Up early, but not overly early. We’re on holidays, remember.
Normally I would roll out of bed, but that would require a bed that was conducive to that.
Seeing as that wasn’t the case, this morning I rolled ‘off’ the bed.
Ahhh, those ceramic floor tiles feel soft!
Down the lift, drop the key in the basket on the reception desk, out the door and……., Oh, it’s hot already. Hmmm, wasn’t expecting that…..
Anyway, we’re prepared for it. We have water. And, we have a plan. It’s not much of a plan, but we’ve thought of something to do.
And that is, we’re going for a walk. Hmmm, haven’t done much of that lately…….
The plan is we’re going to head North, past the town centre, and along the coast road. But we’ll only walk until we’ve had enough and then we’ll jump in a taxi and head back to the hotel for our late morning ‘recovery session’.
Sounds simple enough; we’ll see how we go….
Down the lane, out onto the main road, over the main road cause we’re sick of walking along the footpath, and onto the grassed area beside the beach. It’s also slightly cooler there. Slightly….
As we come up to the big roundabout, with that ordinary looking sculpture thing with the ball on top, which looks amazing at night, but not now, we notice a woman sitting on a chair beside the road.
She’s covered head to toe with clothing – which just makes me feel hotter – and she’s sitting in the shade of an umbrella. At her feet are ‘large-ish’ bottles containing some sort of liquid. She’s a bit too far away to know exactly what she’s doing there, but I can’t help thinking that there’d be cooler places to be sitting and doing, whatever she is doing.
We cross the road, after waiting for the only two cars that we’ve seen for a while, to pass us (it was actually easier crossing the road in HCMC because you just step out in amongst it) and head on into the large Square. Whereas it was packed with people last night, this morning it’s virtually empty.
We get to the middle and I stop and turn around to take a couple of photos.
One of the ‘sculpture thing’, and another of one of the big TV screens in the Square.
Just as I take the ‘TV’ one, a guy on a motorbike comes into shot and waves at me.
He laughs, I laugh, and he rides off.
He’s probably happy because he thinks he mucked up my photo. But he hasn’t, he’s actually improved it.
But, the best thing?
He’s given me a memory.
We continue on, up towards the street where we got the fruit smoothies from last night.
As we get closer we see another woman with those liquid filled bottles at her feet. As we walk past, still unsure what’s in them, we get this overpowering smell off petrol.
Ahhhhh!, they’re a mobile, mini type of petrol station!!!!!
People pull up and fill their bikes with a litre or two when they need it.
One of those little Vietnamese things…..
Just a little bit happy with the way my day has begun.
We walk on and decide to look for some breakfast. A banh mi being the preferred option.
We soon come across a cart, with the unmistakable rolls inside. Not many, but that must just mean that most of them have already been sold.
We ask the woman standing nearby for two.
A bit of an unusual look comes across her face, and then she says, “Sorry, no good. From yesterday.”
Wow, she’s not prepared to sell us anything because it’s not fresh.
“Oh, Ok, no problem. And thank you”, I say, more than just a little bit surprised by her honesty.
A little further up we see another banh mi cart. And this one’s doing a roaring trade.
We walk up, and by the time we get there, a guy is already clearing a table to make room for us. Perfect!
There’s quite a few people around and I suspect the hospital over the road may, in part, be responsible for that. The banh mi cart is also contributing.
Anyway, we sit and wait, while also being acknowledged by the locals. Once again, they seem interested to see us there.
Our breakfast arrives, and as has been the case previously, it’s good.
Empty stomach being dealt with, while people watching, in a very local environment. Yep, I’m having a pretty good day!
Energy levels restored, we continue our walk. We cut through to the beach road and head North. We pass lots of little shops and cafes on the small road that runs parallel with the beach road and there are lots of locals about, too. Most just sitting around talking, some playing board games, and even a few mending fishing nets.
And there are a few kids about, as well. Just playing simple games together in the shade of the trees. Yep, outside. And not a phone, or an electronic thingy whatever, to be seen. Remember those days…..?
Onto the beach road proper, we push on. Garden and park area on our left, road, and then beach, on our right. We occasionally get bits of shade to walk in, and occasionally look for bits of shade to walk in.
