Da Lat and Mui Ne were short and chilled visits, so I’m going to combine my adventures on this one occasion. If you look at it positively, it’s two for the price of one 😉.
I’ve mentioned and given examples of my bad luck on a few occasions, but on the bus ride to Da Lat was by far my worst.
Sadly leaving Hoi An at 5.30pm, Vinny and I arrived at our stop over Nha Trang at 6.30am. I decided not to stay in Nha Trang as it’s a Russian tourist destination. Not that I have anything against the Russians, however it’s the equivalent of a UK Benidorm, which has never been my cup of tea. Anyway we had to hang around for two hours before our next bus, so in theory, I have been to Nha Trang.
Our next bus (see exhibit below) was the smallest, uncomfortable, bumpiest bus I’ve ever been on. With only room left at the back, Vinny and I prepared ourselves for the last four and a half hours of our very long ride. N.B. Given the option again, I’d fly from Hoi An to Da Lat. After a quick rest stop, I got back on the bus. Squashed in-between Vinny and a guy who decided legs spread is the most comfortable position for everyone 🙈, I lined up my slot and reversed into my seat. As the back of the bus was raised I didn’t see the bag rack just below me and as I sat down I whacked the right temple of my head with quite some force. I knew at the time it was a bad knock, as I suddenly felt sleepy, but tried to brush it off.
It wasn’t until seven hours later, once we had arrived at our hostel while I was off exploring the town of Da Lat (and looking for a gym), did the aftermath of the knock kick in. After finding two gyms, which cost 90p for the day (I was super excited) and naughtily eating a Snickers, I started to get very dizzy. Feeling tired and spaced out all day, I assumed I needed a drink or a sit down. I then realised that I couldn’t walk in a straight line, as my body kept veering off to the left. Reflecting on the events, part of me feels like it was my punishment for eating that snickers.
I was a 10 minute walk from the hostel, so instead of making a fuss I decided to head back. Trying not to get myself into a panic, I thought tough love was the best medicine and tried talking the situation down (out loud), to which I then realised I couldn’t speak properly. I must have looked like a drunk tourist 🙈.
I finally got back to the hostel, somehow made it upstairs and started crying to a poor half asleep Vinny. To the rescue, Vinny then organised a taxi and on recommendation from the hostel, got me to what I assumed was a private hospital a bit further out from town.
Helping me into the ward, I was the only patient so they quickly put me in a bed and started assessing me. Turns out, they completely misunderstood me in the first instance, taking my blood and putting me on a drip. It was only when I tried asking whether I could sleep with a head injury did they realise. After being wheelchaired downstairs for CT scan and a nerve racking wait, luckily everything came back clear. Still unable to walk and with a severe stutter, I was discharged. ‘Trying’ to speak to my parents later on the phone, turns out I shouldn’t have been let out. But I suppose when there is a language barrier, it’s always harder. The happy ending, I survived the scary ordeal and from it, have a new story to tell. Thinking back on it now, it does put into perspective how scary travelling alone can be. But on the other hand, being by myself gives me a different strength and confidence in handling tough situations, instead of at home instantly looking to my family for support. It was a valuable lesson, which I will never forget.
Friday 10th March
Still feeling the effects of concussion (dizziness, tiredness, headache) and without the stutter/strange walking, we decided to take it easy on the Friday.
Renting one scooter (as it was dangerous for me to drive), we drove to the hospital to pick up a letter, then stopped at the Tuyen Lam Lake for a drink with a view. We then started our journey to Elephant Waterfalls, taking a beautiful scenic route and even stopping at a viewpoint. In hindsight, probably shouldn’t have been jumping. Arriving an hour and 30 mins later at Elephant Waterfalls, we put our exploring shoes on. On the way back, I wanted to go to Penn Waterfall, however the ride was bumpy it made me feel dizzy, sleepy and sick, so we skipped it and went back to the hostel instead.
That evening, we decided that we both needed to rest, so booked a bus to a beach town for the following day called Mui Ne.
Saturday 11th March
Chilling in the morning, the bus picked us up around 12.30pm. I was disappointed to leave the French architect town of Da Lat, as there was still a lot to see, including hiking and canyoning, but I knew if I stayed I would end up hurting myself further.
Our bus arrived in Mui Ne at 6pm and we ended up eating dinner at an incredible family owned restaurant with a Brit called Ben.
Mui Ne was in fact the first place I shared a dorm with all Brits 😊.
Sunday 12th March
The main reason people visit Mui Ne, other than for the beach, is because it has red and white sand dunes 😮. Vietnam from the moment I arrived has continued to amaze me. I’ve gone from lush mountains, to small towns, to jungles and caves, to big cities, to beaches and now sand dunes. Topped with the unbelievable food, Vietnam has it all!
Not wanting an early start, we booked a sand dune sunset tour with our British dorm mates, Hannah, Sam and Erik.
The first stop was a five minute drive down the street to a place called the Fairy Stream. It’s pretty cool, as you walk up the stream to a waterfall at the end.We then visited the fishing town, which didn’t smell bad (I assumed it would). Arriving at the dunes, we only had half an hour to explore so took a jeep to the top. Personally I think it’s a bit of a con to make you pay extra. It was still fun though and I was excited to experience my first ever sand dunes!We then took the dodgiest drive to the red sand dunes for the sunset, where we nearly crashed and I nearly fell out of the jeep, as the door wasn’t locked properly so flew open whilst turning a corner. The Vietnamese drivers are insane – so much for resting. The following night, Vinny went out with Erik for a boozy night and met this couple who owned three hotels in Mui Ne (including a hostel). So that evening we treated ourselves to fancy dinner at their restaurant called Breeze. I had the best seafood curry I’ve ever had. If we were staying any longer I would have booked myself into Mui Ne Hills budget hotel as the pool and vibe was amazing. So that’s my crazy couple of days in Da Lat and Mui Ne. After this, it’s only two more stops before I venture into a brand new country – Cambodia.
Jessica Storm ✌️