Before arriving in Vietnam, I just knew one thing, where I am gonna start and where I will end my Vietnam trip, everything in-between was spontaneously planned. My last destination was Dong Hoi, one city in the Middle and from a touristic point of view I could call it “The middle of nowhere”. Staying there makes you feel special… yeah… there were not that many tourist species running around. But I got to know another kind of tourists, those on the motorbikes.
The reason why I was skipping the north part of the country was first: the weather during the winter (rain) and the second: the Middle is on the same geographical line as Thakhek in Lao, where I was heading next. So I decided to go to Dong Hoi, from where I would take the bus to Lao. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t that trivial as I thought. In this city, I really started to feel desperate because of the language barrier… I guess that’s the price of visiting not that touristic places… And there was one more thing… well the bus to Thakhek goes just twice per week, so instead of two nights, it became four, meaning getting stuck somewhere, where is not much to do or see… or maybe there is?
Trying to get to the information about the buses on the internet is impossible, so you need to go directly to the bus station and check it out in person. And that is what I did… I was trying to get the information from a guy selling the tickets, but he didn’t understand aaaaannnnny English, so it was a Sisyphean task… I just couldn’t find out on which day the bus leaves, so I got back to the hostel and ask the hostel staff to write down the questions in Vietnamese on a paper. Later I went back to the station and gave the paper to the man, where he had to answer just with YES or NO and to write the dates. One question was missing, so I was foolish enough to give it a try with google translate. I asked “Can I buy the Lao visa on the border” and in return, I received “Yes, you can fix your car.” This kind of moment just makes your day 🙂 . Sometimes is really devastating because of not understanding, but this gives Asia a special charm (if you don’t get crazy before 😉 ).
Dong Hoi is a city with the beach, but in December is dead season, so it is just a ghost city… There are even not many hostels there, but it is still a place where tourist stop… tourist that are traveling through Vietnam on a motorbike. I have never considered this traveling option, but from what I can imagine it has to be awesome. It gives you more freedom and for sure more adventure… It is cheap to buy a motorbike once you land and then sell it before flying back home. A lot of the bikers were making one night stops in Dong Hoi, before heading to other more known cities. For me staying in this town felt like a transit… seeing people coming and leaving all the time, it was just me that got stuck there. Until I met a Catalan guy (Carlos) and a Dutch girl (Irene) …
One hour of drive away from Dong Hoi is the National Park Phong Nha (under UNESCO) with a lot of caves… even the largest cave in the world (Sơn Đoòng Cave). Carlos and I rented a scooter and together with Irene, we drove till the park. It was raining and we were looking for the cave, where you go in with a boat. It was a first time experience for me to see a cave from a boat, so it was worth it. We had a super fun day together and I must say, I felt a bit sad when we said goodbye. But this is how it goes in life, you need to let go.
And then also my day came to leave Vietnam… Staying two more nights in Dong Hoi made me realize that it became the highlight of my Vietnam trip. Rushing all the time just to be able to see the most of the country in a short time, is just not holiday anymore. The brain is overloaded with too much information and impressions, so it needs time to reflect the happening and to calm down. Give yourself a chance to stay in one place and not do or see anything. I assure you, you are going to see more then your eyes could realize.