Vietnam 2016 – Trip Report 7

Quy Nhon

 

Up, and feeling, probably better than what I thought I might.

Fortunately, the sudden exiting of the pho was a one off.  I’d half expected to endure several repeat performances during the night.

Although, we did have a little bit of a disturbed night.

Being a very local hotel, and Quy Nhon being a very local, non-touristy place, the late night etiquette you come to expect from fellow hotel guests, doesn’t always apply.

It’s not really a criticism, I’m more than happy to accept cultural differences while in someone else’s country, but it can certainly be annoying.  A bit like the queueing thing, I suppose….

Out the door, and around the corner to Barbara’s place by 8.00am, which was when our 3 – 4 hour trip over to the peninsula was due to start.

Two minutes later, our car and driver had arrived.  Good start!

We head North, back into town, and then continued North out of town, towards a bridge, that is apparently the longest sea bridge in Vietnam.

It’s not long before we can see it in the distance.  And while it’s not the greatest looking bridge you’ve ever seen, it is very long.  So, in that regard, it is fairly impressive.

Finally, we’re actually on it.  And eventually, we’re finally off it.  Yep, it’s a long bridge.

On the other side now, the roads are wide.  Very wide.  And that’s about all there is.  Just wide roads.

Oh, there’s also a few cars.  But not that many.  And there’s the occasional truck.  Yep, very wide roads but not much traffic.

But there is one thing that there is plenty of.  Sand.

It’s everywhere.

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Sand… Plenty of sand….

It stretches, in parts, for as far as you can see.  And, in parts, it’s all over the roads.

It must get very windy here, and I can imagine it would be a never ending job keeping the roads clear.

Having said all that, it’s interesting.  Sand, sand dunes, sand mining.  Yep, interesting.

Probably get a little monotonous after a while, but hey, been married for over 20 years, so I actually handle monotonous quite well.

May be pushing my luck on that one…..

Eventually, we turn off to the right, and it’s not long before the landscape begins to change.

There’s a lot of activity going on.  Construction type activity.

There are lots of new, mature size, palm trees that look like they’ve just been planted, as well as very green grass, that also looks new.  Further on, there are construction workers and vehicles.  And, lots of them.

And then, on the left, it appears.  A huge, sprawling, concrete building.  Not overly tall; 5 or 6 levels, perhaps; but long.  Very, very long.

It soon becomes apparent; it’s going to be a new golf resort.  And it’s massive.

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‘That’ new golf resort under construction.

I’m sure it will be lovely when it’s finished, but I hate it.  I hate it, and I hate the thought of it.

And I haven’t even seen what I’m about to see yet.  And that will make me think even less of it.

On we go and we begin to enter the town of Nhon Ly.  The roads begin to narrow, with some of them not much wider than a car.  There are people about, too.  Just walking around, doing their thing.  Probably the same thing they do every day.

But we appear to be ‘upsetting’ their ‘every day’ things.  We’re being noticed, and I’m not sure why.  It may be a combination of things.

The fact that they don’t see too many taxis, or cars for that matter, in their little town?  Perhaps because some of these streets aren’t designed for cars?  Motorbikes yes, but cars, no?  Or maybe because there are two strange western tourists sitting in the back of this car?

I don’t get the feeling they’re unhappy to see us; they actually seem incredibly friendly; but perhaps they’re just a little perplexed by what they’re seeing.

Anyway, we push on.  Past people, dogs, chickens, the front doors of houses, until we begin to drive up a slight incline.  Not a hill, just an incline.  Only just big enough to stop you from seeing over the top.

We then get to the top.

Oh my………!!!!!!

This bit’s difficult, now.  I kind of know what I want to say, but I just don’t know how to say it.  Need to do it justice.  Or at least try.

So, we get to the top.  Yep, Oh my……!!!!!!

A small cove, with a rocky outcrop at each end.  In between these two outcrops is a mix of sand, turquoise water and traditional Vietnamese fishing boats.

Stunning!

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Words, and even the photo, just don’t do it justice.

In almost 5 weeks, at that particular point, of Vietnam experience, I had seen many things that had made me stop, to take a moment to allow it to soak in.

Our first glimpse of the HCMC traffic, the floating market in Can Tho, various markets around the country, our first sighting of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Halong Bay, the rock formations around Ninh Binh and hundreds of scenes of people just going about every day Vietnamese life.

Little, and big, ‘Wow’ moments, if you like.

But there are two moments that stand out above all of them.  Two moments when I couldn’t believe what I was looking at.  Two moments when my heart skipped a beat, or my breath was almost taken away from me.