Lisa’s water is close to empty, while mine isn’t. Being the gentleman that I am, and knowing how resilient Lisa is………hmmm……., I cut back my intake. We haven’t yet gone far enough for Lisa to start unravelling……
We eventually get to a fairly large shaded area and enjoy the comfort of one of the concrete bench seats……
The scenery ain’t half bad, either. The beach is empty, apart from quite a few of those bamboo type umbrellas, along with what looks like a fairly sizable restaurant / bar set up on the sand. Out to sea are a couple of large ships, as well as some much smaller Vietnamese fishing boats. We can see the peninsula over the water, and we can also see the coastline stretch back and around, from where we’d come.
Well, that’s what I was looking at.
Lisa’s interest was piqued by the wedding cars that were coming out of a nearby hotel.
“Ooooh, a wedding!”, she says, while taking a drink of my water.
“Hmmm, yes…., a wedding”, I respond, enthusiastically…… Wondering if the groom really understands what he’s getting himself in to…..
Wedding cars gone, comfort of concrete bench wearing thin, we continue on our way.
Eventually the garden area on our left comes to an end, and it opens up to several shops and restaurants.
We find a café. A bit more upmarket than I’d prefer, but after looking at the intrepid one, as well as my dwindling bottle of water, it’ll have to do.
“Caphe sua da?”, I ask. Which was a question that really didn’t need to be asked.
“Yes please!”, she says, with eyes all lit up like she’s just seen a wedding go past.
Up a couple of stairs and we’re soon sitting in a shaded courtyard type of set up. It looks a bit touristy, but it’s ‘local’ touristy. Apart from one western couple to my left.
Caphe sua da’s ordered, and delivered, along with complimentary cold waters. She ain’t getting this water….
It was a nice place to just sit and relax. Although, at that particular point in time, any place to sit and relax would have been nice. Did I mention it was hot?
While we were sitting there, a local walked in. He made his way over to some of the locals at the other tables. He had something in his hand but I couldn’t work out what it was.
After the locals had politely declined his approaches, he turned and walked towards us.
It was then that I worked out what he was carrying.
A fairly large, black and brown coloured, bird. Being carried upside down by it’s legs.
And very much alive.
With hand gestures and arm movements, he asks if I would like to buy it?
Not having to think too long about my answer, I reply with a “no thank you” and a shake of the head.
Just another one of those Vietnam moments…..
Bird man gone, our attention is drawn to Mr and Mrs Western couple. They’re trying to sort out the bill. And while they’re both in pants, she’s the one that’s actually ‘wearing’ them. She seems a little confused with the notes.
I consider going over to lend a hand, but she scares me a little. His lack of input into the confusion probably confirms my fears.
They, sorry, she, sorts it out in the end and they’re on their way leaving via the entrance at the other end of the café; not the beach road end.
A few minutes later, our caphe sua da’s are finished, our bill fixed up, with a minimum of fuss, and we’re back out on the beach road.
And walking towards us? Mr Western tourist! Alone!
A bit, actually, a lot, confused, I ask him if he’s lost?
“No”, he says.
“Oh, Ok….. but where’s your wife?”, I ask, even more confused now.
“Oh, we got in a taxi out the front because my wife wanted to go up to the bridge that goes across to the peninsula, to take photos. But as we took off, I told her that I wanted to take photos of some other landmarks, first. She then stopped the taxi and told me to go off and do it on my own, because she was going to the bridge”, he says, matter of factly.
“Ohhhh, right……”, I say, thinking about that ‘pants’ thing again.
Anyway, we chat for a while. Probably because his wife wasn’t there…..
Turns out they’re Dutch and they’re not only here on holiday, but also to visit his wife’s daughter who’s living in Vietnam at the moment. They’re spending a few days in Quy Nhon, before moving on, and then eventually doing the family thing. And apparently, this is not their first visit to Vietnam, either. They’ve visited the daughter here before.
The confusion over the paying of the bill, now has me even more confused. On a first visit, yes, understandable. On subsequent visits? Yeah……., nuh…..
Chat done, we wish him all the best; mainly with his wife; and continue our journey to wherever it’s taking us.
Past more shops, restaurants, whatever, until we get to a small roundabout. We have two choices; follow the road around to the left, or, follow the road around to the left. Yep, not really sure why there was a roundabout there….
