble mountains with Leanne driving her first kick start scooter. Not realising she had never driven a car before Sarah and Gene assured her it would be fine so with me explaining you cant change gear while accelerating as we drove we made our way along the highway to the marble mountain and after a small detour also made it to china beach where I instantly shed my clothes and leapt in the sea as it was ridiculously hot again! The leaping was also necessary as the white sand becomes insanely hot during the day.
Once we were done with the beach we headed back into town and went to a posh hotel that is the sister of our guest house and we were free to use the pool. we found Nate and Nicola there in the sun shine but given our scootering we stayed in the shade as you always get more sun than you think while driving and despite sun cream were feeling as if we'd done enough time in the sun! We also grabbed a bowl of soup (Pho) form the hotel before Leanne and I headed back for our fitting. While at the fitting we discovered that as Leannes tops were trimmed in black and her trousers were brown it would probably be best if she got a black pair as well, and I decided to get a dress made in a blue/purple silk.

Sarah, Gene and Martin left Hoi An to stop them buying any more clothes and headed for the beach. The next day Leanne and I got up slowly, went to find a shoe shop and get some nice flip flops/sandles made and I found a pair of heels that were beautiful and just happened to fit perfectly so got them as well. While waiting for our shoes to be ready we had a fitting for the dress and new trousers then headed over the pool to cool down before getting on the bus. We collected our shoes and clothes, Nate and Nicola and headed over to the bus stop grabbing the back row this time as there were four of us.

One more night bus journey done we arrived in Nha Trang a little more tired as it was 5 am and I didnt sleep as well as the last time. Sarah and Gene had sent a scooter to come get us so we hopped in a taxi to the guest house they were in. The taxi driver stopped to get breakfast so Nate and Nicola joined in his sandwhich buying meaning they got them at the local price not tourist price so we were very happy and arrived to find our rooms wouldnt'be ready till 8:30 but the internet was free so taking it in turns we checked our emails then Leanne and I headed off to find some breakfast. Nate and Nicola shotgunned the first room ready so were able to go up at 8, sadly ours wasnt ready till 9 so in a zombie state we waited till then to get a shower and a lie down.

We then headed out to meet sarah and Gene who were on the beach outside our guest house, unfortunately we turned right not left and walked for an hour up the beach and back before finding them 10 minutes to the left! That night was Martins last night as his free 14 day visa meant he had 24 hours to get out of Vietnam so had to mission south to Ho Chi Minh City asap. The next day we were booked on a boat tour of some of the islands around Nah Trang which involved lots of swimming and a floating bar at lunch time with wine that tasted so awful none of us could really manage our shot sized glasses.
Back on dry land we showered and headed out for dinner with all the people we had accumulated by bumping into and so dinner was for about 13 people that night. While waiting after ordering Gene and I booked ourselves on a diving trip the next day, my first dive since qualifying in Krabi. Sarah and Leanne were to snorkel and the guys taking us were appropriately rude about non divers so the next day promised to be lots of fun.

We headed out for the dive with almost more crew than divers! Gene and I had two divers from the shop leading us, one who was qualifying for his dive master and one who was already a dive master. Our first dive was at Maya bay and then the next at octopus point, we saw eels hiding in coral and all kinds of exciting fish... Gene and I also managed to fit in time to play underwater charades while decending. After our dives and some lunch (at 11 am) the crew told us that it was their pay day and they would be at a bar called Guava and we should go. This left the south africans in hysterical laughter as apparently Guava means something else in Africaans. We spent another afternoon on the beach after the dive and napped while Nate and Nicola went to the mud baths and we all met up for dinner and some drinks again that evening. We headed out to a club called the Sailing club on the beach that night and got in for free as the manager was a south african and Sarah and Gene had met him a few nights before. When we got too tired and hot we walked home along the beach in the surf. I think this option should always be the way to get home from a club! Stopping for sandwiches on a street corner Nate took the opportunity to drive a cyclo while soaking wet! The next day as we were tired we just flopped on the beach and planned our next travel moves deciding to book our bus ticket the next day. Sarah and Gene convinced us to go to Mui Ne another beach stop with them before going on to Ho Chi Minh City so that night we packed up and found somewhere to add movies to ipods and some more music.