The first was in Mai Chau on our first trip.  We were on a bike ride and we came down into a valley where there was a minority village.  The landscape and the view just blew me away.

I still often think back to that day.

And now, this was the second one.  I couldn’t believe what I was looking at.

Wow!   It was just stunning.

I’m not sure why these two particular occasions affected me more than the others.  I suspect because they were completely unexpected.  No preconceived ideas, no, ‘actually looking’ for something.

Our driver pulled up next to the beach wall and we got out.  We just stood there, and tried, to take it all in.

I suspect my mouth was open, and my eyes like dinner plates.

“Wow”, was uttered more than once.

Probably a bit like when we saw the traffic of HCMC for the first time…..

The colour of the water, the colour of the sand, the colours of the fishing boats, the sampans on the beach.  The brightness, the contrasts, the vividness, of it all.

For want of a better word, stunning, will probably have to do.

We walk along the small path above the beach and come across 6 or 7 locals.  They’ve obviously just come back from fishing because there is something, that used to be very large, cut up into pieces on the ground.  It must have been huge, as the pieces are still big.

It takes a few minutes to work out what it actually is.  Or what it actually was, as the case is now.

It’s some sort of ray; either a manta ray or stingray; and it was massive.

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Cleaning the catch!
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At least it’s now movable…. but only just!

The locals are very excited and keen to show us what they’ve caught.  While I felt a bit sorry for it, it is what it is; it’s their livelihood, and it’s what they do to survive.

Photos taken of both fish, and locals, along with some hand gestures and laughter.  It was something that just added to the whole Nhon Ly experience.

We then made our way up the hill overlooking the beach, towards a pagoda and a massive Buddha.

Stopping on the way to talk to the wild goats that live on the hill.  Yep, just another thing that makes you scratch your head…..

A quick look at the pagoda; only because you kind of have to, not because you want to, and then it was time to just take in the view from the top.

Stunning, idyllic, or any other word you can think of.

Blue water, colourful boats, the roof tops of the houses, hills and sand dunes in the distance.

Absolutely amazing.

But it’s one of those scenes that annoys you.  Because you know, that no matter how many photos you take, not one of them will come close to actually capturing it.

Still didn’t stop from trying, though.

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Overlooking the town.
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The obligatory selfie!

The walk back down the hill was tough.  Not because it was steep or difficult, but because I didn’t want to leave the view.

Did I mention it was stunning…..?

Back on the path we come across the locals again.  They’re still ‘processing’ the ray.  Washing it in the sea and then putting it in plastic bags and baskets before transporting it, with some difficulty, on their motorbikes.

Fascinating.

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As we go to leave, one of the women motions to us.  Again, no English, so it takes a moment to work out what she’s saying.  She’s asking us if we’d like to go out on their boat.

Wow, how good would that be!  But it’s going to be a bit difficult to arrange.  We have this 3 – 4 hour trip with a non-English speaking driver, and we’ve only just stopped at our first place.  I don’t actually know where else we’re going to be taken, or how long it will take.

It was tempting, and I almost said yes, but in the end we politely declined her offer.

I’m still spewing about it.  We should have done it, and could have done it, especially if we knew then, what we know now.

Several ‘cam ons’, and we say goodbye and head back to the car.

Back into town along those narrow streets and we come across a market.  The day just keeps getting better.  Not a big market, but very local, and still incredibly interesting.

We just wander around taking in the sights and smells.  We attract the attention of the locals, which is not really surprising.  There’s no one else here that looks like us.

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Fruit, as well as smiles.

We turn a corner and an old lady, who is cooking something, spots us before we actually spot her.

She insists, almost demands, that we sit down at her stall and have something to eat.  We oblige, for a couple of reasons.

One, we haven’t eaten yet and we’re hungry.  And two, even though she was quite insistent that we ‘join’ her, she did it in such a friendly way that I really couldn’t refuse.

So we sit, while she cooks our breakfast.  Which at this point we had no idea of what it was going to be.

Turns out it’s pancake type things with prawns, cucumber, assorted leaves and fish sauce that you dip into.  And pretty good it was, too.

But it was more than that.  While the food was beautiful, it was, once again, the experience.

So local, so genuine, so real.  Just another one of ‘those’ moments.

Breakfast done, we continued exploring the market.  Found someone selling bottles of water, so took the opportunity to stock up.

I point to the large bottles and ask for two.  He says 8000 dong.  No problem, 16 000 dong for two bottles is pretty good.

No, it turns out to be 8000 dong for both!  Ridiculous……   You certainly know when you’re well off the tourist trail….

