The Road to Phan Rang

After running through my options for the next place to go I decided south would be my best bet. I'd have to make my way back to Ho Chi Minh eventually, so why not do it in a couple of smaller trips instead of going north and then having to take an 8 or 15 hour train ride back. The next city south, Phan Rang, was about a 2 hour ride away.

I approached a couple of tourist booking shops near my hotel and asked about trains or buses south to Phan Rang. There was a lot of confusion about the train departure times so I decided bus was the way to go. The guy at the last shop I visited said that it was too late for him to sell me a bus ticket, but that if I got to the bus station within 20 minutes I could still buy a ticket there for 150,000 VND.

Upon arriving at the bus station I explained where I was headed to the first person I saw. This guy brought me around to the other side of the station toward a small beat up white van with a card board Phan Rang sign in the front window. The guy then asked me for 200,000 VND at which point I turned around and walked away to go find my tourist bus, but then they guy changed the price to 75,000 VND and I decided maybe the van was worth a shot.

After about 15 minutes we left the bus station and appeared to be on our way, but as I would learn the van doesn't work quite the same as the bus. After about 5 minutes we pulled over at some random shop and one of the guys yelled something out the window at a group of people, one of the people stepped forward and hopped in the van. On the way out of town the van did this repeatedly, eventually picking up 4 people, a bird and a mysterious brick shaped package.

The Package
Van dude trying to convince someone to join 
As we drove out of the city I got to see something new for this trip, the more rural side of Vietnam which you cant really get a glimpse of from the train. We drove through several one lane towns where the way people lived was reminiscent of life in Baja California. In between towns there was very little, maybe a couple rice paddy's, some trash and the occasional "no city" sign. We stopped at one of these desolate areas where someone who was dressed like a military officer was eagerly awaiting the mysterious package we'd picked up earlier.

"no city" sign

Eventually we pulled into Phan Rang and unloaded off the bus. My plan was to get a cab over toward the beach where I'd be able to check out some hotels and decide if I wanted to stay beach side or in the city. I figured the cab drivers would be able to understand words like beach, or east or maybe ocean. This was not the case. After trying everything from writing the English words for him(works sometimes), pointing in the general direction I wanted to go, and looking through his translation book; he finally put me on the phone with someone who was bilingual and understood that I needed a hotel near the beach.

Taxi Drivers guide to English