Day 30. Tues 6/07
Phong Nha▶Hoi An
Biking, Phong Nha Farmstay, Early bus to Hoi An
We really cant get enough of these motorbikes. We set off today after sleeping in (our room has some heavenly air con) just to ride our bikes around the national park because we had already visited the 2 caves we wanted to see. There was one more that we wanted to visit but it is the largest cave in the world and was discovered very recently by a Phong Nha local. However, to go inside you have to go on a week long trek to enter and explore the cave. You also have to complete training regarding how to climb and hike in caves. It was a couple thousand USD so we decided to pass 💸
Instead we set out to enjoy the nice weather and park scenery on the open road. We attempted to drive to the Botanical Gardens but met some gravel road and construction that we weren’t quite ready to conquer. We made a U-turn and headed out of the city to Easy Tiger’s sister hostel, a farmstay (like a homestay but on a farm) about twenty minutes away, where you could supposedly catch a really awesome view of sunset. When we arrived it was already almost 4pm (the sun sets around 6:30 here) so Kaija and I decided to hang out by the pool and get a good spot to watch the sun set while the boys explored some more of the back roads recommended by the owner of the farm (another really great Australian!). However, as we were warned, any time we were travelling off of roads we had to be extremely careful because this area was heavily bombed during the American War (what they call it here) and there were estimated to be thousands of undetonated landmines, flechettes, and other bombs in the area.
I dipped my feet in the pool to cool off and then got to enjoy a color-changing sky across a huge open field full of cows. There was also an adorable little mutt wandering around the farm, playing with visitors, barking at cows, and later also dragging his bum across the cement outside (ew, but he was still cute). We hadn’t done much but it was nice to just take an afternoon to chill and enjoy nature again.
Our afternoon was pretty opposite the boys’, as we found out once they made it back and began to share some stories from the drive. Their path was mostly dirt back roads, where they passed loads of cows and other farm animals with the hot sun coming down on their backs. They also stumbled upon The Pub with Cold Beer (the actual name) and enjoyed a cold one with some new friends. One of the girls they met – born in Iowa City, what are the chances!? – told them about how much fun Ha Long Bay was (we’ve heard this from multiple people) and so we discussed potential trying to head back up north to check it out since we missed out before due to weather.
We took our time watching the sun set and eating before trying to head home on the bikes because the owner had let us know a lot of people will drive home drunk after the sun sets and it can be really dangerous. He advised us to take a back road with less traffic, which was a little nerve-racking but ultimately safer. We went to turn our bikes on and of course Josh’s lights didn’t work and multiple bikes didn’t have working tail lights either (sooo sketch) so we set up our caravan accordingly and agreed to take it slower. The biggest issue was that we all wear sunglasses when riding to avoid getting bugs/dirt/etc. in our eyes, but when it’s pitch black out and the lights don’t work, that’s not a great option anymore. We managed, but it was definitely stressful to say the least.
We got back and I wasn’t ready to sleep, plus we had to catch a night bus to Hoi An at 4am in the morning, so we went across the street for some more beer towers and to see where the night would take us. About 5 til 11 Easy Tiger’s bar closed up and some people started migrating up the street to a different bar. Once we arrived, we were greeted by a little boy carrying a puppy and saying “HELLOO” – almost every kid that we passed either walking or biking would say hi or hello and wave. I wish i could say the bar was a ton of fun, but honestly I only stayed for a few new friends from London’s company and the puppies 😍
Staying up was a great plan until our bus was an hour late. So we were up until 5am and then I passed out almost immediately once the bus started moving. Apparently that was a pretty amazing feat because the bus was extrmely bumpy and the driver was honking his loud horn every couple of seconds. We missed the connecting bus in Hue because we were so far behind, and pretty much the only viable option was for us to take a private taxi to Hoi An. I feel like this kind of crap always happens to us when we’ve been traveling. Ugh.
- Chicken satay salad. It was pretty dry ingredients and chicken, plus I’m pretty sure the dressing was just a runny peanut butter. Chugged water afterwards
- Fresh shrimp spring rolls. Almost all of the spring rolls we got were fried, so I didn’t expect them to be fresh. The lettuce was kind of bitter so I didn’t eat many. Instead I nibbled on Josh’s spicy salami pizza and Mike’s Shepard’s pie. And also got a banana pancake with honey for dessert 👍