The Quy Hòa Leper Colony and the beautiful beaches of Quy Nhon

Tuesday 16th – Thursday 18th February

Miles: 11

We planned to spend two days here, and according to the weather forecast, so did the rain clouds. On day one we went for a walk along an empty, overcast Quy Nhon beach, and after not very long the rain began.  Quy Nhon beach 

We stubbornly walked the shore, sandals in one hand, umbrellas in the other, all in the spirit of “We’re going to have fun whether we like it or not”. In the end we retreated to our hotel room, deciding to add another day onto our stay. 

Luckily for us, the rest of the predicted bad weather didn’t happen, which meant we could sit on a beach, gazing at the sea, which is marginally more respectable than sitting in a hotel room gazing at a screen. 

On day two we cycled the hilly coastal path to the beach by the Quy Hòa Leper Colony. 

On the way there we stopped off at the tomb of Han Mac Tu, Vietnam’s most famous love poet, who died of leprosy aged just 38.  Tomb of Han Mac Tu 

About to descend to the beach. Quy Hoa beach 

I loved this beach. Soft sand, strong waves and nobody else there – you can’t ask for much more.  Quy Hoa beach 

Eric playing chicken with the sea.  Quy Hoa beach 

A little shrine on the far side of the beach. Quy Hoa beach 

After this we walked inland to see the nearby leper colony. I didn’t think these places still existed, but a little bit of online research told me that there’s still about 850 in the world, mainly in India and other parts of Asia. 

There is a lot of stigma surrounding leprosy, and many people in leper colonies don’t have a good quality of life. However, Quy Hòa Leper Colony is one of the good ones. It is in fact like a regular Vietnamese village (except much quieter). The people with leprosy live here with their families, have jobs if they’re young enough, and have access to modern healthcare. 

One of the village streets. 

Quy Hoa Leper Colony 

The hospital.  Quy Hoa Leper Colony 

A gremlin? Quy Hoa Leper Colony 

Visitors are welcome, and I imagine that this helps the people who live there to not feel cut off, as well as increasing awareness and lessening the stigma surrounding the disease. 

We were both concerned that this visit would seem voyeuristic, but it didn’t feel like it. We walked down the street exchanging hellos with everyone, just like any village in Vietnam. While being very careful not to stare, we could see the signs of leprosy on some people’s hands and feet. The atmosphere was relaxed. We could hear some kids playing and a few people talking, that was all. 

Surrounding the village are many busts of people who have contributed in some way towards the treatment of people with leprosy. There are some familiar faces, such as Marie Curie and Hippocrates, though most are Vietnamese doctors and scientists who we didn’t know.  Quy Hoa Leper Colony 

It was an interesting and worthwhile place to visit. 

Anyway… this bout of conscientious tourism was balanced up by a bit more lying on a beach and eating KFC. 

(For anyone who was wondering, this is what KFC in Vietnam looks like – though you can get a regular chicken burger with fries too.)

KFC in Vietnam 

Some kids are intrigued by Eric’s sea defences. Quy Nhon beach 

Quy Nhon is gorgeous and so quiet. It’s the privilege of cycle touring to be able to come to places like this.   

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