Central Vietnam

Aug 10

Vin Pearl, Where Dreams Are Made

Day 41 – 24th April

Nha Trang – Vin Pearl

Nha Trang has several islands of its coast line, the largest of which is called Vin Pearl; an island of fun in immense proportions! Not only does it have a massive water park, including a a lazy river, an aquarium, and also a theme park section complete with arcades. It costs 300,000 Dong (around a tenner) for the whole caboodle…yes that includes the arcades…happy days.

We spent the morning in the water park frolicking around, by the way health and safety would have had a field day at this place, hitting up ride after ride. Eventually we headed over to the wave pole, and bobbed up and down in some tubes, until Als ruined the fun for everyone and smashed his head on the bottom of the pool. Blood was gushing from his head as soon as he stood up so he got carted off to the medic asap.

The medic just happened to be the most angry/depressed nurse I have ever come across. She made Als lie on the bed facing left so she could look at his cut, if he moved his head so much as a fraction her hand would come crashing down on his face until his head was in the ‘correct’ position once more. He kept trying to talk to me asking how it looked, when ever he uttered a sound the nurse would get really angry and unleash a flurry of angry Vietnamese until he shut up…I was really enjoying it.

Then came the time for stitches, normally its me that gets injured so I was relishing watching someone else (especially Als) getting fixed up. Soon my enjoyment turned into pity however. The nurse had the shakes big time and so asked me to help her out with the stitching so I got a close up view. I’ve never seen anyone be so vicious with stitches, if she was sewing cloth it would have been ripped to shreds, luckily it was Al’s head to it held together…just. She’d jab the needle in hard, wiggle it around for good measure, and then use some form of pliers to rip it out the other side of the cut. Als was making some very entertaining pain noises at this point which the nurse did not appreciate. Even I didn’t want to see Als go through this. Six stitches later and a lot of pain he was all fixed up at which point the nurse kept feeding him pill after pill after pill. Thirty minutes later he was absolutely flying.

Since Als could no longer go in the water we decided to hit up the aquarium which was awesome. It had loads of tanks to start with full of eels, weird dinosaur fish, sharks and even the odd sting ray. It also had a massive tankĀ  with a tunnel going through which was incredible.

Next was the theme park area that had the worlds smallest roller coaster, swingey spinney chair things, a ride that spins really first in several directions at once, a pirate ship and a bike that you could cycle round in vertical loops. Hours of fun.

If you ever go to Nha Trang make sure you stop in at Vin Pearl.

Aug 10

Whores and Karaoke

Day 38 – 21st April to Day 40 – 23rd April

Nha Trang

It was awesome to have finally made it to Nha Trang so we treated ourselves to a steak at the local Texas steak house. The steak was over priced and not that tasty really but you live and learn. Alec dared me to drink the rest of the bottle of Tabasco (a couple of shots worth) and he would pay for my steak. Obviously I stepped up to the challenge and spent the next few hours feeling pretty wrong, but I did get my steak paid for me.

Nha Trang was quite a large built up city with high risers all over the place. It had an amazing beach with a really warm sea which we spent much time frolicking in.

Nha Trang was completely geared up for the backpacking community and was positively teething with bars selling cheap buckets left right and center. It was also home to the ‘Sailing Club’, the main club in town. Although it was right on the beach (pretty cool), it was completely full of whores who were very persistent. Luckily we were all sober enough to fight them off everytime we went there, which is an accomplishment in itself.

Nha Trang is also home to the legendary booze cruise, where you pay 300,000 Dong (around a tenner) and drink and eat all you can…brilliant. We booked up instantly but unfortunately not enough people signed up and it was canceled. We did however meet a Canadian lady who turned out to be a professional Blackjack player, she only works 12 times a year…bitch! Anyway she showed us a local karaoke house attached to a club. We sucked at karaoke (surprise, surprise) but we did manage to score 99% (by the computer) at Dust in the Wind, Kansas.

I manged to fit some cultrual stuff in to our hectic shedule and visited the Long Son Pagoda where there is a massive Buddha lying down and then another massive Buddha sitting on the highest point in Nha Trang…very impressive.

I also went to check out the Cham ruins of Po Nagar which were pretty cool considering they were built 781. Some of the buildings were massive and covered in intricate brick work, unfortunately a lot of it had hasn’t survived the years.

Aug 10

Uh Oh, More Piston Problems?

Day 37 – 20th April

Chu Se – Nha Trang

It was a bit of a nightmare ride at first, the HCM trail got really busy and the scenery was less exciting. We had left early at 8 in the morning, by 11.00 we had covered a fair bit of ground and decided to stop off and grab a coffee in Pleiku. To be honest it wasn’t that nice a city so we drank the coffee and scarpered.