It obviously didn’t get used too much, because on the other side of the roundabout, actually on the road, there was a woman tending to her squid, which were drying in the sun, on things that they use to dry squid in the sun…….
We decide to take the road around to the left, surprisingly…… and then turn left again at the next intersection. This, I believe, and hope, will eventually take us back towards the town centre.
A little further on we come across a shop selling water. Which is very fortunate seeing as my water is just about finished…..
No point mucking around with small bottles, we get a large one, and have a bit of fun with the locals who own the shop, in the process.
Not sure what they, or we, were laughing about, but it was fun all the same.
A ‘cam on’, and a few smiles; perplexed locals and confused, but happy, foreigners, part ways.
We reach a road that runs down to what looks like might be a boat harbour. Not having quite walked far enough yet, we go down for a closer look. Sure enough, it is. A fence and a gate, which we could have easily walked through, cause us to think we can’t. So we don’t. But from where we stand, we can see a large cargo ship, as well as heaps of traditional type Vietnamese fishing boats in various sizes. Again, it’s that contrast that you see so often in Vietnam. And it’s something that I find so interesting.
I think the twenty or so local guys, that were sitting and chatting just behind where we were standing, also found the scene in front of them interesting. Or perhaps confusing. Or perhaps both.
Not sure they see too many tourists up this way….
Back up to the road that we think will return us to the town centre, we continue our walk. Changing sides of the road occasionally looking for extra shade. The intrepid explorer is almost at the end of her tether, but, to her credit, she pushes on.
We feel like we’re heading in the right direction but every now and then we get a glimpse of the water. We seem to be heading further away from it. That’s not good…..
To try and get us back on track, we turn left down a side street and then right to straighten ourselves up again. We end up having to do this several times. We’re much further away than I realised, and even though we are heading in the right direction, we’re making it longer than it really needs to be. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun, and we’re enjoying it. Well, I am, and I think Lisa is.
Finally, it happens. I’d been waiting for it.
“My legs are really sore, can we get a taxi?”, the obviously now, spent, one says.
Personally, I wanted to finish what we’d started. But I knew that wasn’t an option now. I’d pushed her, and she’d done well. But the horse was now dead, and you know what they say about dead horses and flogging them….
“Yep, no problem”, I say. But it turned out there kind of was.
The countless taxis that had been driving past us had now disappeared. And any that went past, already had people in them. Always the way…..
We keep walking. And looking.
Finally, we get lucky. But not that lucky. We manage to hail a taxi just as we come up towards the big roundabout next to the Square. Yep, about 20 minutes to go and we finally get a taxi. We jump in and two minutes later we’re back at the hotel. Hot, tired, sore, tired and hot. Absolutely knackered.
But happy. And fulfilled. It had been fun and I felt that I had a bit more of an understanding of Quy Nhon.
Several hours of rest and recovery followed, before it was time to get out and see some more.
And what better way to do that than by going for a walk. Hmmmm……
This time we head south. But we don’t get very far. The heat, the previous walk, the sore legs and the lack of food (slept through lunch) have all conspired to make the intrepid explorer a little unhappy.
Salty, clear liquid out of the eyes, unhappy. It’s a sorry sight…..
We stop at a small shop and buy a couple of cold drinks. As well as a small snack. Can’t remember what it was but it made the tears go away.
Walk abandoned, we head back via the beach. We then drop into Barb’s Place, which is a backpackers / tourist info / travel agent / tour organiser place next to the Pub (where we had drinks last night), just around the corner from the hotel. We ask about arranging a car and driver to take us over to the peninsula the next day.
Three to four hours for about $60 US. Seemed alright at the time, but in hindsight was probably a bit expensive. A little too tired and emotional at that particular moment, perhaps…..
Anyway, deal done, we go back to the hotel to grab our bathers and then head back down to the beach. Time for a swim. And to cool down.
It works a treat. Water is warm and refreshing and it’s nice to just relax for a bit.
Well, when we weren’t trying to get out of the way of a few ugly looking brown jellyfish. They may not have been harmful or dangerous, but I wasn’t going to confirm it one way or the other.
Suitably refreshed, we stand on the sand to drip dry. A few minutes go by when I notice three locals, two guys and a girl, walking towards us.
“I think we’re going to practice our English”, I say to Lisa.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing.
