Hi all. So, we arrived in Denang after a sleepless ride on the night bus, where the driver smoked and played loud music until half 11 at night, and started blasting it again at 5 in the morning, we were fuming. So anyway, we arrived, tired and grumpy, we got straight in a taxi to go to our hotel, when we arrived the taxi driver wouldn't give us our change as he said he had to keep it,of course we were like no, give us our change, after a bit of bickering he finally agreed to give us OUR change, how good of him! So we checked in at the hotel, the man on reception was so moody and didn't speak a word of English instead of going to get someone who did, as we later found out there was people that worked there who spoke decent English, he just struggled through the check in procedure, but eventually we managed to get our room key. So it was around 8 o clock in the morning, and we decided first thing was first, we needed to get stuff washed, we each had around 1 pair of pants left, so we went downstairs to see if our hotel did laundry, however, the guy did not have a clue what we were talking about, so we traipsed around this town we didn't know where barely anyone spoke English, looking for somewhere to get our clothes washed, after around 45 minutes,we gave up and headed back to the hotel, where two different girls were behind the desk, so I just double checked with them if they did laundry, turned out they did, we were fuming! So it was then off the explore the town! After some lunch and getting a general idea of the area, we stumbled across a travel agents. We'd already looked up online stuff to do in Denang, and there wasn't a lot, however, one thing was the huge cable car, so we booked a very expensive tour for the next day to go to see the mountain with the cable car.p thinking it would be brilliant. However, we still had th rest of e day to so something, so he offered us another tour for that evening, which entailed going to see the 'Marble Mountain', the name is rather self explanatory, and then it was off to Hoi An, the next town across, to see the market. So we booked it, and headed back to our hotel to get sorted before the car picked us up. About an hour later, a small Vietnamese woman not much older than me introduced herself as our tour guide, she then drove us to marble mountain, where she zoomed around the mountain and pagodas way too quickly, we also didn't see everything there was to see, and she didn't have great English, so starting to think we perhaps shouldn't have been so hasty with booking tours, we headed back to the car to go to Hoi An. She then started telling us about clothes shops and tailors and how she could get stufif for 1/3 of the price that we would pay. So I asked her if she could take us to some of the clothes shops in Hoi An to get a cheaper price, she said yes of course. So thinking we are going to little cheap clothes shops like hey have on the market, we pull up next to a very posh expensive looking tailors, and she says, these people will take care of you, and she and he driver buggered off to get a coffee. So we were ushered inside this expensive tailors, where it was quite obvious we wouldn't be able to afford anything, the suits started at £200, so they sit us down, each of us had a woman dealing with us, however, Sean's woman might aswell have just sat on his knee she was that close to him, I'm pretty sure she wanted to, she flirted with him the whole time! So we were each given a catalogue to point out what we liked, and then given free drinks which we didn't drink as we both knew we weren't going to buy anything, anyway, after much embarrassment we admitted we just wanted to have a look, and we'd have a think and come back tomorrow, it was mortifying! I didn't ask her to take us to anywhere again after that! So we were then taken to the market along the river, she escorted us around, where she said she could get things cheaper for us, and bartered (very badly) for us, so we bought some mugs that are gorgeous! It was then time for her to leave, thank god! We couldn't enjoy ourselves as everything we picked up she said oh no that's not good quality and would take us to a really expensive place to buy something from there instead! So anyway, she FINALLY left and we could enjoy the market by ourselves, and it was amazing! We bought loads of bits and pieces, but it wasn't so much the stuff that was there, it was the setting of this beautiful market that was so amazing, it was along a river, with old french style houses, painted different shades of pastel merging into one long row, with shabby shutters pinned open revealing light in the early evening. After we'd done a bit of shopping, we decided to go and get a drink, where we realised we'd spent all of our money! It was a bit of a nightmare, we managed to find a cash point, but my card had been blocked because I had used it too many times in one day, luckily Sean's worked, but we still didn't have enough to get dinner so we just got a drink, so Sean sat drinking mugs of beer that weren't even a make, it just said 'local beer, 5000' which was around 10p a pint, yes Sean was loving life! I sat and had a cup of tea and we watched old ladies selling sweets, kids running and chasing each other up the river bank, it was just gorgeous, so dusk started to settle, and a few at a time, lanterns started to illuminate this small riverside town, I'm not kidding, it was like the scene out of tangled as they started to put floating lanterns down the river, we each paid about 10p to put one in, it was stunning, with little gondola type boats floating down the river you would never have believed we were in Vietnam! So anyway, it was time to head home, and our tour guide had said that we just needed to ring the driver on the number she had given us and he would come and collect us, however, when we tried to ring him, Sean's phone couldn't get signal and mine had 2% battery! obviously not enough to phone someone. So it was around 8 o clock, pitch black, and over an hours drive away from Denang, where we were staying, and we had no money, we slightly started to panic. In the end we walked into a restaurant and explained the situation, and so he rang our driver and everything was fine, we were so grateful to this guy! About 5 mins later our driver was outside the restaurant and we were on our way back! Marble mountain was quite rubbish, but we were so glad we got to go down to Hoi An, it was beautiful!
