After our pretty negative overnight bus journey in Laos (see Blog post “A Local Bus” dated 28 June, 2018), it was with more than a little trepidation that we began a 12 hour overnight bus journey from Hoi An to Nhatrang in Vietnam. But fortunately it was a whole different experience: there was no blaring music (in fact the bus was pretty quiet all round even without snorers!); the lights were turned off; there were fully reclined sleeper seats (ok these aren’t brilliant for anyone with a height above 170cm or so but still..); there was only one person per seat and no children or babies on the bus; the roads were in pretty good nick and not too bumpy; the bus was modern and clean; there was air conditioning and you were even given a blanket, some drinking water and a wet wipe. What more could you ask for? We both managed to get some sleep even if it is fair to say it wasn’t the best night’s sleep ever. But in comparison to our previous shocker, we felt we were travelling business class!
The only slight downside was that instead of arriving at the scheduled time of 6am (which was always going to be challenging enough for getting an early check in), we in fact arrived in Nhatrang at 4.30 in the morning at which point we were hoofed off the bus into the dim-lit city centre all a little bit dazed and sleepy wondering what to do next in an unfamiliar city that seemed to be firmly asleep.
Having found our guesthouse but seen that it was all locked up with the security guard asleep in the front porch behind the padlocked gate, we knew there was no way we would be able to get such a crazily early check in nor was there any point disturbing the guard to even try (it didn’t seem fair).
So instead, we headed off to the beach to sit it out for a few hours. Having assumed we would have the beach to ourselves, imagine our surprise therefore when we arrived at the seashore before 5am to find it a busy hive of activity with the local population out in full force doing tai chi and various other physical exercises before dawn and before their working day got into full swing. There were also lots of people in the sea although there didn’t seem to be that much actual swimming going on, just quite a bit of bobbing about in the waves in what seemed to be a very sociable moment of the day, particularly among the older generation. It made you think that this was all part of a rather gentle routine which had been happening for years and went on no matter what day of the week it was.
By 7am the locals had vacated their beach making way for the sun loungers and parasols which were already being set up in readiness for the arrival of the foreign (mainly Russian in Nhatrang) sun worshippers. It was almost as though dawn was the local people’s special time to enjoy their beautiful beach before the heat of the day and the consumerism of the tourist industry took over. And with a beautiful sun rise to boot, it certainly was quite a magical moment and almost – not quite, but almost – made up for the crazily early arrival time and curtailed night’s sleep!