Duden Waterfall, Antalya, Turkiye.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Antalya, Turkiye.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Paris, France on May 1st.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

We've been on the move, so just playing catch up with you a little bit...

Writing this from our very basic, but relatively clean, 287,000 dong ($11.75 USD, $15.75 CAD) per night hotel room near the Vinh Airport which we flew into this (Saturday) morning.

We had to leave the hotel in Da Lat early this morning, and I had no time to write a blog post. So I'll update you on the past two days, because I'm not sure when you'll hear from us again!

We didn't have to vacate our room in Da Lat until noon Friday, which worked out perfectly since we decided to go back to the same guesthouse we had when we arrived at Da Lat airport the first night... the one with the beautiful views.

Yep, this is the place!

Da Lat airport is 30 kms (18 miles) from the city, and our flight Saturday morning was at 8:25am, so it made sense to stay overnight close to the airport. Plus, it meant that we had all Friday afternoon just to sit and relax and enjoy this beautiful view!

But we did have to go find some lunch when we arrived. We ended up at a basic little family run Vietnamese lunch spot.

Waiting for our lunch.

Ruth attracts all the animals.

Saying hello to a little kitten.

We had chicken, rice, and salad.

Basic, filling meal. Cost was 60,000 dong ($2.50 USD, $3.30 CAD) each.

The back to the patio at our room where we wasted the afternoon.

Another gorgeous day.

We sat and played some backgammon and yahtzee and had a couple of drinks.

The pool water was actually not that cold, but the air temperature wasn't hot enough for us.

For dinner, there was a Thai place down the road from us that looked nice. And the food was plentiful, but mine wasn't really that good.

Ruth had a shrimp Pad Thai.
The shrimp were huge, and she couldn't finish it.

I ordered the sautéed spinach, but it was more spinach stalks than leaves, and it was hard to chew. Although it was flavorful, I really didn't enjoy it. Which is a shame because I like spinach!

And the grilled pork skewers were tougher than the spinach stalks!

Oh well. You win some, and you lose some!

Up at 6:00am Saturday morning, and into a Grab taxi by 6:30am for the short five minute ride to the airport. Even though it's a small airport, it was surprisingly busy, with quite a lineup to get through security.

Yet another beautiful start to the day at Da Lat airport.

Up and away!



Our VietJet flight was uneventful and it arrived right on time at 10:00am in the non touristy city of Vinh. Cost was 1,761,600 dong ($72 USD, $97 CAD) per person for the one and a half hour flight including one checked bag each, and extra legroom seats.

But I have to say, someone should do a study on how people act in airplanes (and airports, for that matter) around the world. This is the first time I have seen people removing their seatbelts before the wheels even touch the ground. And one lady was already talking on her cell phone, despite all of the warnings not to. But then I guess that's what happens when there are no consequences. I think one of the reasons we still like flying is because we treat all of this odd human behavior as entertainment.

It was only 4 kms from the airport to the hotel I had booked, and when a Grab taxi didn't respond to our request right away, we thought about walking it. It's a lot cooler here in Vinh (high of 23C, 73F) but it was spitting with rain and no sunshine. 

Anyhow, a taxi van stopped and asked if we needed a ride. I showed him where we wanted to go (five minutes away) and he wanted 200,000 dong. I knew already that the Grab app wanted under 50,000 dong. So I laughed at him and said no. He then said he would do it for 100,000 dong. And I offered him 50,000, to which he laughed. I turned around and we started walking with our bags. 

He pulled over in front of us, and told us to get in, for 50,000 dong. Have I mentioned how much I hate taxi drivers all over the world? One of the reasons that I love the "Uber" style taxi apps. The best prices, usually best vehicles, and no negotiation on prices. 

Our room is basic, but clean.

However, I sat on the mattress and didn't sink at all. Honestly, it's like lying on a sheet of plywood! Fortunately we're only here for one night, and at least the pillows are good!

The facilities.

The reason we came here is to get to Pu Mat National Park. Very few tourists go there since it's kind of off the beaten path... which is exactly why we want to go there. And most tourists who do go there, do so as part of a tour that charges about $250 USD ($335 CAD) per person for a two night excursion from Vinh.

But we want to do it the cheap way... just for the sake of an adventure! So I knew that there had to be a local bus that would do the three hour journey up to the town of Con Cuong just outside the park boundary. Then we could find our own local accommodation once we get up there. 

But there was hardly any information available online.

We needed some exercise, so decided to walk the 2.5 kms or so to the new northern Vinh bus station and ask some questions there.

Along the way, we passed by a local Pho hole in the wall restaurant. There was a guy outside who said "hello" in English, and it turned out his English was not bad. Again, there aren't many tourists here in Vinh, so not much English is spoken.

His mother Dung (pronounced like "young") made us some food, and we sat and talked with Phan for a while.

Kevin, Ruth, Phan, and Dung.

He said that yes, we should be able to buy bus tickets for Con Cuong at that bus station. So when we were done eating, we finished walking over there. Phan gave us his contact info in case we needed any help with translation.

We did find one booth at the bus station where the girl said that the cost was 200,000 dong ($8.20 USD, $11 CAD) each, and the bus left at 6:00am, or 7:00am. So we asked about a later one, and she said "oh yes, there's one at 8:00am as well". 

But the price was more than what we read it should be. So we didn't buy tickets, and she said we could just show up and pay then.

We hopped on the local bus to the center of the city. Cost was 10,000 dong ($0.41 USD, $0.55 CAD) for the 6 km ride.

Ruth was thinking and told me to take this photo of our bus so we'd know which one it was going back on the opposite side of the street.

Wall Street?

We stopped at a tourist office of some kind, but the girl didn't speak very good English. However, she did show me a website in Vietnamese that mentioned times a minivan was going to Con Cuong. I took the information down in my phone, despite the fact it was in Vietnamese.

Old citadel gate dating to 1804.

Museum of Ethnology.

Vietnam Independence Monument.

On the grounds of the Museum of Ethnology. 
We didn't go inside the museum.

You often see the locals just set up produce for sale on the sidewalk.

Another citadel gate.
Still spitting with rain, but we really didn't get wet.

We stopped in at a high end five star hotel, assuming that someone at the front desk would speak acceptable English, and I was right. A guy helped us out by calling the number to the minivan "limousine" and booked us two seats at 100,000 dong each! And, they will pick us up right at our hotel. We do have to get our reception guy (who speaks zero English) to confirm in the morning, so hopefully it all comes together!

Back on the local bus to our hotel.

So, it looks like this little adventure is coming together, but it sure is tricky to put it all together when you don't speak the language and you don't want to pay tourist prices. But we are determined!

Not sure when we'll be able to update you again.

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Nice price drop on a 4 Pack of Apple Airtags.

And in Canada...

4 comments:

  1. What a great adventure! Reminds us of some of ours in mainland Belize. The only thing that saved us was that everyone (well, most everyone) spoke English. The rest had some similarities; negotiating with taxi drivers to take us to off the beaten path places (and fending off all the others who wanted our business), walking to places, asking for directions, finding decent food and basic accommodations. All very fascinating and rewarding in the end!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So far it is working out, except for our cheap basic room with the very hard bed but it is only for one night. When you were in Belize you were lucky to have people speaking English, that is certainly not the case here but that always makes it even more of an adventure. Hopefully everything will work itself out once we get up to Con Cuông and we can find what we are looking for in accommodation.

      We certainly had some good food yesterday at very inexpensive prices, you can definitely tell that we are no longer in a touristy location.

      We are looking forward to getting into the national park and doing some hiking, it should be an interesting visit.

      Delete

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