Well it has taken me a while to get round to writing it but here is a report on our highly enjoyable trip.
We decided to go by air from Hanoi because the train leaves at 11pm and gets there at 2pm the next day so wouldnt have left much time to enjoy the resorts. The plane was only $130 return, took about an hour or so, and was worth every penny.
We got to Danang airport and were greeted by a host of taxis. I didn't want to take the major names and thought one on its own would be better (and maybe cheaper) however, it turned out to be a bad move as his meter was in dollars and he charged us 10 of them to get to where Clio had taken up residence: Hoa's Place on China Beach. At $5 for her single room and $7 for a twin it was very good value and within sniffing distance of the beach. After plonking our stuff in the room we all headed for the beach, a swim in the beautifully warm ocean and a seafood lunch. Yummy! We all got a little too much sun that day, but enjoyed the beach. In the afternoon we headed for Marble mountain, which was just across the road almost. It is a hill full of pagodas, caves, and lovely views, as can be seen in some of the pics. Soon after arriving it started to rain, but it didn't matter too much and it was a lovely afternoon. At the bottom of the hill are a lot shops selling marble stuff, jewellery and all sorts of good value tat, which we all enjoyed perusing. Some a little big to carry home...
In the evening, after chatting with the friendly people around the communal table at Hoa's place over a couple of beers, we had dinner at a fantastic seafood restaurant with four waitresses for three of us, with a bottle of French wine, giant prawns, abalone and fish, before heading off in search of an expat bar in Danang recommended by Clio's guidebook. After riding up and down on our rented motorbikes (a good value $3 a day) we asked people, asked more people, rode around some more, finding it around two hours later, just closing! But Danang is a beautiful city and it wasn't a bad place to ride around in the cool night air. We eventually found a piano bar, which was nearly closing but we managed to get a drink and a couple of songs before they closed. I had a cocktail and then we headed on home, or so we thought. But just before the bridge back to China Beach we saw a disco. Julien as ever was keen to go in, but I said, no I am going home. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my way home, so turned around and went and found them in the disco. This disco was the oddest place, with no dance floor, lots of pretty girls in short skirts being moved around tables by the management, and dancing girls on the stage (although they did look like ladyboys to me) There were lots of high-spending Vietnamese men but no sex involved as far we could tell. After a cocktail it was 11.30 and closing time! Everyone was out by midnight.. Oh well good for an early morning start to Hoi Anh.
Hoi Anh is only around 30 minutes from China Beach by motorbike, and is a lovely place to spend a day. The people are very friendly, the food is very different from the food in Hanoi, and absolutely delicious, especially at the Mermaid restaurant, with stuffed squid, seafood omelet and fish. In Hoi Anh there are many things to buy for presents. I am off to England in 3 weeks, so bought one or two, which I will not mention here... We stopped at a nice hotel which was recommended by Hoa from Hoa's place and was only $11 for a triple room, with a bath, air conditioning and was close to the centre. What more could we ask for. Perfect. We also had some clothes and shoes made at very reasonable prices with very quick, same day making. They copied the leather flip-flops I bought in England a year ago and have worn constantly ever since. You may have seen the orange and yellow flowered shirt I had made in the pics, which was less than $10. In the evening, after a dinner across the river in the very posh, but good value, Dutch owned Lighthouse Restaurant, we spent a lovely time drinking two-for-one happy hour (til midnight!) cocktails at $3, which were superb and really hit the spot. With a game of pool, which degenerated into a drunken mess thanks to the mojitos. No disco.
The next morning we picked up the shoes, before doing a bit more shopping and heading off back to Danang and the beach. At 6ish we left for the airport and paid only 100,000 Dong this time, just over half the cost of the arrival taxi.
So altogether a great time. Very reviving and smashing fun.
I would recommend to anyone Danang and Hoi Anh. With lots to do and far more than can be fitted in in 3 days. I hope to return soon...