It has been two months since I decided to leave Da Nang. Finally, I have sorted out my overloaded baggage; my long-term, indefinite Vietnam surf trip will begin in August 2019. The plan for the surf trip looks like this. First, we’ll head south all the way to the Mui Ne area of Phan Thiet. From there, we’ll travel northwards on a weekly basis or so to see the surf spots. The aim is to get to the point break.
Departure from Da Nang by Vietnam Railways was made on the evening of 31 July 2019. Two days before departure, the motorbike and several pieces of luggage were arranged to be delivered in advance to the arrival station, Binh Thuan. It is supposed to take one to two days for the motorbike and separate luggage to arrive.
On the day of departure from the hot city of Da Nang, I arrived at Da Nang train station by Grab car from Moon Hotel, where I stayed for a long period of time, five minutes before departure. We just barely made the train on time, as planned. This sleeper train ride took 16 hours and 750 km.
Purchased and secured three seats in the best four-bed compartment on the Vietnam sleeper train.
Vietnamese train stations have quite a height between the platform and the train itself, thus requiring a lot of strength to get in and out of the train. If you have a lot of luggage, these are quite difficult.
The train stopped at Quang Ngai and Nha Trang stations during its midnight run. Each stop lasted 5-10 minutes, making it possible to get off the train and walk on the platform.
The train was well air-conditioned, thus light, long-sleeved long trousers were felt to be ideal wear. The train was shaky while on the move, with intensity of about 1-3 all the time. The mattresses were hard, the blankets smelt bad which makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
During the day, there are plenty of beautiful scenery, although the windows of the coach are very scratchy.
On 1st of August, the train arrived at Binh Thuan station at around 10:00 am. The journey of approximately 16 hours and 750 km is complete. Pay some money to the station operator for unpacking and storage of the crate-packed scooter. This is a separate fee from the delivery fee, which is, I believe, about ¥1,000. The payment is made at the place where the work was done, which is very Vietnamese. In Vietnam, each branch office, branch and department is like a separate company, and there is often no horizontal linkage or one-stop service mentality.
The air and climate felt different and cooler than in Da Nang. Muong Man Station = Binh Thuan station.
Two taxi companies’ vehicles were parked in front of the station. The Mai Linh drivers were kind enough to install a motorbike mirror for me. The people who gathered at this station were clearly different from the Vietnamese I had experienced in other parts of the country, with no atmosphere of asking for money in exchange for an uncalled help, which made it comfortable for us foreigners. We then had a two and a half hour motorbike drive from Binh Thuan station to the fishing town of La Gi. We decided to take a taxi to transport our large amount of luggage and surfboards for added safety.
Arrived at the first place to stay this time. Conveniently located with just one minute by motorbike to the beach in La Gi. It was a single house rented on Airbnb and surrounded by the countryside. Accommodation budget for this trip was up to VND 500,000 (2,500 JPY) per night.
On arrival, I went into town first to get something to eat, and ate noodles at a large local restaurant, which was open even at around 2 PM. Tasted ok. Afterwards, I rode through the town on a scooter and observed the atmosphere. I noticed that the fishing town of La Gi is a nice, peaceful town. The character of the people is totally different. I was really surprised and humbled for I thought I had come to know Vietnam in the last three years.
In the evening, I went for a quick wave check. It’s onshore, but it looks doable. However, the current seems to be strong.
Southwest swell coming in from the right side looking out to sea. The break is mostly in the right direction and regular break waves.
Dinner on the first day was banh canh at a street stall. Different cooking style with different noodles and soup than I have tasted before. The taste is only fair.
La Gi had most of the bare necessities of life. Feels good.
A town with a very large number of churches. The only difference between La Gi and other areas of Vietnam that I know of is that there are many churches. There is no indication that family incomes are particularly high, in fact, I often saw children working in the fishing harbour. If this is the case, it may be that people are so different because of differences in religious beliefs.
The boats on the river are beautiful. The cool weather and heavy rainfall helped to cure the heat stroke that had been present in Da Nang.
(Surf trip record: La Gi, Binh Thuan Province, Vietnam – August 2019)