Our travels

Profession:professional fighter pilot, professional race car driver, naval demolition diver and all round good guy. Favourite music:Beethoven, Bach or Deep Purple, Favourite movie:The notebook. Languages:Catalan and Klingon.
  • Day7

    Hue tour

    April 14, 2017 in Vietnam

    What we saw:

    Thien Mu pagoda
    Imperial citadel
    Khai Dinh Royal Tomb
    Dong Ba riverside market

    Hue is a place that offers many cultural treasures: the tombs of kings, the imperial citadel and temples.
    In Viet Nam there is no other place that has as many original historical remnants as this ancient capital.
    On this tour, we will visit the most famous landmarks situated within Hue’s borders, such as: Imperial
    citadel, Thien Mu pagoda, Khai Dinh Royal Tomb and Dong Ba riverside market
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  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day6

    Imperial Hotel, Hue

    April 13, 2017 in Vietnam

    picked up at your hotel before heading to Bach Ma National Park which has a diversity of
    flora and fauna as well as naturally beautiful landscapes to explore. In just one day in Bach Ma you can
    trek and discover the highlights of this mountain. Another interesting sight is the old villas that remain in
    the jungle despite being damaged in the American War and reclaimed by nature. During the war, the
    American Army used the summit as a helicopter-base and the area saw a lot of heavy combat,
    unfortunately destroying some parts of the forest.
    Once in Bach Ma, we will travel by car to the summit, on a sunny day, this is a great place for panoramic
    views of natural wonders including Cau Hai lagoon and Chan May port. Start hiking along to the path
    through the forest to the summit trail which takes you a few kilometers past the Bach Ma Morin at the
    terminus of the park road.
    The trail continues to a pavilion with 360-degree views of the surrounding area, usually mist shrouded
    and above the clouds. Back to Do Quyen waterfall for trekking along a path through dense jungle
    (1,5km). If they’re lucky, trekkers can see birds at close range along the foot trails where we will enjoy a
    picnic lunch. After an exciting day in Bach Ma, we will depart to Lang Co beach. With its gradually
    sloping, white sand beach, an average depth of less than 1m and the average temperature in the
    bathing season of 25°C, Lang Co is an ideal beach for tourists.

    Dinner at a very interesting back alley hotel which was very nice.
    Imperial Hotel, Hue-5 star? I dont think so. Foyer is nice, but the rest leaves a lot to be desired. Overpriced drinks, poor service, and a terrible breakfast. Rooms comparable to a 3 star if that. Dont bother. Find somewhere else to stay at a better price. Apparently used by all the government dignitaries when they come to Hue.
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  • Day5

    Sack the guide

    April 12, 2017 in Vietnam

    Breakfast at the hotel in Ba Na Hills- very ordinary. went and had cake and coffee at a local shop instead.

    Had arranged to meet Quang, our very un-interested guide at the bas of the hotel cable car. When went to check out we were told that we had to take the tourist cable car and that Quang would meet us in Da Nang, which involved us carrying our own bags up and down at least 10 different sets of stairs, taking 2 cable cars, and then being left at the base of the mountain, not knowing where we were, and not being able to speak vietnamese. Started walking to what we though was a carpark to find that we didnt know where the road led.
    Neil finally spat the dummy and called Quang, to find that he was in Da Nang and had just sent the driver to collect us.
    Neil got onto Mrs Nhung who assured us that Quang was at Ba Na Hills looking for us. This conversation went backwards and forwards for a while with Mrs Nhung advising she had spoken to Quang and yes, he was there looking for us.

    We contacted Mrs Nhung and told her what had happened and that we were not impressed. What is one of us had been injured? Also informed Mrs NHUNG that we still had not received the $20us refund. She called me back to tell me that Quang had claimed he had already given me the money. Not only a useless guide, but a liar and a thief.

    Told her to get rid of Quang and to get another guide.

    A passing hotel golf cart offered us a ride, which we gladly took up,
    and as we were going down the road, who should come the other way but
    Hero, out driver. The look on his face was priceless. He was obviously looking for us as
    he was very glad to see us and kept saying sorry. We tried to tell him
    it was not his fault. He confirmed that Quang was in Da Nang.

    Hero drove us back to Da Nang and then on to lunch which was an improvement on previous. The Blue Whale Restaurant on the beach. There we were met by Lin who was fantastic.