Up at 7 the next morning for a bus to Mui Ne we got on to the bus and after the first hour of napping we had breakfast. For Leanne and I that was peanut butter sandwhiches and for Sarah and Gene cornflakes with long life chocolate milk. Sadly as i took my camera out to take a photo of cereal on the bus it got tangled in the blanket and despite checking my seat for any left items for possibly the first time in my life i didnt see the camera and so it was lost... In Miu Ne we found a beach bungalow for $5 and i realised the camera absence. Our guest house were great and called the bus office who called the bus but as it had been filled up they couldn't see it. Not thinking clearly i didnt offer a reward which apparently guarentee's your objects being returned to you once you get to the end of the bus line but we just thought we would ask there and see. Leanne and I decided we needed to keep moving and as she was developing a cold agreed to stay one night there then get a bus at 1am to Ho Chi Minh City.

The next day before we left we hired a scooter per pair and set off to find some sand dunes. AFter a few detours again including a broken wheel that had to be repaired we arrived and slid/lept down the sand dunes till we could no longer climb up them again and so headed back for lunch and showers. Leanne and Gene had a sled each but didnt get up great speeds, Sarah and I jumped in various fashions... one of which involved me ending up rolling down the sand dunes so some washing or rinsing was needed urgently! Another afternoon, another beach and some more reading. On this beach we (leanne) discovered star fish burying themselves in the sand as the tide moved out. Digging them up we dropped them back into the surf watching them bury themselves, this kept us entertained for at least half an hour!

Then it was just dinner and sitting on the side of the road till our bus came... we were told it would be at 2am not 1am so when 2:30 rolled around we were exceptionally glad to see our bus roll up and stop for us unlike all the other coaches that had just sailed past us! We arrived in HCMC very early again and had instructions from Nate and Nicola as to where they were staying so after asking at the tourist office for our coach company for the camera (again a no) we found what we thought was the guest house. But apparently had gone to the one next door! As it was the same price and had very happy owners we just stayed there leaving a note explaining what we had done. Leanne was feeling pretty awful with a cold and nasty chesty cough so I left her in our room to sleep and wondered around the corner to the pharmacy where the conversation went like this

"Hello, can i get some antiboitics?"
"yes, how many"
".... 1 sheet thanks"
"....."<-- the eqivalent of about 40pence.

And that was it, feeling very proud of myself for remembering the name of the antibioitic for chest infections back i went to the guest house and presented them to Leanne who was equally surprised about how easy it was to self prescribe yourself - or someone else!

Eventually we set about getting something to eat and finding the Quantas travel shop to change our flights as persuaded by everyone else. No problems there either, the flights were changed for 5 days later and we were good to go. That evening while standing on a pre determined street corner waiting for Nate, Nicola, Alex and Claire the bus form Mui Ne arrived (2 hours late) with Gene and Sarah on board waving manically at us, we escored them to the guest house and went for a beer all together. (It actually turned out ours was full as was Nates so they were in the one the other side of Nate ... but still on mini hotel alley and the owners of all three were perfectly happy for any of us to wonder in to use the 'reception desk' phone to call up to the room to demand they get ready faster) That night the two new arrivals were tired, Leanne was feeling the effects of the anti biotics and so everyone agreed to call it a night. Alex and Claire had had their bag with a very large camera stolen from the downstairs of an internet place/guest house so were also feeling a bit low - though luckily Claire had moved the passports and wallet into hers earlier. The next day Alex, Claire, Half Pint, Nate and Nicola went to a water park and Sarah Gene Leanne and I were off to the Cu Chi Tunnels at 8am.

Posted by eralc 18:58 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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