With the mid-point in our Vietnamese contract approaching as well as both our birthdays we decided to take a holiday. We had 9 days off so decided to fly down to Da Nang, take a taxi for 300,000₫ (£9/$15) to Hoi An and get our wedding attire made up.
The wedding dress and suit would take a couple of days to make which meant we had plenty of time to
explore Hoi An. There are loads of day trips and activities you can do from Hoi An, one of the most popular being Cham Island. Cham island has loads of different excursions usually based around snorkeling or scuba diving, we decided to try the snorkeling trip which took you over to Cham island for the day, around the island and to a reef where you could go snorkeling before having lunch on a beach. The whole trip was only $25/£13, although every tourist in Hoi An, Vietnamese and foreigner, will be there as well so do not expect a calm experience!
We got to the port and jumped on a speed boat. The key word here being ‘jumped’. We rolled out of the harbor in the boat and over the beautiful green water. However the crystal water soon developed a swell of a few meters outside of the protection of the harbor. Our captain had the need for speed and this combined this with the waves meant air time. The boat literally jumped all the way out of the water on our trip to the island. It was a fast, fun slightly nauseating 20 minutes to the island but we all arrived safe. A few people in our boat were close to throwing up but luckily everyone managed to hold it in!!
We got off the boat and headed onto the island and through a fishing village full of the Cham people, the only problem I had with this was that it was just one big tourist trap. All the houses were selling tourist souvenirs and the ‘authentic’ fishing village was no more than a mini market selling cheap toys. We went through to the museum which is also located on the island and you could see a wide variety of sea creatures preserved so people could see, the only problem being that the sun had bleached all the animals white making it look more like a strange albino museum!
We walked round the island to visit the pagoda before getting back on a boat and heading to a small beach. Here we had some time to get changed, explore for a few minutes and get ready for snorkeling. 10 minutes later we jumped back on the boat and drove just a few minutes back to the snorkeling area. At first the water looked clean and as we pulled up alongside 5 other boats with tourist all jumping into the water with life jackets on we realized we had probably booked the wrong tour. We were give an old port hole style mask a kid’s snorkel that wouldn’t attach and no fins. We jumped into the water and the coral was ok but very badly damaged from the all the tourist just standing on the coral where it was shallow. We tried to get away from the pack and find some more secluded spots however it wasn’t all that good in the end. It was nice to go for a swim but really I would give the snorkeling a 6/10 for beauty and sea life and but the equipment only a 4/10. We spent around 30 or 40 minutes in the water and that left us time to go back to the beach, explore, sun bathe and then have lunch.
Lunch was a shared table style buffet which was a nice mix. After lunch there was time to relax and swim. We spent another hour and half on the beach and then went back on the speed boat and mini bus to the hotel. In the end the trip was definitely what we paid but it was also definitely a tourist trap. Many people being pumped through activities. After a taste of the water and sun we decided that we definitely needed another fix before we headed back to the city life. This time we needed something a little more upscale. So we shopped around and decided on a scuba dive day trip run through Cham island diving which was conducted away from the tourist snorkeling area.
Both of us were due to go on this trip however Jennie became extremely sick and had to pull out at the last minute. Doing it solo, I arrived at the same port as before but instead of a speed boat there was a junket style boat to take us to the island. We putted along at a much nicer pace and made our way of to one of the tiny islands of the side of the main island. No roads, no scooters, no tourists just an island. Here the water was really clean and crystal clear. My fellow passengers were split into two types, divers and snorkelers.
The snorkelers dived in and got right down to it and after our safety briefing we were in too. We did the deepest part of the dive first. We went down to 22m and it was darker and sandy but with these big weird purple and white flowering cucumber forest. They were beautiful, soft and moving but also a little creepy at the same time. After exploring this area we slowly wandered our way back up to the surface over the next 35 minutes and looked at all the corals, reef and sea animals in about 10 meter deep water. This dive was a great one and much MUCH better than the snorkeling the other day. I saw lion fish, Nemos, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and a wide variety of beautiful fish and coral. It was a long dive too at 56 minutes and 22meters deep. After we surfaced we had a break while we puttered over to another island. Here we did a drift dive and used the current to help push us around the dive site. This dive ended up being even longer than the first at 59 minutes. Which was enough for me as my mouth was getting sore and I was becoming a little tired. This dive started out awesome straight away.
There were small sheer cliff walls that we could dive around that had an army of small fish on them. I
even saw a lobster. The dive was great and there was a chance to see a school of barracudas that frequented the spot however they didn’t come to greet us this day. After surfacing we took the big boat over to the island for lunch and to relax. This was the same lunch spot as the other day and we enjoyed a seafood buffet. Our fish even came with a hook still inside it to show how fresh it was. After lunch and a few beers we settled down for time in the hammocks, a snooze on the beach and a swim in the cool water. It was quite relaxing until there was a small commotion when a cobra was spotted in the sand but was soon dispatched by our guide and taken away for somebody’s dinner. After a bit more snoozing and chatting we got back on the boat, bid the islands goodbye and made our way back to the mainland. It was a very enjoyable day with great sites and lots to look at. Cham island diving ran a relaxed but professional dive service and it was definitely worth the money.