    Spent about 1 hour taking to her after lunch before we headed off.

    She took us to a beach where we met some locals catching fish and we interacted with them for about 1 hour. She then took us on a tour of other parts of the area and we ended up in a back street which was blocked by some people moving a very large piece of timber. We stopped and went to look at what appeared to be a boat yard building fishing boats. She advised us that we could not go inside as they do not allow it, and that women cannot go in as it is bad luck.

    We were outside talking to locals and just looking around when a man came out of the office and invited us into the boat yard. Lin was very surprised and said that it had never happened before. As we walked into the yard some men using a power saw stopped working so we wouldnt get covered in dust. Next thing they are yelling at Lin and she is yelling back.

    Turns out they are from her village and they are building the new village boat. Amazing.

    We spend a lot of time there before going back to the hotel. A great day.
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  • Day4

    Today we are off to Ba Na, a french village in the Ba Na Hills. Built by the french during their occupation to relieve them of the heat of vietnam as it is situated at 1487 metres.

    Interesting drive up with Quang providing some rather novel answers to our questions. Graeme asked about a large dam with a very large dam wall, asking what it was for. Quang's reply was, 'just a lake'.

    We asked why there were concrete stairs built up the cuttings along the roadway which were all concreted, to which h replied 'so that people can plant trees at the top"

    Both answers were crap. The dam is a major dam which Graeme later saw a doco about on tv, and the stairs were actual a water runoff from the concreted drain at the top of the cuttings. the stairs slow the water down as it runs off.........

    We also noticed that the driver, Hero, who could speak little english, kept hitting Quang in the side of the leg whenever we asked something. Quang was always on his phone and didnt seem interested in our questions.

    After a somewhat pathetic tour of the basics of Ba Na, 2 cable car rides, and a short cable train, Quang took us to lunch and ate lunch with us, not talking once. After lunch he walked us to our hotel and then left telling us he would meet us at the base of the hotel cable car in the morning, not at the hotel front desk??? Still no sign of my $20us refund......

    day will begin with departure for Ba Na. Ba Na is 1487 meters above sea level and known as
    the second Da Lat or Sapa of Viet Nam. Here, you can feel 4 seasons within a day; not many places can
    make this claim making it a must see on the tourist circuit. Upon arrival, you may be greeted by monkeys
    and beautiful panoramic views. Enjoy the stunning views of the the beautiful landscape while taking a
    ride to the top of Ba Na mountain in one of the longest cable cars in the world, then hop on the Hiking
    train to continue travelling in comfort. The Hiking Train transport tourists to several popular destinations
    including Linh Ung pagoda, Le Jardin garden and an ancient villa complex. We will visit Linh Ung
    pagoda, Tinh Tam garden, Nghinh Phong peak, Vong Nguyet hill, etc. We will then have lunch and
    go on a trail to the peak where you can view the sights of Da Nang city and the surrounding mountains.
    The night will finish with dinner and overnight in Ba

    While the cable car ride was interesting, the whole Ba Na Hills theme park was a little weird. Hotel was very average, and the food was well below expected. Certainly NOT a 4 star hotel. The only good thing was a coffee and cake in one of the shops.
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  • Day3

    My Son Tour

    April 10, 2017 in Vietnam

    Quang is on a 'memorial day' off today so we have Minh.

    Met our guide Minh at the hotel. BIG improvement on Quang.....

    depart to My Son, one of the most important sites of the ancient kingdom of Champa. Located in the heart of a beautiful valley and surrounded by high mountains ranges, My Son is one of the most stunning sights to see in Central Viet Nam and only around 80km from Da Nang city. Whilst excavating My Son, letters found revealed that this complex has been used for offerings and worship of the Hindu god since the 4th century. In 1999, UNESCO declared My Son a Unesco World Heritage site. Originally built with wood, the temples in My Son were completely destroyed by fire in the 6th century and restored in the 7th century by Sambhuvarman who rebuilt the temples with locally made bricks. Up to the 13th century, more than 70 similar temples were built, establishing My Son as a sanctuary of Hinduism in the Champa Kingdom.Read more

  • Day2

    Da Nang Discovery

    April 9, 2017 in Vietnam

    We were treated like VIP's at breakfast with staff finding a table in the corner with a view outside over the pool. Very helpful staff, although the hotel was full of Koreans who were extremely rude and dirty in their eating habits.

