Going along the coast, our stops included Hoi An and Nha Trang off the coast of the South China Sea. The town of Hoi An is heavily influenced by French architecture with many buildings lying along the Thu Bon River, many in their crumbling state. The city was used in the 17th century by Japanese, Chinese, and European merchants and so the city's character is reflected by their influences. You will see temples, pagodas, and mustard colored French maisons. There isn't much to do in Hoi An but that is exactly the charm walking around watching the men make silk lanterns and the many myriad of artisans going about their business from carving wood works to painting to doing hand made embroidery. The place in the evening has a soft quality as the same lanterns are hung on bridges and rivers and provide various colors of light along the walking boulevards.
There is actually a pretty decent beach in the area, so what better way to get out there then rent a bike and peddle ourselves out there. Not knowing the roads that well, we opted to get one bike with Sabeen on a makeshift seat on the back, while I peddled. We got the hang of it after a few shaky starts and were off peddling down the road. Earlier, when we were trying to store our bike an unofficial looking guy supposedly security told us to move along and park our bike across the street. We ignored him and walked a few hundred feet down the road and locked up our bike. The beach was long and wide but the waves were pretty choppy and large, so we went in but took caution and stayed somewhat close to the shore. Upon coming back from the beach our bike was nowhere to be found, so we did the sensible thing with Sabeen marching down to the same unofficial looking guy and asking him for our bike. He was busy playing cards with his family and pretended he didn't know. We didn't relent and kept asking him, he would point and go back to his card playing. We were determined that we would have our way or he would have a very difficult and annoying time playing his cards with us repeatedly asking him for our bike. Finally a man took mercy and walked us to the beach where our bike was thrown on the sand. With no damage done, we were off again back to town.
The stop in the next beach town of Nha Trang could be described in one word "rainy". The wet season was in full swing in the south, so while we got a chance to sit on the sand, most of the time it was pouring non stop. The next stop was Ho Chi Minh City and also our exit place to Cambodia. Ho Chi Minh was hot and humid and contains several sites related to the Vietnam War, such as the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. The former was the place where North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates in 1975 and which officially ended the war. The latter contains some amazing and graphic photos from the horrors of war with many evidence documented by American, English, and Japanese photographers who among many were sadly killed while covering the war. After spending a few days in this adrenaline charged city maybe blamed on the strong Vietnamese coffee, we exited for Cambodia.