Saturday, June 13, 2009
beaches unlike any other.
Nha Trang's beaches are pretty spectacular...they're enough to give Miami Beach a run for its money. I arrived yesterday and instantly felt the need to explore and started wandering.
After a half hour I stumbled upon Cafe Louisiane, with its wooden chairs, large brewery sign, and laid back atmosphere. Note: I'm just pointing out the fact that it's a brewhouse b/c apparently its quite popular, I really don't like beer. The people at Cafe Louisiane are split almost evenly between American/European tourists and the Vietnamese on holiday.
They also have chairs lined up along a half mile stretch facing the beach that you can rent for less than $2. Conversations around you are mostly out of earshot and the dominant noise is the wind against the straw on the makeshift mini trees providing a blessed shade. Equipped with my notebook, pen, and Naomi Klein's "No Logo" I was all set to be a beach bum extraordinaire. After ten minutes of corporations, branding, advertising money, cheating, profit I was disgusted. I looked around and at the bar they had a nice collection of books on Asia, I spotted "The Alchemist" and knew we were meant to be. Yesika was the first person to mention the book and since she's a wonderful gal I went with it; I'm also not afraid to admit that I am a sucker for self-help books.
Yesterday we went on a tour of 4 islands that really ended up being two. There were several hours that could have been disastrous and mind-blowingly boring. But I know better, if I am ever bored it's my own fault. There are always things or people around me that I can entertain myself with and its in this time that I got most of "The Alchemist" through. When I was younger I would spend a lot of time with my dad, which translates into spending a lot of time in the car during tax season when the only entertainment was the radio or the cd you popped in. This would be insufficient so you need a book or homework, but a book is preferred.
After the tour I met up with Hung again for dinner which made for a great chat about chopsticks versus forks and knives. You see, he described how us Asians are more like birds because we pick at things with our chopsticks whereas everyone else seems more like a tiger cutting and grabbing at their food with forks and knives. I thought it was sweet and made me want to carry this practice on when I get back to the states. When eating with chopsticks I also feel myself eat slower.
On the tour, the same five men that cooked, managed the boat, cleaned, also performed a couple of songs including "Will you still love me tomorrow" and "La Bamba." They were a multi talented bunch.
Random- one thing I have noticed both here in Vietnam and in China is how at a certain hour- say around post lunch time people nap. As in they literally put their head on their desk and nap. The first time I noticed it was in Shanghai's airport as I passed by the door marked "security" and saw every soul inside (about six people) napping, which was a relief as you can imagine...
I boarded a sleeper bus last night at 730pm and arrived in Hoi An at 6am, they're quite comfortable too! It held around 40 people and you could actually lay down and sleep. My hotel was kind enough to check me in at that God forsaken hour and was able to nap a bit more. I had a whole free day in Hoi An so I woke up around lunch time and sat at a nice cafe called "Re-treat," which I would generally avoid because who wants to eat at an American named restaurant in Vietnam? But it was pretty tasty, I got my mango smoothie again (a daily ritual), tofu, and rice for under $3. After a long lunch and simultaneously filling out some postcards I took a stroll around a street where there were several stores offering clothing tailor fit (not sure if that's stated correctly). Then it started pouring like a mad man so I quickly retreated to the hotel from where I write to you.
Hoi An is a much quieter town than Nha Trang, with more bicycles and motorbikes on the streets. The heat is a killer though, within five minutes of standing outside you're whole body is drenched in sweat. Just when you're ready to run back to your hotel you realize that there's a cool breeze and shade along the roads. This place is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as My Son which I'll be touring tomorrow. Brief intro: "it is the major site in Vietnam from the ancient Champa Kingdom which flourished between the 2nd and 15th centuries. Descendants still live along the coast of Vietnam though they are now fuly integrated in Vietnamese society. It served as a religious and intellectual centre where Champa kings were crowned and buried"