The next morning, we got picked up at 8 ready to go on our tour to the cable car, we jumped in and we were with around 7 other people, it was about a 40 minute drive to the cable car. We arrived at a stunning setting, a grand water fountain in the entrance of the drive way and flowers and exotic plants dotted around, so we had a quick wander around, looking in the shop and then it was time to head up to the cable car. Now Sean had looked this cable car up on Trip Advisor and from what people had put it was made out to be like a National Trust type place, so we were excited to go and see the Pagodas (Temples) and giant Buddhas and other interesting things, there was about 3 levels to this cable car, different things at different ones, so the first level was meant to be where there was a huge lady Buddha, and also a wine French wine cellar from when the French had invaded, and a few out her bits and pieces, on the way up in the cable car (which was incredible, only jungle beneath us!) she made out to us that we could have about 45 mins to explore this level of the cable car, and would meet back to go up to the next level, which sounded great to us, as we're anti social and don't like to be in a tour group! However, we got up there, and she spoke to one of the security men and without telling us what was going on, ushered us back into the cable car to take us up to the next level, so we didn't see anything on that level, we literally walked off one cable car, onto another. Well ok, fine, perhaps we misunderstood her... So we got the cable car up to the next level, where we started to ascend into clouds we were so high up, however through the clouds was what looked like an old French style castle, we looked at each other, obviously thrilled as we didn't realise there was a castle on the side of the hill. However, the further we got up, the more it looked like a castle out of Disney world, when we finally arrived, she said "ok, you now have 2 hours to go around fantasy land and then we'll meet back at 11.30 for lunch", we both looked at each other as if to say "what the hell is fantasy land?!", so we started to walk up, and no word of a lie, it looked like a construction site, this park was huge but we could only go in a tiny bit as the rest was under construction, so we followed everyone else inside this castle, and literally it opened up into a huge arcade, we were speechless, and so gutted, we'd spent so much money on this trip, thinking it was like a heritage site, and the first level was shut! So we walked around screaming children trying to get on rides, so fed up, knowing we had the rest of the day on this stupid trip! Anyway, we decided to make the most of it, so had a look at some of the rides, and it soon became evident we had to pay for virtually everything, the on,y things that were free was dodgems, a maze, and a Dr. Doom type ride. So we decided to go in the maze, but instead of it being a maze with solid walls, the walls were made of glass, so it looks like you can walk through, however, it's just glass at the end, a great idea in theory, so we went around once, where we started to slightly speed walk to beat each other, now I would tell you who won, but we aren't allowed to discuss it, because I am genuinely adamant I won, and Sean is adamant he won (we've already had about 3 arguments over it), so we aren't allowed to talk about the outcomes!! So anyway, it was hilarious, so a bit later on, we decided to do it again but have a race, so we're sprinting around this maze, the only two people in it, a few people have actually gathered to laugh at us, eventually 'one of us' won, and it was once again hilarious, pushing each other into glass walls and running as fast as we could. However, the absolute highlight of my day was when we did the maze the third and final time, but decided to do it backwards as we already knew the route the front way, so there we are properly sprinting around this maze, and every so often I hear a violent bang coming from somewhere else, when I look over it's Sean's hands slamming into glass, as he wasn't graceful enough to just feel for the glass, he had to slam into it, so we're then running next to each other, glass separating us, when I turn to look at Sean at exactly the moment where he thinks there is an opening but infect is still glass, and