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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Monday, 12 Mar 2007

Location: Hoi An, Vietnam

MapFirst of all, I'm sorry I haven't updated the pictures on here in awhile. While the computers are faster than China's, I still don't have the patience to sit and wait for them to upload. I'll get to it once I get to Saigon.

Today would be the beginning of an incredible, unforgettable experience to be had! A six day tour that included the west coast and then into the Central Highlands of Vietnam, off the beaten track of tourists. My guide's name is Nam, a simple man who grew up in an orphanage. He spoke good English and took very good care of me, and my belongings.


We started off with a hearty breakfast that included an omelette with bread for me, and of course a cup of strong, Vietnamese coffee. We drove down Highway #1 until we reached our first stop--Marble Mountain. Mixed in with the beauty of a small mountain composed mainly of marble (and where much of the marble artwork in the area comes from) are temples (buddhist), pagodas, statues, and art. It was a beautiful start to the day. The highlight of this place was the cave temples. I thought I'd be seeing a regular cave, but to my amazement, the entrance to the cave led to some stairs that went down into a large room. Inside the room were statues of Buddhas carved out of the rock in the cave, and of course incense burning in front of the statues where people worship. With the sun beaming in from a hole at the top, bats flying around, the smoke rising from the incense, the statues, it all had kind of a mystical ambience to the place, very surreal. The second cave I saw was even more amazing with the carved statues--amazing what fine work the people have done to make these things, must have been surely a difficult task.

Next stop--China Beach. Sam Son beach, where I had been just a couple of days before was nice, but this was even better with big waves to boot (apparently this is a popular surf spot from November to February). The golden, sandy beach stretches for about 35 miles and provides some excellent spots to sit and bask in the sun, and the ocean. I only spent about 2 hours here, but it was enough to give me a sunburn. Apparently, there was an American tv show called China Beach that was based on this place. Has anyone heard of or seen this show?

After a relaxing couple of hours at the beach, we headed into the small city of Hoi An. This place was very touristy and crowded with European tourists, including several older, retired ones. However, tourist stuff aside, it's a beautiful city that I just had to spend 2 nights in rather than one. There is a river running through it and I read somewhere that this is the French Riviera of the East--I believe it. Tons of cafes, pubs, and shops everywhere, and a market. They provide some excellent meals, especially dinner in the evening along the river. Nam left me on my own at about 5 pm to whatever, so I spent my first evening just enjoying the riverside with some tasty Tiger beer and an awesome codfish wrapped in banana plant for dinner. First day of the tour went very well, and it would only get better...