Having had a much earlier night, we were all up early and ready to be collected to travel over the Hải Vân Pass to Huế. We had booked a private car a few days previously so were very surprised to see a minibus parked up outside our hotel to collect us.
Taking a row of seats each we enjoyed spreading out with the air conditioning blowing for the half hour journey to the outskirts of Đà Nẵng and the Marble Mountains.
Feeling no worse from the kerb side banh mi from the night before, we woke up to the stifling heat and humidity of Hội An as we headed out to explore the old town. First stop was to Be Be Tailor 3, to upgrade the wardrobe before going home. An hour later, we left having picked our material and had our measurements taken, 20 in total for Craig's suit!
We were up with a pretty early alarm, checked out (by handing the keys to the lovely pool cleaner, who didn't understand a word of English) and strapped our bags on for the walk along the road to the Sinh Tourist office for our bus. Thankfully, the bus wasn't anywhere near full so we were able to spread out a little in hopes of maybe getting a nap. For once the bus actually left not just on time but early! It was a pretty bumpy ride so all hopes of a nap were dashed but we both had plenty podcasts downloaded to keep us going. 4 hours later, we arrived in to Đà Lạt on time and happily walked in the cool mountain air to our hotel, the Roy Dala Hotel.
So, we have certainly been on our fair share of public transport on this trip but the train journey between Ga Sài Gòn and Bình Thuận station was just a little bit different! We left Ho Chi Minh City at 11:40 and the first 2 hours of the journey east were uneventful but then we slowed. Suddenly, we pulled into a siding and stopped. All was quiet. We looked at each other. And Then. Katy leapt out of her seat! The 2 TV's had begun playing Vietnamese/communist propaganda. We clearly can't speak, read (apart from Bo means beef) or write it but the videos were enough to illustrate their point! The green soldiers marching beside tanks and military vehicles along with farmers in the rice paddies and the occasional image of Uncle Ho Chi Minh himself!
After an early alarm, we took a Grab on the hour long journey to the airport. We arrived in plenty time, got checked in, through security and found ourselves a spot to sit until our gate opened. Our flight was fairly uneventful and less than 2 hours later we arrived into Ho Chi Minh City. We breezed through immigration, the beauty of eVisas, and our bags were some of the first off the plane. Even more convenient was when the company who sold us a SIM card did taxi's as well!
Arriving at our hotel, Giang Son 3, we were greeted with a fairly dark and dingy room. We dumped our bags and headed out for some food and found ourselves a table at Maya Bar & Lounge. Embracing the fact we were now in Vietnam, Craig tried the Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) and Katy had the Vietnamese beef steak. Both were delicious!
After lunch we headed back to the room to plan out the next few days and get a couple of tours booked for our time here. After an afternoon of planning we ventured back out for some dinner and the street we were staying on had transformed. We felt like we had been transported to the strip in Malia. Turns out we had inadvertently booked ourselves onto "Backpacker Street" - oops! Embracing it, we headed for dinner and a few drinks, hoping that the alcohol would put us to sleep so that the ridiculously loud music didn't keep us awake! (Are we getting old?!)