From the train we jumped in a taxi to take us to a well known guesthouse, which was full so we took a walk around and found one on the main road overlooking the harbour and we managed to converse with the lady through a mix of gestures and numbers. We had a lovely large room with balcony for 300,00 dong (just under 10GBP)
All was going well until she wanted to keep our passports, and for us this is a big no-no. Your passport does not leave your sight. Unless you are in Vietnam it turns out. The lady tried to explain by pointing at the emblem on our Visa, but I still wasn’t too sure. I went back to the room, sans passport and Adam wasn’t happy. He went down to try and speak to the lady, and he returned 5 minutes later with a defeated look on his face, “She’s got mine too now.” I just laughed. The big macho man tries to fix the problem and just gets himself in deeper, it’s just funny! As we couldn’t converse with the lady we went back to the full guesthouse and she explained that this was normal, that the police check them each night and they have to hold onto them. We felt slightly more relaxed about it.
For the rest of the day we mooched around Dong Hoi, getting lots of funny looks from locals, but mainly just big smiles, waves and hellos. That seems to be the beauty of the place, they do not get many tourists and when they do, everyone is just very pleased to see you. We were sat in a little outside cafe enjoying the famous Vietnamese ice coffee and a man purposely crossed the street with his young child, and stopped right in front of us, smiled at us, pointed and said something to his child. We waved, said hello, child looked terrified and hid behind Dad. We all laughed. Then at other points in the day, large groups of children/people cycle past and shout big hellos at you. Its refreshing as in more touristy parts of Vietnam you seem to just get harassed to buy this or that, but here they just wanted to interact for the fun of it.
We visited the Paradise Caves in Dong Hoi, that’s its main attraction, and a very recent one at that only opening in 2011. And it’s beautiful. It goes underground for about 2km and is full of little streams and rivers and stalagmites and stalactites of varying shapes and sizes. It is very well designed as there are plenty of viewing platforms. We spent a few hours in there just mesmerized by every detail. Its a must-do if you’re ever in Vietnam…
—Love to all, Cheryl—