Our next stop was Quy Nhon. We knew it was off the tourist’s beaten track as we had real trouble trying to find transport to get us there when we tried to book the night before. We eventually found a small transport office (after trying about 10 others that all looked at us like we were crazy) and the guy said there was a mini bus that would be going at 1pm. With the time to kill before we left, we decided to go for a walk along the beach in Nha Trang. The beach had beautiful white sand with clear blue sea and was lined with strange statues.
At 12:30 we went back to our hotel where we waited to be picked up, when the man from the ticket office turned up on his motorbike and said come with me. We were baffled – where was the mini bus we’d booked? He flagged down a taxi and told us to get in, saying he would be going with us to the bus station. It was only a 10-minute journey to the bus station and when we arrived the ticket guy ran into the ticket office. He came out and said this bus is full, you have to wait until 2pm for the next one. We asked him what happened to the mini bus and he said no mini bus today, just bus. This should’ve been our sign that no one went to Quy Nhon, but it was too late now, we’d paid and booked our hotel. He sat us down somewhere and ran off again. This time he came back with a ticket in his hand saying we could get on the 1pm bus. Feeling confused, but relieved we wouldn’t have to wait, we jumped on the bus with all the locals. On the plus side, a local bus meant that we wouldn’t be making any stops at souvenir shops or for toilet beaks, like all the tourist buses do. Barry made a new friend on the bus – a baby with a very grown up face. He just sat there the whole time staring at Barry. I think it’s the beard – no one has that much facial hair in Asia!
After around 6 hours, we arrived in Quy Nhon. It was dark so we couldn’t see much of what it had to offer, but our hotel – Y Linh Hotel, seemed nice enough. We had splashed out and got the VIP suite – another sign that this was not for tourists as it was so cheap (£13)! We dumped our stuff and went to look for something to eat. Not wanting to go to far, we stopped at a café next door to the hotel. We sat down and the guy said ‘can I help you?’ We said we just wanted something to eat and he replied saying ‘we only have a Vietnamese dish Banh Beo, is that ok?’ We had no idea what that was, but were too hungry to look elsewhere so just went along with it. Within seconds he returned with a dish that looked like hard-boiled egg whites covered in bread crumbs, which we’ve since found out was actually rice pancakes.
The next morning we decided to go for a walk around the town. There was nothing in particular to do in Quy Nhon, but there was a temple and one or two museums so we thought we’d just go for a look around. Our hotel was right opposite the beach, but whilst the pictures make it look lovely, in reality the sea was black and so polluted. There was no one on it, which showed that not even the locals took advantage of it. There were dozens of fishing boats and this town was meant to have amazing seafood, but given the sea was so black, this really put us off trying it. Along the way we found the locals drying out their produce on mats in the street – one had hundreds of tiny fish. Right at the end of the beach, was a giant statue which we had read you could go inside and walk to the top where you could peer out the statues eyes. Although it looked like a really long way, we decided to venture towards it as there was not much else to do. As we got near to it, we noticed that the beach stopped before it got to it and what looked like a town was surrounding it. We turned off the beach and down some back streets to get to it, but the street was blocked off. We checked google maps to see how we could reach it and after almost about 40 minutes of walking, realised that the statue was actually on a separate island – doh!!
As we walked the streets, it was like a ghost town, not just for the lack of tourists but also because it was ‘Tet’ – Vietnamese New Year and as it wasn’t a tourist destination, most locals shut up their businesses and went away. We did see a group of lads hanging out on their motorcycles. One shouted out hello to us and Barry shouted back ‘Xin Chao’, (we had been told by our guide in Nha Trang that this was hello). All the boys cracked up laughing. We thought this was strange and made us doubt that this did actually mean hello – what if we’d just insulted him?
The main site to see was the Long Khanh Pagoda. It homed a 17 metre high Buddha and some mosaic dragons with broken glass for their manes. There were lots of shrines and funky looking trees and it was all decorated, no doubt for Tet.
And that for us, was Quy Nhon.