We walk past a girl selling sugar cane juice.  Why not, I think.  The intrepid explorer declines the offer, seeing as because it’s called sugar cane, and because they make sugar from it, it must be over the top sweet.

My eyes don’t roll, and my head doesn’t shake anymore.  I know the answer before I’ve actually asked the question, and I just move on.

The juice, with a little bit of lemon in it, is beautiful.  So refreshing.

“Would you like a sip?”, I ask.

Of course she does.

“Oh, wow!”, she says. “That’s nice”.

Hmmmm…….

This is then followed with, “I can’t believe how cold it is.  I thought it would be quite warm”.

“Yes, it is cold”, I say, adding that the whopping great big ice block in it probably has something to do with that…..

“Ohhhh…….”, is the reply.

I think my eyes may have rolled…….

Back to the car to find out where our next stop will be.  Five minutes later, we find out.  Well, we don’t really find out, but we’re at the next place.

It’s a pagoda and / or Buddhist thing.  I think.  I’m not very good with details on such things.

Anyway, we find out that we’re now in Eo Gio, which seems to be another area of Nhon Ly.

Walking through the gardens of the, we’ll just call it a pagoda, it’s quiet and peaceful.  It’s also a lot cooler.  It’s nice, but it’s a pagoda.  Hopefully there’s more here to see.

Around the corner, there it is.  It’s a massive gold Buddha statue at the top of some steps.

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I go up while the intrepid explorer saves her knees at the bottom.

Once at the top, I walk behind the statue.  I then walk back to the front.

“You better come up here”, I tell the stair challenged, at the bottom.

She didn’t really want to hear that, but I know she’ll be happy when she comes up.

 

Finally, round the back of the statue, and she is happy she’s made the effort.

It’s a pretty decent view, again.  House roofs below, mountains in the distance, and sand, water and colourful boats in between.

Yep, great view.  Spoilt a little by two things, though.

The big excavator on the beach below moving sand around.  Not really sure why.  And that concrete monstrosity that will be the golf resort.  This time we’re looking at it from the beach side.

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Nice view but somewhat spoilt by the excavator in the foreground…

So, not quite as good a view as earlier, but still worth the stair climb.

The only other people around were two Vietnamese couples who were taking photos of the view, as well as trying to take them of themselves.  We helped them with that last one, and had a bit of fun in the process.

Back to the car and we were on our way to our next stop.  Back out the way we had come in and eventually we were back on the wide road.  It was at this point that I had the feeling that our tour might just about be over.  And at 2 hours, I wasn’t going to be terribly happy about that.

A few minutes later we pulled up on the side of the road.  Next to……sand.  And plenty of it.

We hop out and walk into the ‘desert’.  Not really sand dunes, more like undulating mounds of sand.  Interesting, and the vastness of it was impressive, but it was just sand.  And it was hot, and windy.

Yep, hot, windy and sandy.  A winning combination….

Back to the car to have my suspicions confirmed.  We were headed back to Quy Nhon.

Two and a half hours after we had left Barbara’s Place, we were back.  I was a little annoyed.

The woman we had booked with the day before, wasn’t there.  But a quick phone call fixed that.

After a bit of a discussion we came to an agreement.  We needed car transport back to the airport the next day and she offered to supply that at a reduced rate.  Normally 320 000 dong, but she offered it for 200 000 dong.  We both finally agreed to my offer of 100 000 dong.

We both parted ways, reasonably happy.  I do take some of the responsibility for the communication breakdown.  It’s just one of those things that comes along every so often, with that language barrier thing.  Oh well, live and learn….

Back to the hotel for our usual rest and recovery session.  It really is a must.  The heat just saps you.

Sufficiently recovered, we head out again.  Tempted to head south, away from town, but quickly remembered how that had ended the day before……

We head North.  Up past the school and university for the seventy ninth time.  Hoping that we may be able to find something to eat.  This is part of the problem with the siesta thing.  If you don’t have something before the siesta, then by the time you come out again, the lunch thing is done.  And the dinner thing hasn’t started yet.

Just before the roundabout we turn left down a narrow street.  Don’t know where it goes, or what’s down there, but we’ll find out.

Short answer.  Nothing.

Apart from a ‘house’ that has several locals sitting in front of computer screens.  A computer gaming, internet café, type of place, I assume.  Only really noticeable because it stands out from everything else around it, in the street.

Oh, and the other thing down there?  A local guy who comes up to us.  He wants to talk to us, but he doesn’t speak English.  He tries his Vietnamese on us, with as much success as my English on him.

