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I am going to China next month - Guangzhou, Shanghai and Qingdao - to get a visa I have to travel to Bangkok and back on two occasions which involves a total of twelve hours travelling on buses and trains.
My China trip is for a week and involves flying from Bangkok to Guangzhou. After overnighting in Guangzhou I fly on to Shanghai for three days and then fly to Qingdao. I am spending two days in Qingdao before flying back to Shanghai. I have not finalised my plans from Shanghai but will fly back to Bangkok from Guangzhou. I had originally planned to also go to Beijing but it would add to much time and cost to the trip.
9th October 2009
Back home in Jomtien (Thailand) after a week in Vietnam. I visited Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Da Nang. The highlight for me was Nha Trang as it seems almost like a separate country to the rest of Vietnam.
Nha Trang is clean, tidy and well organised, I imagine there must be very strong local government controlling the day to day operation of the city as well as development. There are several high rise hotels and a large shopping complex under construction along the beachfront but it all blends together. The beach is quite wide and very long, I cannot imagine that it could ever get crowded. I came across a beach vendor selling fresh lobster and king prawns that she cooked over a charcoal BBQ. I spoilt myself with a small lobster and six king prawns (100,000 Dong). There is also a brewery (Louisiane Brewhouse) on the beach (my kind of beach) that has a restaurant, a swimming pool and great beer.
I like Ho Chi Minh City (I have been there three times now) but I could not live there as I need a beach.
I did not like Danang even though it has a beach. Danang is almost the opposite of Nha Trang as it is dirty, messy and scattered all over the place. The hotel I stayed at was on the opposite side of the Han river the the main part of the city and there was no public transport (or anything else) in the area. I chose the hotel as it was described as being between the city and the beach, which it is but the only way to get to the city or the beach is by taxi. I rented a motorbike to go to the beach etc. but the beach was closed due to debris and rough seas from the recent storms.
Worth mentioning that the trip to get to Danang (Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang - Nha Trang to Danang) via two train trips took around 15 hours and the trip by air from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City took around 1 hour. The cost for each trip was about the same so considering that I would not take the train option next time.
More Photographs of Hoi An and Danang
6th October 2009
I arrived in Danang at 5am this morning on the overnight train from Nha Trang. I caught a mini bus to Hoi An to have a look around before returning to Danang where I am staying for the next two nights.
Hoi An is an ancient city of the area but is very small and compact. It was in a bit of a mess as there had been major storms and flooding five days earlier (the same storm that caused all the flooding in Manila) leaving a lot of mud and debris.
Yesterday I rented a motorbike in Nha Trang and went for a ride around the area. I first went to the South of town to have a look at the cable car to Vinpearl (resort/spa/amusement park) The cable car system is more than 3 kilometres long going from the mainland to the island. I then went North for about 20 kilometres along the coast, passing small fishing villages and fish farms.
More Photographs of Nha Trang
3rd October 2009
Arrived in Nha Trang this evening after the seven hour train trip from Ho Chi Minh City. I discovered that the reason the overnight train was full was because some previous trains had been cancelled due to flooding.
Nha Trang is definitely a tourist town, there are
foreign tourists everywhere even though this is the off season.
Although it is night time my first impressions are good, it has a
clean, modern, organized look. There is a festival called the Mid
Autumn Festival and so the streets are crowded.
I am staying at the Ha Van Hotel which is close to the beach and also central to Nha Trang - Great value, great service.
There are lots of hotels, restaurants, dive shops and tourist related shops although no shops selling the typical T shirts etc which is quite strange. Most of the shops and restaurants look expensive although I ate in a small local restaurant and had fried rice and a beer for less than $2.
I struggle with the Vietnamese currency, the Dong, due to the enormous numbers involved (I think they should remove three zeros). Recent examples of my costs:
Taxi from Ho Chi Minh airport to railway station
Hotel for the night 300,000
Train fare to Nha Trang 167,000
Because all prices have such large numbers I get the feeling that everything is expensive but the above prices in Australian dollars are roughly
As you can see things are not expensive at all (although the coffee was in an "Up Market" coffee shop so was relatively expensive but possibly the best coffee I have ever had)
I will check out the beach tomorrow.
I am now in Ho Chi Minh City and my plan has been disrupted already. I had planned to catch the overnight train from Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang tonight but it was full so I have to stay here tonight and catch the day train which leaves at 12.20 tomorrow. This means that I will lose a full day in Nha Trang as I will not get there until tomorrow night instead of early tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow I leave for Vietnam to complete my tour of the Vietnamese coastline. On my previous visit I flew into Hanoi, where I spent a couple of days, before catching the overnight train to Hue, where I spent a day/night. I then flew from Hue, to Ho Chi Minh City for two days before flying back to Bangkok.
This trip I am flying from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City and catching the overnight train to Nha Trang on the day I arrive. I will spend two days in Nha Trang before catching the overnight train to Da Nang, where I spend two more days before flying back to Ho Chi Minh City for a day and then back to Bangkok.
I am now back home in Jomtien, Thailand, after a week in the Philippines.
I visited Manila, Caticlan, Boracay and Kalibo. The highlight was Boracay despite
the fact that there was a very strong constant onshore wind. The wind is apparently a seasonal feature of the area and does not occur during the peak tourist season. I did not get to see much of Manila as it was raining heavily for most of my time there. The main thing I noticed about Manila was that there are armed security guards everywhere (including small shops like pizza shops, chemists, 7 Elevens) - the banks have three guards one outside and two inside (with shotguns).
More Photographs of Boracay
After a month of work without any trips I am now in Boracay, Philippines. I flew from Bangkok to Manila with Philippine Airlines and then from Manila to Caticlan with SEAIR. The flight with SEAIR took one hour and included transfer to Boracay via shuttle bus and ferry - all for less than $10 - how do they make any money out of that?
Boracay is the most popular tourist destination in the Philippines.
This is the "Off Season" as it is the monsoon season. I am staying close to White Beach, the main beach on the island, which is long and has fine white sand. The only negative is that due to the season there is a strong, constant, onshore wind which makes the sea quite rough and sitting on the beach uncomfortable. A large portion of the beach has high wind breaks in place (up to five metres high) to shelter the shops, restaurants and hotels from the wind.
Boracay is still relatively undeveloped - no high rise hotels or department stores here - which I think adds its its appeal. Most of the tourists seem to be Filipinos or Koreans.
6th August 2009
Mr. Cheap - I am going to Manila and Boracay (Philippines) next month and got a great deal on air fares. I am travelling Bangkok to Manila return with Philippine Airlines for less than $200 and then from Manila to Boracay (50 minutes each way) with Seair for less than $20!
Then in October I am going to Vietnam again to check out Danang and Nha Trang. I am flying Air Asia Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City ($39 each way) then catching the train to Nha Trang and then on to Danang. I fly back from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City with Jetstar ($30).
I would like to visit China whilst I am here but so far have been unable to find any cheap flights etc. It seems that transport to and within China is quite expensive.
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