My mother’s partner, Wilson entered Vietnam with the important question of “what was the national symbol of Vietnam?”. On discovering it was the buffulo his mission has since been to capture a photo of buffaloes and find a buffalo statue. The kids have spent most of the drives on buffulo lookout, shouting excitedly when they see one but they’re always too far away to take a photo of from the window of a car. Our tour guide promised us that on the drive to Hue, once we were over the Hoi Van pass, we would see many buffalo in the fields.
The drive from Hoi An to Hue takes around 3 hours, including rest stops. Leaving Hoi An we drove to the Marble Mountains to see the first of many “tourist stops” for the day. Despite its retail trap status, the marble carvings were worth seeing and it was a good chance for Mum and Wilson to pick up some souvenirs, including a buffalo carving!
Mission 1 achieved.
After the marble mountains we drove through Danang and up the Hoi Van pass. The pass used to be the only road between Danang and Hue, and was fraught with daily accidents between freight vehicles attempting the past. Now a 6km tunnel cuts through the mountains, leaving the Hoi Van pass to the tourists and trains.
Apparently the tunnel was built with the help of the Japanese and features are big bend in the middle because the two ends of the tunnels didn’t meet and they had to fix it by putting in a big corner! The kids of course want to go via the tunnel next time.
The scenery on the Hoi Van pass was stunning. The first crescent bay we came across was the most beautiful coastline we’ve seen in our four months in Asia. White sand, clear water, green jungle and rice fields surrounding a small village. We would live there in a heartbeat … except that it’s a government run leper colony. Maybe when my children are grown I’ll reskill and retire here – live in this beautiful spot and make a difference with my life. Sounds nice to me!
Our second tourist stop was at the top of the Hoi Van pass. Our current guide really isn’t understanding the whole ‘we don’t like tourist stops’ mandate.
The “toilet rest stop” quickly turned into 20 locals trying to get you to buy the “best, cheapest pearls in Vietnam”. The sales ladies were relentless and like most touts we’ve seen in Vietnam they just don’t take NO for an answer until you say no for the tenth time and walk away. It’s a very different approach to in Indonesia or Thailand where everyone is more laid back.
Eventually Colin got talked into buying Hayley a pearl necklace to keep until she’s older. Admittedly she did look very cute and has been proudly wearing it out to dinner. I guess that’s why they don’t take No for an answer! Silly Colin. We so have our guard down at the moment with how tired we are. All these ‘travel mistakes’ we keep making!
If you can get yourselves away from the touts the view is stunning.
The ruins across the road are an abandoned military bunker.
Leaving the Hoi Van Pass we passed a number of bays, beaches, ‘tourist rest stops’, rice fields and little towns but unfortunately no buffalo. By the time we reached all the rice fields on the other side of the pass it was lunch time and the buffalo had all headed home. Alas the buffalo search will have to continue another day, much to the children’s excitement, Wilson’s disappointment and our amusement!