It was never going to work, but he genuinely seems happy to see us.  He shakes my hand and we part ways.  Another ‘little’ moment.

Heading back up to the main road, we pass a young girl and her drinks cart.  Not sure what the drinks are but it looks interesting.  We smile and continue on our way.

We decide we’ll go back to the original fruit smoothie place from the other day.  He’s not there.  That too early, too late thing…..?

Eventually we find a little ‘food’ shop further up and decide to partake in the traditional Vietnamese dish of a packet of chips.  Was well worth the wait…..

With the walking caper starting to wear a little thin we make our way back towards the beach where we’re going to meet Truc and Vu.  On the way we pass the young girl with her drinks.  Don’t know what they are, but we’re going to find out.

With hand gestures and pointing we begin to understand each other.  Sort of.  I think she finally realises that we’re just asking her to make us the drinks the way she thinks best.  She now has it under control and I think she’s quite happy that we’ve come to her cart.  Another ‘little’ moment.

And the drink?

It’s tra sua.  A milky drink with different flavoured jellies in it.  It comes with a wide diameter straw as well so you can suck the jellies up!

Drinks in hand, we make our way across the main road and over to the beach wall where we sit and just enjoy our surroundings.  It’s still a bit early so there’s not too many around.  And we’re a bit away from the two hotels, so there’s no shade where we are for the locals to swim in.  The occasional bike or motorbike rider goes past, but other than that it’s pretty much us and the ladies that maintain the park area and its gardens.  Pulling out weeds, sweeping the path, watering and even sweeping the grass to get rid of the leaves.  Saturday, Sunday, Monday, it doesn’t seem to matter, they’re always here, and they do a fantastic job.

And then, minding our own business, enjoying our tra sua’s, it changes.

About a dozen 12 year olds, boys and girls, appear.  They come straight up to us and they ask, very politely, if we would talk with them to help them practice their English.

Of course!, we say, and we then spend the next 10 minutes or so, speaking with them.  English practice done, it’s photo time.  And don’t they love a photo!  There must have been 30 photos taken over the next few minutes.  It was brilliant, and the kids were fantastic.

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English lesson complete; photo time!

They thanked us and they were soon on their way.  No doubt with a story or two, as well as several photos, for their friends at school the next day.

A ‘little’ moment?  Nup, a ‘huge’ moment.  An amazing moment, and so much fun.

We just sat there for a few minutes trying to take in what had just happened.

Then, the next moment.

A young girl to our right; about 18?; starts walking towards us.  But she stops and looks back towards her friend who is sitting on the wall.  She’s trying to get her to come with her, but the friend is too shy. This goes on for a minute until I finally make eye contact with the first girl and motion for her to come over.  She does, but her friend still won’t move.  I finally get her attention, and call her over.  She plucks up the courage and joins her friend.

I assume we’ll be practicing English again.  I’m wrong.

It’s selfie time with two foreigners.  With selfie sticks and countless poses.  I thought the younger ones had gone over the top with their photos.  Well, they had nothing on these two girls.  It was hilarious.  And again, so much fun.

And, another ‘moment’.

I’d already decided that I liked Quy Nhon, even though it had taken me a little while to ‘get it’, but those two ‘moments’ just confirmed it and took it to another level.

Yep, a real good day.

It’s almost 4.30pm so we head down the beach a bit to meet up with Truc and Vu.  A few minutes later they arrive and we jump on the back of their bikes.

I’m not really sure where we’re going; it doesn’t actually matter; because I know we’ll be seeing something that we wouldn’t ordinarily get to see.  We head south, past where Lisa’s eyes leaked, and begin heading up the small mountain that you can see from the beach.  There’s a couple of tourist shops up there, as well as a nice garden area.  All of it most certainly set up for the Vietnamese tourist.

Truc, Vu and us sightseeing.

More photos taken; never been photographed so much in a day; before jumping on the bikes again and heading a little further up the hill to a coffee shop / restaurant.  There’s a bit of a lookout, above a rocky beach, and from here you can see the whole coast of Quy Nhon where it stretches all the way back up to the North.  It’s a great view and we can actually see where we walked the other day.  Geez, we walked a long way…..

More photos, and then Truc and Vu ask us what we’d like to do.  We said we had no plans and we were happy to do whatever.  Dinner was suggested, and I was more than happy with that.

Stopped off at a church on the way back down the mountain for a quick walk around it’s gardens, before jumping back on the bikes and heading North towards town.

On the way, Vu met a friend of his, Dui, who was riding his bike along the same road we were on.  He also joined us for dinner.

