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SHORT BACK (and sides) MOUNTAIN

The Seas are alive with the sound of music

30 °C

PS: I cant seem to get the letter that comes betưeen v and X so I am úsing Ư instead

I is now a week since the hairdresser misinterpreted "can you cut it quite short?" to mean "can you please shave it of completely so that my scalp becomes a bright red lollipop under the sun". An easy mistake to make. My scalp though há progressed from totally bald, to Bhuddist Monk stubble, to convict to military cut. I quite like it now .

On 9th November (follicular massacre day) I took an overnight bus to the Seaside town of Nha Trang. Quite a built up but thankfully none of the tackiness that comes with many of the European Anglosised resorts. Golden fine sandy beaches snake round the coastline, interrupted by some fascinating rock formations. Unfortunately there is a lot of litter on the beach at the moment caused by the recent Typoon. To seek cleaner beaches I toôk a 4 island boat tour. Unfortunately the sophistication police were not at hand that day. The Vietnamese unfurtunately suffer from the verbal disease that spread initially from Japan 20 odd years ago. Thêre is yet no known cure from kảreoke othẻr than removal òf the vocal cords. Every other bar or hotel boasts about thêse talent dodging contests. Thêre is no répite even at sea!

Our on board tour guide, despite not being able to sing a note, did have an amazing repotoir of international sóngs. He ưent ảround the boat asking for people to join him in a rendition of their native song. To my astonishment he new populảr Korean, Japenêse and Israli songs. He did however stretch the definition of a national song. Somehow Yellow Submarine became Canadian. I was waiting for him to ask me and I was prepared to come up with a fake nationality - from Lichtenstein or San Marino, Suriname or Andora. Fortunately he didn't even ask me. If he had he probably would have known a 19th cẻntury Sea Shanty from land Locked Andora.

One travel fad came out of Vietnam about 15 years ago. This is the Easy Rider tour. This is based on what I consider to be a very over rated cult film ưith Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda basically going on a road trip getting stoned. This is a clean and sobẻr version. This is where you travel pillion style and the driver/guide takes you on an often off the beaten path tour of the coutnry. This can be a one day trip or evern I have heard a 21 day trip. I decided to go for a 2 day trip. I chose a guide who spoke very good English and who worked for a reputable company. He came up with a suggested itinery that included a one night stay by a lake in in the Central Highlands. This is an area that I dub the lake district of Vietnam.

So I was taken around winding coutry roads and major roads. We stopped at Coffee plantations, tea plantations, small sillk factories (from silk worm to finished garment in one location), small clay brick making factories, shrimp farms, fishing villages specialising in cuttle fish. We flew by some stunning scenery. Some of the hills were curiously as bald as my head. This it was explained was the effects of agent orange - over 35 years on whole patches of forrest devoured of vegitation. I was even introduced to one of the only divorced women in rural Vietnam. Despite being hemôrrhoid inducing bum it was a good experience and Son (my guide) was very informative and good company. We sank a few beers together on the first night.

Son dropped me off in Dalat. At an elevation of about 1500 metres it is one of the coldest spots in Vietnam. All that meáns is that you don''t need a fan or AC - just a thin blanket. In the evening though a thin sweater will do for me although the locals are often dressed in arctic attire. In Dalat I did a bit of sight seeing , went on a cable car ride and did a one day walk. The scenery is very European with the many pine forrests. Tigers had however inhabited thêse hills á recently as 50 years ago although conflict had killed them off. Thêre are also stories that the locals killed them as they posed a threat. Apparently King Cobras were however still part òf the wildlife population according to one of the trekking guides who told me that he encountered one during a waterfall walk.

Conflict had also largely destroyed the local railưay line. There ís though a short 8km run still functioning as a tourist attraction. This only runs if there are enoough customers. Myself and 2 retired Australians endered up chartering a single carraige old diesel train for about 15 quid between us. Now that is something that you get to do much.

Last night I took an overnight bus to sprawling, noisy Saigon. I have crossed about half a dozen roads today and the stress of it takes it out of you. I bumped into this English chap Hastings who I had first met in Holong bay. We are going to hit china town tonight to recover from traffic trauma. The day after next I will embark effectively on a 5 day trip (mainly by boat) to Cambodia.

Over and out.

We flew by some stunning scenery.

Posted by gavinbose 04:41 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking

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