We had spent the day before at “Vinpearl Land”, an amusement park and waterpark built on an island just off the coast from Nha Trang. Our feet were thankful for the rest after a long day spent amusing ourselves at Vinpearl Land. We had a blast at the park, enjoying our favorite rides over and over again as the park wasn’t very busy and headed home in the dark. We left all of our cameras at home, so I don’t have any pictures to show for the day, but if you ever find yourself in Nha Trang with an 11 year old and a 9 year old, make a plan to spend some time there. For $30 US per person for the entire day, including the cable car to the island, it was definitely worth the price of admission. Teens might find the rides pretty tame, but for younger kids the day was perfect.
We boarded the train early, at 5 am so we got to see the sun come up as we traveled peacefully along the coast, then inland along rice fields and through small towns. It was so interesting exploring the train’s different coaches, moving from the dining car, to the coaches with hard wooden seats full of Vietnamese travelers and their children, to the coaches with softer seats and AC (we chose the softer seats for the 9 hour journey!), to the sleeper coaches in the back of the train. Every so often, different food carts and drinks carts would come along, so our bellies were never empty. I think Evan and I were able to really relax on the train, as its speed was constant, there was no overtaking, no honking and Jamey and Becca found it a pretty neat and comfortable way to travel.
We arrived in the early afternoon to Hoi An, a lovely small town on the delta, about 5 km from the ocean. We pulled up to the guesthouse we had booked and found these friends sharing our accomodation. How could we not fall in love?
We used to look for accomodations that had swimming pools…now after 5 days at Mina Le Villa in Hoi An, our search will include “do you have puppies?”. Jamey and Becca spent hours with these dogs. They were so fun to play with and developed their “barks” while we stayed at the guesthouse. We slept in the most comfortable beds we have slept in, in all of Asia. A bonus for all of us.
Our 5 days in Hoi An were wonderful. It was an easy place to be. We spent afternoons swimming in the ocean (a 10 minute motorbike ride away, or a peaceful 20 minute bike ride for me!). The waves were incredibly fun and rough, but the sea was so warm. We visited the Old City that at night is lit up with beautiful colorful lanterns. We ate more wonderful food, having found the perfect place to find our breakfast “banh mi’s”, more Indian food and shared dinner with the locals at the market. Evan rented a motorbike again, so every morning he and I ventured out early before Jamey and Becca woke up to explore the beach, the surrounding rice fields, local villages, and the river delta that is home to Hoi An. Becca and I got really good at me doubling her on bicycles that our guesthouse let us use. Jamey and I finished Chapter 2 of his math curriculum…trust me, not easy!! I am grateful and thankful to all of his teachers for their patience.
This morning as I watched a woman driving her boat full of fresh produce down the river, I was thinking about how very different our lives are to those that live in Southeast Asia, knowing that she probably makes this journey every single day to sell her produce in the market. I mentioned this to Evan and he reminded me that we are not that different after all. She is just getting into her form of transportation and heading to work. We do the same, just a different form of transportation and a different profession. “Same same” like the Vietnamese would say, but “just different” like it says on the back of the tourist t-shirts.
We left Hoi An this afternoon to spend a few days in Da Nang, another ocean side town further north. It is famous for “China Beach”, the beach where American soldiers came for R & R during the war in Vietnam. In 2 days we’ll head back to the train again to travel to a town called Hue where we will spend Evan’s birthday and explore Hue, before flying to Hanoi on October 29th. Jamey and Becca are bummed to be missing Halloween, but have planned out how to do some trick or treating with Evan and I…perhaps we’ll be surprised by Halloween festivities in Hanoi?
We miss you guys! Thanks for reading!