16th of August – Poshanu champa tower
After staying in Ho Chi Minh city for two days I left for Phan Thiet. It took me a while to choose this destination. I was thinking whether I should go to Phu Quoc island, Da Nang or Vung Tau. But since these places are too touristic for me I decided to chose something less touristic. Phan Thiet seemed to be a place like that. Moreover it has mountain.
So I called the bus company Phuong Trang to book a ticket. The next day I took GoViet motortaxi to go to Ben Xe Mien Tay (West bus station). I had to ask for the ticket and pay at the office to get on the bus. The bus took about 4-5 hours with one stop on the road for the guest to have a rest.
When I arrived to Phan Thiet’s office I had to change to another bus that took me near to my accommodation. Getting there I was totally lost. I searched for the guesthouse for 20 minutes walking back and forth asking people for the road. Then later I had to call the reception and to my surprise he came out to give me a ride back.
I chose the guesthouse because it was near the ocean and I thought it had ocean view but turned out the room was only near the ocean. The window didn’t open to there. But I guess it was better since the yard was under construction.
My room looked fine though. Then I asked him to call me a motor taxi, this one was the traditional one, not Grab or Goviet. He took me to the Poshanu Champa tower, where I could see the temple of the Cham people that was left after Cham empire.
Near it, there was a Lau Ong Hoang (Prince’s castle) that looked like a block. Originally a French person, De Montpensier built a property there for people to have a rest. Later Han Mac Tu wrote his poem about this place as it was a place where he met his lover Mong Cam. However after 1945 and the war of French invasion to Vietnam, this property was abandonned, so today you can only see a block. It’s a beautiful place from where you can see the coast line and the sea.
I walked around it for a while then came down. There was also a performance where the Cham people performed there dancing and singing. Yes, of course there was an entrance fee of 15.000 VND to the Poshanu Cham Tower.
When I wanted to go home I couldn’t call Grab. Phan Thiet has Grab but mainly in the city centre. The Champa temple was a bit far from there. So I had to call the receptionist to call me the motortaxi before. Then he took me to a vegetarian restaurant. The food was OK but not as good as it was in the temple. I also asked for the take away for the next day breakfast.
Arriving back I didn’t do anything except for sitting outside to enjoy the sea and prepare for the next day mountain climbing. Sitting outside and see the moonlight was fine though there were too many mosquitoes.
17th of August – Climbing Ta Cu mountain
After 3 weeks of not doing anything interesting I was craving for the mountain to climb. I was told that it took approximately 2-3 hours to get to the top and that the road was built but it can still be dangerous especially since I was alone. There was a cable car that cost 180.000 VND for a return ride. The mountain was 649 metres high. I didn’t think I needed a cable car to go up. Though there was still an entrance fee of 50.000 VND.
From Phan Thiet I took the bus number 4. The bus in Vietnam is another challenge. In big city it’s well-developed and even in Phan Thiet wasn’t bad. I caught the bus at Coopmart Phan Thiet. Getting on I paid 16.000 VND until Ta Cu. The fare is different depends on the distance you are going. Then you have to ask them to tell you when you arrived to the destination. Fast forward. When I went back from Ta Cu mountain there was only one bus station. The bus turning there might go back to Phan Thiet or to another terminal station. Before getting on you have to ask them where it is going. And of course there is no timetable to know when it arrives. As far as I know there is an app where you can follow it. But to be honest taking the public transport takes a lot of time and patience.
I arrived to Ta Cu mountain and bought a 50.000 VND ticket. Then a car going in the park took me to the entrance of trekking up to the top. At first the road was still full of rocks that makes hiking much more interesting. Then only the soil road. After that comes the stairs. To be honest the road of mountains in Vietnam are all built with stairs. So you only have to follow the path and take the stairs and you are good. It’s not that challenging but it can be tiring due to the lot of stairs. Fortunately Ta Cu mountain wasn’t full of stairs, some place was only soil to go up. It was very hot and full of mosquitoes and cockcroaches. It’s full of trees and trash. Since the cable car was built people don’t really take care of the mountain anymore. I wish I had a trash bag to collect the trash in there.
I was the only one who climbed. Everyone else took the cable car. I’m not gonna say I wasn’t scared but to be honest it wasn’t the most dangerous or hardest mountain ever. After 1 hour and 15 minutes I got up to the cable car station. Walking a while I saw the whole scene of green trees, the rice fields and the city. The air was better and refreshing. But of course hot. It was so hot. There was a small temple, 3 Buddhist statues: Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Taking few stairs more is the giant lying Buddha statues. It looked very calming seeing Buddha lying down with its closed eyes. Felt like everything would be alright.
There was also a small shop where you could take a rest and have some drink. I drank nuoc mia for 10.000 VND. It started to rain so I had to wait there. Seeing this I didn’t dare to walk down so I took the cable car. I bought the ticket at the restaurant up there for 100.000 VND. So expensive. The cable car lasted for 5 minutes or so and I saw the tree forest from the top and the city. It was pleasurable. Going down was a park where they built statues of the zodiac sign and wrote a few characteristic of it. Guess what. My zodiac sign is pig and at the pig statue the board was missing. Only my zodiac sign didn’t have characteristic description. -.-
There was a hanging bridge over the lake and many restaurants. I didn’t feel like to take too many picture there or eat. But the garden and the lake was worth seeing. Especially the herb medicine garden where they plant the herbs and described what it was good for. Going out I waited for the bus for at least 20 minutes. Arriving to Phan Thiet was around 1 hour. I was thinking taking the next bus to go to Ke Ga Hai Dang, the beach where you can see the light tower. But I didn’t want to deal with the bus schedule so I just left it. I went into the Coopmart and found a book shop where I bought another 2 books. I called Grab and went home.
Arriving home I took a shower and called food delivery to eat Bun mam tom. I called my mom and watched television. It was a long time since I watched TV. Of course in Korea I also watched. As my mum kept telling me how dangerous it was to go around alone in Vietnam I felt hopeless and booked a tour to visit Mui Ne that I will let you know in the next post.
Travelling alone is a taboo
The funny part of all the mountain climbing adventure was that people seemed to look at solo traveller, especially woman, who climbed the mountain instead of taking the cable car as a weird person. At the entrance the cashier asked me where I came from that I climb the mountain. She even told me to take the cable car as it saved time and energy. I looked at her as weirdo. Then when I went down by cable car and asked the security guard there how to buy the ticket, he also asked me if I climbed the mountain and if I was alone. He was surprised when I said yes. It felt like in Vietnam you cannot go anywhere alone without people looking at you as a weirdo. When I talked to my parents and told them I was all by myself in the huge mountain, they told me how dangerous it was.
I didn’t exactly understood the over-exaggerating attitude of the Vietnamese but I guess it all originates from the community-based mindset. Asia is famous for it’s community attitude. Whatever you do you have to put other people’s interest first. If you think of yourself first, you are told to be greedy. That’s why things like travelling alone is a straight taboo. I was asked many times if it was boring going alone. Some people even assumed it was boring for me. I said no, it wasn’t. But then I decided not to care about it, because they always think they are right.
This is something to learn. When people are convinced they are right, it’s no use to argue with them. Just let them think what they want. I know who I was and why I was travelling alone, so I just didn’t care about it. The main point was that I enjoyed my journey.
My next adventure in Mui Ne and Da Lat will be much more interesting and exciting.