runs full pelt into the glass, nose first, his head literally ricocheting off the glass with such force, he falls backwards onto his bum, I of course fall about laughing and try to find my way around to him, when I did, his nose had ballooned in size in about 30 seconds, and it was bright red and had a cut on it, it was absolutely hilarious!! I literally couldn't stop laughing long enough to ask him if he was ok! So as crappy as out trip was this well and truly made both of our days, we came out of the maze laughing so much we couldn't stand up, we were holding onto each other for support, which was even worse!! So much of the afternoon was spent in a giant arcade on the side of a mountain, we then had a buffet lunch was was alright, and then after lunch our tour guide said we would be going up to the highest level to see another giant Buddha and pagodas, great we though, finally some cultural stuff. However, when it was time to meet her she said that it was closed and we wouldn't be able to go up, so we were to spend the rest of the afternoon in the arcade, suffice to say we were fuming! Luckily, there was another little area wi pagodas and a viewing platform that we could go to, so she took us and another couple up, but it was rubbish, the only good thing was that we were so high up we were in the clouds, and we could see them rolling up towards us, it was amazing. So overall he day was a massive disappointment, not what we thought we'd booked at all! But we made the most of it, and actually ended up laughing the whole day because we were in such a silly mood after Sean pretty much broke his nose hehe.
So we arrived back in Denang, and did A LOT of shopping, much to Sean's dismay, so after a few days in Denang, where there wasn't much to do, we decided to move on, I found his national park that was meant to be incredible, but all the people online said it was a bit isolated and difficult to get to, but we decided to give it a go. So we started on our journey, we had to get a mini bus to a place 5 hours away, we then arrived at about 7 o clock, and then get on a sleeper bus to the national park, we arrived at Phong Nha at around midnight, and the bus literally dropped is in the middle of a deserted street in the pitch black, we were like ok.... Luckily there was a guy from a tourist information place helping us, so he told us where our hotel was and we arrived within a few minutes, so as soon as we got there, we booked a tour to Phong Nha Cave and Paradise Cave for the next day, suffice to say we were knackered, so went to bed ready for our pick up at 8.00 the next morning.
Our tour to the caves was incredible the next day!! We had about 20 other people in our group, one of the girls spoke the biggest load of tripe, and literally didn't shut up, honestly, she made me and Grandad Bob seem like mutes she was that bad!! But anyway, we arrived at the pier, and took slender wooden boats up the river and into the cave where they turned the engines off and rowed, this underground river was the largest in the world up until about 2007 I think it was, I'm pretty sure they said it was 30Km long, but we only went about 1km in, it was incredible, the cave was lit tastefully so it wasn't overbearing, just enough to accentuate the features, there was stalactites and stalagmites dotted around, and apparently if they dripped on you it was really good luck, we were dripped on A LOT! We have loads of pictures of the underground river and cave, it was then onto Paradise Cave which is the largest cave in Asia, and it was incredible, we had to climb down rickety wooden stairs to get to it. So overall it was a brilliant day, we were absolutely shattered when we got back to the hotel, so quickly had something to eat and then headed to bed. The next day, we hired a moped and just spent the day going around the National Park, it was lovely! So after a great time in Phong Nha National park, it was then off to Hanoi, so we got on our sleeper bus, where we were put in the beds next to the toilet where it STANK of putrid pee, it was like acid kicking you in the back of your throat, it was truly an awful ride! But anyway, we arrived in Hanoi, however, I'll save Hanoi and Halong Bay for the next blog as I feel you'll all probably need a break after this rather long boring blog update! Speak soon
Aimee and Sean xxx