Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Amazing Vietnam (Quy Nhon and Hoi An)!

The trip to Quy Nhon was supposed to be 4-5 hours. What a ride! As the only passengers, we were sitting next to the driver because there was absolutely no leg space at the back. Our driver and his assistant decided to have lunch 15 minutes after the start. So here we were in one of the busy roads in Vietnam trying to pass the time. After half an hour, we were on our way again. Our driver was nice but he thought he was a Formula 1 pilot. 

There aren't many highways in Vietnam. A small road is used by cars, motorcycles and bicycles which requires extreme caution. Our driver was driving like a maniac while we were panicking next to him. His response to our screams was with laughter and statements like “no worry” "I good driver" which obviously did not help much. 

Thankfully 2 hours later, we stopped in a coffee plantation where they loaded around 50 bags of coffee beans which weighed, I guess, 50 kg each. By the way, did you know that Vietnam became number the second coffee producer in the world beating Colombia? Of course, Brazil is still number one. Vietnamese produce high quality coffee indeed!

With more than half of the minibus full of coffee beans, our driver could not speed any longer which made us extremely happy. Of course, it did not take very long to get a flat tire due to the heavy load. We had to wait another 45 minutes for them to change the tire and were able to continue our interesting trip. Along the way, we also picked up 8 more passengers (luckily no chickens), so there was absolutely no space at all. After 8 hours of excitement, shock and danger, we were very happy to arrive in Quy Nyon in one piece.

Quy Nyon is a beautiful coastal town. It is an ideal place to wind down for a day or two. It is not touristy at all and we were able to meet lots of remarkable people. Meeting locals adds a whole different flavour to the travel experience. You get to understand their culture much better and can establish beautiful connections.

Warm hearted nuns of Quy Nyon
After a good rest in our nice hotel, we walked around the city the whole day and met two old Vietnamese nuns who could not speak any English. Somehow we managed to communicate with them and found out that one of them was 84 years old. Their eyes were shining with light and compassion. They guided us through their pagoda and invited us for lunch. Some of the younger nuns joined us as well. 

During lunch, our new friends tried to teach us some Vietnamese which obviously did not work out very well. It is a difficult language, however our poor pronunciation made them laugh out loud. It was a unique experience to connect with these lovely people. After spending 2 hours we left the pagoda. I am amazed by the hospitality and friendliness of the Vietnamese people.

School kids in Quy Nyon
Every day on the road comes with infinite possibilities which makes life interesting. When we create a routine to feel secure, we tend to reject the synchronicities of life. I am not suggesting that each one of us needs to start travelling around the world (which is great by the way), but just be open to the flow of life. Maybe a person sitting next to you on the bus has a message that you need to hear. Trust the process of life and have faith that everything will work out perfectly. Let go of your fears and connect with people around you. 

On the streets of Quy Nhon
Just to give you an example of how I lived before: In Sydney, we lived in the same apartment complex of 25 flats for over 4 years and ironically we did not know many of our neighbours. When I saw them in the building, there was this awkward moment. The conversation was mostly limited to a “hi” or “nice day isn't it?” I think I was too afraid not to come across as a strange guy or maybe doubted myself thinking do I have anything interesting to say. When I reflect back on those days, I wish I was brave enough to make more connections. Human connection is the spice of life and who knows where each relation will that take you! 
After a beautiful day in Quy Nyon, we caught a private bus to Hoi An. This time the ride was a little better but our driver speeded insanely as well! Maybe it is a cultural thing for Vietnamese drivers. Luckily, we arrived safely at our destination (once again).

Beautiful lights in Hoi An

Hoi An became one of my favourite spots. It's world heritage listed by UNESCO and you easily understand why when you see the beautiful historical architecture. Old houses from many centuries ago are kept in their original style and the atmosphere brings you back in time. In addition, the old town turns into a magical light show with multicoloured lanterns at night. We were lucky to be there during the 60+ Earth Hour on the 23rd of March where people released colourful candles into the river when the lights were off. What a spectacle! You can easily spend 4-5 days in this amazing place.

Candles in the river
The next day, we joined a bike tour with one of the local companies. Our Vietnamese guides, who spoke good English and French, were informative and fun. Doing excursions gives you a deeper understanding of the history and culture. As a bonus, you get to meet lots of interesting people from all around the world, a perfect way of getting valuable information on places to visit. Everybody has a different story to share and most of the time they provide the best travel tips. So don’t be shy, get out there and talk to people.

Our bike tour group riding a boat
The following day, we rented some bicycles and visited two different beaches around Hoi An. In one of the beaches, I rode a jet-ski for the first time in my life. YAY! I highly recommend to do it in Hoi An as the prices are very cheap. I paid $20 for 15 minutes. The same day, we tasted some great Vietnamese dishes at the Cargo Club. They also had the best deserts in town in case you have a sweet tooth

If you like tailor made clothes, this place will be your heaven. There are many shops where you can get any type of clothing, including shoes, done within a couple of days for a reasonable price. As travellers we neither had the budget nor the space in our luggage to get tailor made clothes, but it was definitely worth to visit these shops. 

Streets of Hoi An
On our last day, we visited My Son where the Cam Ruins are located. We travelled by an organised bus tour as the ruins are far away from the centre. The ruins were almost completely destroyed. We could understand only half of what our guide was saying due to his heavy accent. You can definitely live without seeing these ruins, so don’t waste your time!

Overall, Hoi An was fantastic. Lovely architecture, magnificent colours, friendly people, good beaches, great food, and chilled vibes. A must see in Vietnam.


  1. Great pics and great story! Vietnam is definitely in my list of places to visit.

    1. Thank you for your comment Nicla. It is a beautiful country to visit. If you need any more tips, please let me know.