And our friend’s choice of dinner places?

An outside ‘restaurant’ beside a lake, already very busy with locals.

Perfect!

Two different dishes; one that was bun beo, according to Lisa’s diary, and the other I can’t remember.

Told you, it’s about the experience more than the food. 😉

Whatever it all was, it was nice.  And it really was a great experience.

Dinner done, we were back on the bikes.  This time we ended up on the beach.  And it just happened to be the restaurant / bar on the beach, that we had seen the day before on our walk.

It was nice to just sit and relax and learn a bit more about Truc and Vu.  Their other friend from the day before (the slightly inebriated one 🙂  ) also turned up for a little while.  This time, sober. 🙂  It really was a great way to spend an hour or so.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, as they say, and it was time to say goodbye to Truc.

Those ‘goodbyes’ again.  I hate ‘em. 😦

The two guys then took us back to the hotel, and once again, we did those ‘goodbyes’. 😦

As we were leaving reasonably early the next morning we wanted to sort out the accommodation bill and the laundry.

I hadn’t been looking forward to this after the difficulties we had when checking in.  Would the ‘checking out’ part be easier?

No, not really…..

With some hand gesturing, as well as some help from Google translate, we finally managed to get our point across.

While we were there, we asked about our laundry.  “Giat”, according to Google.

Some slight confusion, followed by, “Tomorrow!”

“Ummm, no, we leave early”, I reply, realising that I’m wasting my time with that sentence as I’m saying it.

We head upstairs to freshen up.  It’s still reasonably early and we decide that we need to enjoy the facilities of the Pub, for one final time.

Back downstairs and we’re soon doing two of my favourite things.  People watching and drinking beer.

Yep, doesn’t take much to keep me happy.

While we’re there, five young girls turn up and sit at the table next to us.

They’re out for a night together, and just generally enjoying each other’s company.

Well, sort of enjoying each other’s company.  But not really…..

All five of them have their heads buried in their phones, and not talking to each other.  Well, not with their mouths, anyway.

We have a bit of a chuckle about it, which then makes me think about how old I am, so I order another beer to stop me from thinking…..

It gets the better of Lisa, so she asks them if she can take a photo of them.

They’re fine with that, so they all look up and smile waiting for the photo to be taken.

“No, no, look back at your phones”, Lisa says with broken English and arm and hand movements.

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Apparently, this is how we talk to each other now…
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Eventually found time for a proper photo!

It takes a second, but they then get it.  They think it’s funny.  So do we, and we all have a bit of a laugh.

Another ‘little’ moment.  Yep, the ‘little’ things.

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My ‘beer man’.

 

A couple more beers and its then time to pay the bill.  As I start to ask my ‘beer man’ for some ‘take aways’, he’s already on to it.

That other thing I love; acknowledgement of a relationship that I thought only I knew about.
But he’s made it worse.  He’s now turned it into a ‘goodbye’ moment, as well.  😦

He returns with the beer and I get Lisa to take a photo of us.

A ‘cam on’, and we shake hands.  A ‘little’ moment, and a ‘goodbye’ moment…..

 

 

We head back to the hotel.

We’ll give the ‘laundry thing’ another crack, I think.

I try again.  This time I push Google translate a bit harder.

“Don giat toi nay”, which, if Mr Google is right, means, “Pick up laundry tonight”.

He seems to understand and makes gestures to imply that he’ll bring it up to our room.

Well, at least I hope that’s what he means.

I try to pay for the laundry then, to save mucking around with it later.  He won’t take any money.  Refuses to charge us for it.  It’s a lovely gesture, and one we certainly weren’t expecting.

We ‘cam on’ him, very much, and head up to our room.  Hoping that the complimentary laundry will appear soon.

A few minutes later, there’s a knock at the door.  And sure enough, our cleaned clothes are presented to us, neatly folded in a plastic basket.

Very relieved, I adjourn to the bed, with television on and beer in hand.

But I needn’t have turned the television on.  I’m looking at it, but not watching it.

I just sit there and think about the day we’ve had.  The things we’ve seen, and the people we’ve met and interacted with.

It really was an amazing day and gets me thinking about what ‘makes’ a place.

It’s the people.

You can have the ‘must see’ tourist attractions, the stunning scenery and whatever else people come to look at, but it’s the people that are actually there, that determine how good the experience will be.

Sure, some of the scenery we saw today was spectacular.  And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

But the interactions with the locals; the fishermen with their catch, the kids on the beach, spending time with Truc and Vu, and even the phone obsessed girls at the Pub.

They were the special moments.

And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Cheers,

Scott

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