Passes, lowlands and ancient ruins

Quy Nhon Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 15 › view all entries
Sunrise on the beach of our lodge in Mui Ne.

We get up before dawn, because I’ve planned on taking some pictures of the sun rising over the ocean. Unfortunately the entire sky is clear, except for a small strip just above the horizon. In spite of this little set back it is nice to be on the beach so early when it is still nice and quiet.

Time has come already to leave this magnificent lodge and around 7 am we are on our way to Quy Nho’n. We have barely left Mui Ne when we see a funeral procession from (according to Michel) descendants of the Cham people. He can tell this from the flags the people are carrying. The people wearing white clothes are the deceased’s next of kin. From the hearse false money is thrown, the spirit of departed may need this on its way to the afterlife and to bribe the gods and gatekeepers, just to make sure they will let it into paradise.

Cham people in a funeral procession, just outside Mui Ne.
Shortly after this we drive by the white sand dunes with a beautiful lake in front of them.

We stop for the first time at 9 am, for a drink in a restaurant near the sea, on which there are people working at any given time. Inside the restaurant, against the wall, stands a terrarium containing lizards that are meant for consumption, we don’t mind that it is still a little early, because we don’t feel like having a lizard-lunch that much.

When we move on we see lovely blue birds sitting on the electricity lines. One of them takes on the challenge and tries to out-fly our bus, but when it becomes obvious that it can’t win, it sets itself down on a wire again and it soon vanishes in the distance.

Around ten we reach the Cham tower of Poklongarai.

The ruins of the 13th century Poklonggarai Cham tower.
From the parking lot it is a short climb to the ruins, which are very well preserved, although they date from the 13th century. The red bricks shine in the bright sunlight and the view from the hill on which the towers are built is quite nice. Inside the towers the shade brings some relief from the burning sun outside. Minutes seem seconds and in no time at all we are back in the bus again.

On the way to our lunch we see the vineyards of the Da Lat region. The wine culture here has started to develop itself in the last few years, but the wine should be pretty good.

After lunch we pass through Nha Trang where we visit the Cham tower of Ponagar.

The harbour of Nha Trang looks like a filmset.
The temple complex is dedicated to Ponagar, a.k.a. Lady Thien Y-ana, she is supposed to have recreated the world and she supposedly taught the locals weaving and new agricultural techniques. The temples were built between the 7th and 12th century and only 4 of the 8 originally built towers remain. Here too, we have to go up a flight of stairs to reach the towers. From up here we can see the harbour of Nha Trang and it looks exactly like what a tropical harbour should look like. The towers themselves are different than the last ones we saw, but it is obvious that they were built by the same people. I enjoy walking here, imagining what everything must have been like, a thousand years ago.

Every bus ride is an experience on itself, the landscape changes constantly, from the mountain passes near Nha Trang to salt fields that are still full of water, because it is too early in the season. There are some shrimp farms and several shell-fish farms as well.

This bamboo bridge must be a lot sturdier than it looks.

We cross the railway from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi several times, because it pretty much runs along the road we are traveling. It is a single track and trains moving in opposite directions have to wait for one another on short stretches of double track, making the trains even slower than they already are. The track runs through villages, where the houses of the poorest are built virtually on the track, only allowing the train speeds not excessing 10 km/h.

To Bon is the name of the lowlands we travel through, this area is known for its tremendous winds, some people Michel knows were blown off the road here, moped and all..

School's out!!!
.

On another break we see a man working with his ox cart, hauling sand from the restaurant to where it is needed. Backing the animal up appears to be not as simple as we thought it would be. In the distance a bamboo bridge, that is probably stronger than it looks, enables pedestrians to cross the river.

When the afternoon comes to an end we see lots of school children going home, all of them wearing their uniforms. As soon as they spot us, it becomes unclear who is looking at who now. We have pulled over near a gas station and our driver uses the opportunity to fill up his almost empty fuel tank. On the porch of the gas station stand at least ten fire extinguishers. I wonder how much good that will do when fire breaks out here...

Michel has told me only seconds ago that we are ahead of schedule and that if we are lucky we will reach a beautifully engineered wooden bridge before dusk, when all of a sudden our driver starts stirring his gear-lever like he is making a cauldron of broth.

A little fun when our bus broke down, unfortunately the pushing didn't really help.
He appears not to be able to find any gear at all any more, and our bus starts slowing down. So far for the bridge. While our driver starts tinkering, we walk ahead, taking some pictures of the scenery. It takes a while, but then we see our bus coming with Michel hanging out the door, shouting to us that we have to jump on while the bus is rolling, because only the fifth gear is working and it is almost impossible to accelerate. In the next village we have to find a workshop for some necessary repairs. The workshop isn’t much more than a rackety shed with two men working and an old lorry in front of it. The men start working on our bus and while they dismantle the gear-box we end up in the next door restaurant where the staff hardly speak any English at all. The repairs take longer than expected, because a certain part of the gear-box is damaged beyond repair and since there are no spare parts it has to be remade altogether. Three hours later, having eaten nothing but a delicious Pho our bus is ready and we can go on again. We have had fun alright, we’ve chatted, watched a terribly overdubbed Chinese movie (all the characters have the same voice) and Trudy has become best mates with the daughter of the restaurant owner.
The mechanic on the left and our driver on the right managed to fix the gear-box of our bus.

I sleep the last stretch of our trip, it is dark outside and there’s nothing to see after all. We arrive in Quy Nho’n at 11.15 pm and we will be here for one night only.

We take a shower and go straight to bed, which is a pity actually, because our room is spacious, nicely lit and very comfortable.

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Sunrise on the beach of our lodge …
Sunrise on the beach of our lodge…
Cham people in a funeral processio…
Cham people in a funeral processi…
The ruins of the 13th century Pokl…
The ruins of the 13th century Pok…
The harbour of Nha Trang looks lik…
The harbour of Nha Trang looks li…
This bamboo bridge must be a lot s…
This bamboo bridge must be a lot …
Schools out!!!
School's out!!!
A little fun when our bus broke do…
A little fun when our bus broke d…
The mechanic on the left and our d…
The mechanic on the left and our …
Trudy and her new best friend (she…
Trudy and her new best friend (sh…
Fishermen hauling in their nets on…
Fishermen hauling in their nets o…
The pool of our lodge in Mui Ne.
The pool of our lodge in Mui Ne.
We saw this man paddling along whi…
We saw this man paddling along wh…
Above the entrance a statue of the…
Above the entrance a statue of th…
Locals visiting Ponagar.
Locals visiting Ponagar.
Backing up an ox cart isnt as eas…
Backing up an ox cart isn't as ea…
I catch some school girls off guar…
I catch some school girls off gua…
The Ponagar Cham tower in Nha Tran…
The Ponagar Cham tower in Nha Tra…
Quy Nhon
photo by: droonsta