    Met our guide after breakfast. Quang. Also met our driver, Hero. Quang advised me he would give me my $20 tomorrow as he did not have the cash on him.

    Quang asked us what we would prefer for lunch, vietnamese or western. We advised him we prefer vietnamese food whilst in country.

    He then took us to a very small restaurant frequented by locals. During the discussion about lunch he asked what we like, and Graeme replied ' anything as long as it isnt dog or rat'. Neil ordered noodles with fish and the others had chicken with noodles.
    When it arrived, Neils looked fine, however the others had these small pieces of meat with bone and the meat looked very dark brown. No-one ate it and Graeme joked it was probably rat. Neil tasted some of the rejected meat and agreed.

    Checked the menu and found that each dish had cost 17,000 dong, or $1au each?????? We were also asked to pay for our drinks ourselves.......not impressed with our 5 star tour so far.

    Quang told us that he would not be with us the next day as it was his fathers death memorial day, and that another guide would take us.

    The beautiful city of Da Nang is right next door and it offers some wonderful activities for us to
    embark on. From the hotel we will depart for Da Nang. First, we will visit Ngu Hanh Son (Marble
    Mountain) where we will discover the stunning natural caves of the mountain and enjoy the beautiful
    view from the top. We will also visit mysterious pagodas and the sculpture village. Then, we will visit the
    Cham Museum, which displays the most complete collection of rare and valuable items of the famous
    Cham Culture. After lunch, we will continue by going through the Thuan Phuoc Bridge - the longest
    suspension bridge in Viet Nam; then on to Son Tra
    Peninsula to visit Dong Dinh Museum, Quan Am Status and Linh Ung pagoda which is known as one
    of the most significant pilgrimage destinations for Buddhists in Viet Nam. Before returning to Da Nang,
    we will take a nice walk along a beautiful long white sandy beach that offers picturesque sea views
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  • Day1

    Da Nang

    April 8, 2017 in Vietnam

    Arrived at Da Nang on a very comfortable flight, once again thanks to Vietnam Airlines. Collected our bags and went outside to find out hotel transfer.........NOT.

    Stood around for about 45 minutes with no-one appearing. Contacted Mrs NHUNG from Halong Sapa tours via Skype who assured us that the driver was there looking for us.

    After a lot of Skype chatting I told her that I had called the hotel and arranged for them to collect us. She told us she would reimburse me the cost.

    10 minutes after the call, the driver from Grand Mecure arrived and not long after we were walking into the Hotel.

    Amazing how Da Nang has changed in only 2 years. Didn't recognise the outside area around the airport.....

    Upon arrival, Gayle and I took care of booking in while Graeme and Sharon went to see if the bar next to reception was still open. It was closed, but the young barman, Tuan, said he would stay open for us. What a guy.

    Spent about 2 hours at the bar drinking and chatting to the barman who was fantastic. He even managed to find Coke Zero in the hotel for us.
    Read more

  • Day1

    Leaving Home

    April 8, 2017 in Australia

    Arrived at Tullamarine Airport to find that our bookings had been stuffed up by FlightCentre.
    They had booked Sharon on her own booking and the rest of us on another booking. This was because they originally booked Sharon as a Mr. and had to take her off our booking to rectify!!!!

    Trouble was they had NOT linked the 2 bookings despite assuring me that they had. Luckily the counter staff at Tullamarine were very good and they spent considerable time linking all the bookings together.

    Our seat requests were also not entered in they system, which meant that we were not sitting together. Again, thanks to the wonderful staff at the counter, they managed to sit all four of us together, although their was an aisle separating Sharon from the rest of us.

    Not a great start to the trip. Lets hope that is all that FlightCentre have stuffed up.

    VN780
    VIETNAM AIRLINES
    Melbourne (MEL)
    10:35 Sat, Apr 08
    Tan Son Nhat International
    (SGN)
    15:45 Sat, Apr 08

    VN140
    VIETNAM AIRLINES
    Tan Son Nhat International
    (SGN)
    20:00 Sat, Apr 08
    Da Nang International (DAD)
    21:20 Sat, Apr 08
    Read more

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