To Phan Rang in the Ninh Thuan province by sleeper bus…
Ha and I spent the next couple of days hanging out with her sister, Hoan, walking around the streets of the university market. Here are a few photos of some of the places we ate at and walked by…I wanted to give everyone more of a feel of the streets surrounding the universities. I posted a few in my last blog post, and thought I would share a few more here.
You haven’t had a banh mi sandwich until you have had one in Vietnam. Pretty much any one of the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of banh mi carts in Saigon will make you a delicious sandwich! I tried these all over the place and loved every one of them so much! Also, the fruits and vegetables are amazing, so many different types, along with all of the basics we have here in the US, only fresher, juicier, and soooo much more unbelievably flavorful!
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Vietnam is big on coffee…so you can find a local coffee shop on just about every corner, and unlike most of the world, they AREN’T Starbucks! I recommend everyone that comes to Saigon, or any part of Vietnam really, to try the ca phe sua da or V-caf.
It’s my understanding it is served throughout the country. As I have also mentioned before, I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but this…this damn drink is so addicting, I would typically have two or three of these unbelievably mouthwatering cups of sweet nectar almost every time I stopped in a coffee establishment! The drink is made with a small metal drip filter, and is combined with sweetened condensed milk.
Once the coffee has dripped into the condensed milk, you stir it up, and add some ice for a savory, dreamy, heavenly beverage. Even the biggest haters of coffee will be transformed into lovers of this cup of…well, not really Joe, but Joe-light and flavorful??? Okay for all you hardcore, only drink it black java drinkers, this really ain’t it, but I’m not gonna cry in my cup, only savor it every morning when I am traveling around Vietnam.
So the two days passed by way too quickly, as it always does when you are just chilling out and having fun with friends. Not that things were going to get boring, or stressful, haha, I’m still on my awesome journey! It was just that I was having such a good time around the university district I wasn’t ready to leave, but my time in Vietnam was only for two weeks so Ha and I had to stay on schedule. Now it was time to take the sleeper bus from Saigon north to Phan Rang, in the Ninh Thuan province. Hoa came to join us, and the three of us set out that night, to catch the bus.
I think everyone should definitely take a sleeper bus in an Asian country at least once in their lives, but I would also like to interject right now that after doing it once you might never want to do it again! And there’s LOTS of blogs talking about the good or bad points on sleeper buses, so before you do decide to ride one, do a bit of research and see if it really is something you want to do; there are a lot of people that really hate this way of travel! And, it’s not that I won’t EVER do it again, but the seats are almost like a cocoon, and can be very difficult to get comfortable in if you are more than about 5 1/2 feet tall! I’m sure I’ll ride in one again…I do love to travel and live the way the local people do in their country, it’s just my thing, but that’s MY thing and most people aren’t crazy like me, haha. If you do have a little bit of cowboy, or cowgirl in you, though, then follow the Nike slogan that says, JUST DO IT! Experience it, live it, live life to the fullest. Try the things the people do in the countries you visit. Walk in their shoes, eat their food, travel with abandon, I believe you will be a better person for it, and have a better understanding of all people, when you take on a culture, and live it.
It was definitely an interesting ride, but I think maybe the next time I travel there with Ha and Hoa, I might hold out and ask them to take the train with me! Anyway, when we woke up a couple of hours before we got to Phan Rang, the sun was rising up in the sky, and was stunning to see through our bus windows. We were riding along a two lane highway near the coast of Vietnam, and I only wish I could have gotten photos of the surrounding areas while riding the bus. It just wasn’t meant to be, maybe next time I will try harder, but sometimes those moments are only meant for ourselves, and these were some of those moments. I truly was impressed with the area, and even though I wasn’t the most comfortable camper in that cocoon of a seat, the breathtaking view was worth every minute of discomfort.
It’s funny how a city the size of 90,000+ people can seem kind of quiet, but that’s how I found Phan Rang. The sunrises were majestic, the people were unbelievably friendly; it was a place I could fall in love with, and never leave…but that was the way this trip had been for me everywhere I have been traveling so far. It is a city kind of off the beaten path, one where you will not find a lot of tourists, which makes it even more enchanting. It reminded me of my stays in District 9, and Thu Duc Districts.
Ha and her uncle had a lot in store for me on the three days we would be visiting the surrounding areas of Phan Rang. We would travel to an historic temple built in the late 1300’s, a small village where they make all their clothes by hand with huge old wooden looms, a pottery barn where an elderly woman and her daughter knead clay in the old traditional ways without a wheel, a vineyard where I would be able to sit down and interview the owner, and several other places that will forever be a part of me. I could hardly wait to get on the back of one of the motorbikes and begin the journey around the area, I knew it was going to be one hell of an adventure!
I will be sharing all of the places we went to with everyone over the next few weeks, through my photos and stories, along with some videos I will be adding and sharing links to them from my You Tube page to my blog. I will never forget Phan Rang, and it’s beauty, and I would highly recommend this area to everyone. It has so much to offer, and it will always have a piece of my heart. So stay tuned, and keep following, as I share all of the wonderful places from this area with you, and may the travel urge pull at you as it has grabbed hold of me, and will never let me go! Life is too short, it’s NEVER too late to follow your dreams…