Thankfully the road changed after Pleiku, it was a complete change of scenery, instead of the intense jungle littered all over the many mountains. It changed to gently rolling hills with intense farming, thankfully the hills weren’t too steep so I could build up some speed again and enjoy the twisting roads.

We stopped at some point to enjoy some fresh local cordial, the locals who sold us it failed to inform us it was concentrate and being the dumb idiots that we are, we only figured it out towards the end of the bottle. We left on a complete sugar rush and I must have been pushing the speed a little too much because suddenly my engine made a bang and the back wheel locked up (very similar to what happened to my bike when leaving Hoi An). I pulled over and let the engine cool down, poured a crap load of oil in the tank and hoped for the best…low and behold it started. I drove very tentatively the rest of the way to Nha Trang.

Eventually we made it to the coast, which was absolutely stunning, and finally rolled into Nha Trang a “Civilized and Friendly destination” as the sign under the bridge informatively told us.

We had made it to Nha Trang!!! Finally!

Aug 10

Blast The Piston

Day 36 – 19th April

Kham Duc to Chu Se

We were all set to try and get to Nha Trang in one day so we all got up early, grabbed some food, loaded up the bikes, and started them up. All of them but Alec’s. I have no idea what happened but we had defiantly fixed it the night before and now it wasn’t working. Maybe the hotel owners sabotaged it to try and make us stay another night, I have no idea. So off went Alec’s bike and we started the trouble finding “Algorithm”. Two hours later we still couldn’t figure it out, we had changed the electric box, the spark plug, the HT lead, we had even taken the carb apart and gave it a good cleaning but still the f***** wouldn’t start. The hotel owner saw us struggling and called in some of his boys who were fellow Minsk owners, they bashed around the bike for a bit with a hammer and somehow (I have no idea how) got her started. We were ready to roll.

The next part of the journey was very mountainous with a lot of fun twisty roads, we were all thoroughly looking forward to it. Remember at this time as was riding Ben’s bike (which hadn’t been tested on the mountainous roads) and low and behold it failed. Well it didn’t entirely fail it just went very, very slowly (I put it down to piston issues), Nha Trang was not going to happen today. On the plus side the downhills were amazing and we were treated to some stunning views, you gotta love the HCM trail (thats another lesson for the Top Gear boys; stay of the 1A and get on the HCM trail).

We eventually made it to a largish town (Chu Se) that had a hotel, just before dark so we decided to stay. Just as we came into the town the heavens opened and completely soaked us. No bother, we thought we’ll just head to the hotel and hide. I should explain that Chu Se is a town that doesn’t see many Westerners so as soon as we pulled up to the hotel you could literally see the $ signs rolling in the owners eyes. I can’t remember how much he was trying to charge us but it was extortionate, the hotel owner swore there was no other hotel in town bu we decided to look all the same.

An hour later we still hadn’t found anywhere, thankfully some locals saw us looking a little lost and came over to see what was up. Alleluia, one of them new a place we could stay and jumper on his scooter to show us the way. He stopped outside a furniture shop and spoke to the owner, we were then whisked down a side alley and it to the back of the shop where they had several rooms…we would never have found this place! I’m pretty sure this was not your standard accommodation, looking at the posters on the wall (ladies in lingerie), and the few ladies walking about it was probably a brothel. But it was cheap so we didn’t care. We unpacked the bikes and then went to find some food.

We stumbled upon an awesome restaurant where you get this gas burner and a massive pot of water, they then bring out loads of veg, meat, and seafood which all goes in. It was delicious. As I said this was a small town so everyone was positivly thrilled to meet us especially one Vietnamese man (who frankly scared the crap out of me) who took it upon himself to get us drunk on his home brew which tasted like a combination of bad vodka and cheap tequila, lovely!

Despite a small hangover we manged to get up early the next day, we were defiantly going to make it to Nha Trang.

Aug 10

In Anh We Trust???

Day 35 – 18th April

Hoi An to Kham Duc

It was time to move on, Ben and Laura had flown off and Nick and Frazer were heading North. Our next destination was Nha Trang but it was going to take at least two days to get there via the HCM trail. We got about an hour out of Hoi An after a really bumpy dirt section of road when, you guessed it, we had our first break down of the day. Els’s bike just died and refused to go anywhere, by now we were pretty competent at fixing the Minsks for we had had a lot of practice. In Joel’s words “We followed the algorithm” and with in an hour had identified and fixed the problem.

All very happy with ourselves for fixing the bike we decided to head on…but oh no…Alec’s bike no refused to start. We spent another hour trying to fix his bike but with a storm bearing down on us we decided to tow it until we got to the next town were we would spend more time fixing it. The fun never stops!

We finally made it to Kham Duc, in the dark, it was a pretty small town that doesn’t see many westerners so everyone was thrilled to see us. We wanted to fix Als’s bike that night so we could try and get to Nha Trang the next day. So in the pitch black after about an hour we manged to get his bike back up and running…hurray for us!