The first guy (I can’t remember his name) asks us if we’d mind talking to them for a few minutes. No problem at all, I love talking to the locals.
His English is very good and he comes across as pretty confident. But there might be a reason for that. He’s been out with his boss this afternoon. He’s trying to get a promotion at work, and one of the things he has to do to help with that prospect, is go out drinking with him. Apparently he’s had 15 beers. I congratulate him on that. I’d give him the promotion on that alone!
We then talk to the girl, Truc, and then the second guy, Vu.
I can’t remember everything we talked about (Lisa will have a better recollection) but I really enjoyed it. As I said, I love talking to the locals, learning about their lives. I just find it so interesting. Probably because it’s just so different to ours. In the end, we probably spoke for an hour. Truc and Vu then asked if we’d mind catching up again the next day, and perhaps go and get a coffee.
Would we like that!????
So we arranged to meet again at the same spot at 4.30pm.
We bid our farewells, and headed back to the hotel, pretty happy with our day.
But more importantly, feeling pretty happy with Quy Nhon.
A quick shower and we were off again. Time for dinner, and just for something different, we decide to walk into town.
On the way out we decide to give Google translate a work out, and we drop a bag of dirty clothes off at reception. Seemed to go well. But dropping the clothes off is just one part of the deal…..
Back onto the main road, but on the other side, walking along the path through the grassed area. The sprinklers are on, but the only reason I notice them is because they have lights attached to them. The lights also change colour. It looks nice, and on the whole, the way they light up the city at night, is something that Quy Nhon does well.
We walk past the Square and then up the street where we got our fruit smoothies the night before. I consider a little side street that we walked down last night, for dinner. All little street food places that seemed to specialise in, what I think, are sea snails.
That, however, would probably finish the intrepid explorer off. For one, they’re snails. And for two, they’re from the sea. Yep, a winning combination…..
We come across a fairly large pho restaurant. Looks clean and tidy, and more importantly, there’s a few locals inside. This’ll do.
There are three or four options to choose from and we both end up going with the same choice; the ‘meaty type’ looking one.
Not 100% sure what it is, but 100% sure it was going to be too difficult to actually find out. All part of the fun, though.
It’s nice. Not great, but alright.
The freshly squeezed orange juice is good, too. And 80 000 dong for the lot; well that makes it better still.
As we’re finishing up, I notice something that makes me stop and think. One of the guys that works there is putting bags of frozen food into a chest freezer at the back of the restaurant. Not sure what it is, or where it’s been, but it makes me think. Hmmm……
Dinner done, we begin our walk back. Geez, we’ve walked a bit today…..
We get to the Pub (incidentally, it’s called the T.O.P Pub) and decide to finish off our night the same way we finished off the previous night. This time they have a cover band playing, so Lisa is very happy.
Me? – Mehhh…..just background noise…..
Again, we have a good time. And it doesn’t take much; a beer in your hand, watching the locals enjoying their night.
Simple stuff. But fun.
One of the things I found really interesting was watching the motorbike parking guy. Customers pull up out the front on their bikes and it’s parking guy’s responsibility to park, or kind of stack, the bikes neatly and compactly, ensuring they don’t take up any more room than necessary. As well as not getting in the way of the Pub’s neighbours.
I find it interesting for a couple of reasons.
One, how well and efficiently he does it. As well as how constant it is.
And two, the differing attitudes of the bike’s owners.
Some treat him with the utmost of respect, while others treat him like……, well……., something you occasionally have to scrape of your shoes.
And generally, the ones that weren’t overly kind, were of the young, attractive female variety.
Well, they thought they were attractive…..
People watching done, I grabbed a couple of ‘take aways’ and we headed back to the hotel to wet some socks. Relaxing on the bed, television on, beer in hand. It was nice.
The overwhelming urge to get to the toilet. With some urgency, too.
Yep, the pho had worked its way through me rather quickly.
And it exited even quicker.
Job done, and relief attained, it was then Lisa’s turn.
Yep, same scenario.
Couldn’t help but think back to that freezer at the restaurant.
Apart from that little issue, it had been a good day. Perhaps not completely and utterly in love with Quy Nhon, but very happy, nonetheless.
I felt like I was ‘getting’ the place, and I felt very comfortable.