Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Bai Xep Day 2 Gone Swimming ....

Yes, 4 am is too early to get up.

In principle.

Cause I can always sleep later but I can NOT miss another sunrise.  

One's gotta have one's priorities in order, LOL.

Yes, that IS the moon at the top edge of the picture above

I'm back on my baloncy, sipping some ruou vang do, watching the bay slowly brighten, a fisherman cleaning his net, a village woman walking down to the shore to bring a bucket of water home.  What I hear is harder to describe.  The steady soothing periodic lapping of baby waves on the sand. A distant low droning of fishing boat engines on the bay.  Dogs playing and barking and the occasional crow of a rooster.    That's it. 
No honking, no tire-rolling noises, no truck-back-up-beeping, no cell phone rings, no exhasperated people shouting at each other.

When having dinner with A&B last night
(Note the US flag on the T-shirt. In VIETNAM)
(OMG, it was A&B&C at that table, LOL), one of those two first-time Vietnam visitors mentioned that people here seem to be much happier than people in the US.  I can't judge this, but I know that people seem much happier here than people in Canada.  The amount of laughing here I can only compare to that in First Nations families.   

What does it all mean?   That all that progress of iPhones and Cadillacs and competitive business system and whatever has killed the joy in life?   It definitely seems that way.....

Whatever it is.  I was relieved to have my personal impression confirmed by that comment.   And YES, there is one major reason why I keep coming back here.  And it is NOT the temperatures or the beaches, although they certainly don't keep me away ;-)

Time to go for a walk and a swim, I think ;-)

Yes, that is my shirt in the bottom right corner
Gone Swimming !

I'm sure there are many MORE beautiful swimming spots out there in the world, but I haven't found them yet, so this one will have to do for now, LOL

Back in my room.  OMG, it's still friggin early!

Shave.  Shower.


Scrambled egg on baguette, yogurt, and another one of those Viet drip-coffees strong enough to raise the dead or to kill the living.

But amazingly enough:

I sleep for another 3 hours after that coffee, LOL

When I head downstairs to the bathroom, I realize that someone had been in my hut and cleaned it.  I DID sleep WELL, LOL.

Unfortunately, when the cleaning angel left, she (not sexist, just very much more likely) bolted the 'villa' door from the outside. So I end up climbing out the window.  

What is it about Vietnam and being locked inside?  Sleeping receptionists everywhere blocking the lobby until 6 am.  That episode of being locked out on my balcony at 5 am in Ha Noi last year. The roller shutter a couple of days ago.  And now trapped by the cleaner.   I need to watch out !


Time for a G&T

During this I get antsy.  I can't just hang out at the beach all day.  OK, there are worse fates, but ..... you know ..... I am NOT a beach tourist.

OMG. I napped again.

I go for a tentative exploratory walk to the other side of the village. 

 There are few clouds in the sky right now so it's HOT.

A villager is 'cutting' a HUGE 30 kg block of ice.  As in Sok San Village on Koh Rong, it seems to be easier to have the stuff delivered than to make it yourself. I almost stop in my tracks when I see the TOOL that he is using to cut the big block into precise thick slices.

Internet picture, but the tool he used looked just the same.
When I come back to my place I see a red-haired pale young guy slowly stepping onto the beach and then SPRINTING to the water.   Hmm.  Behavioral Handicap?  Who knows & who cares.

10 minutes later I'm off to go for a swim at my favourite location.

I step onto the sand.....


HOT !!!!  HOT COALS !!!!!


I don't take a camera and let's just say that even sitting on the big beach rocks with dripping wet swim trunks can give you well-poached eggs within seconds.  

Back at the hostel, I consult the 'library' of left behind books and choose and English translation of a US semi-trashy serial murder vs cop mystery.  NO, I don't have peculiar taste in books but 95% of the remaining books are either travel guides of Indochina (I am my own travel guide ;-) or books in Danish.


Where did the day go?????

It's RAINING !  (not that this fact disturbs the Viets, LOL)

The rain soon stops and I head to a table to get better WiFi reception.  Steve, the owner, walks up and chats.  Smart guy, nice guy. He and his 'friend' created THREE of these hostels within the last 3 years.  When I ask him whether all the stress is worth it because he really came for THIS (I point at the above pictured beach) in the first place, he only points out that at home he would be working just as much, only for someone else, in a much less desirable country & climate, and with much less desirable co-workers.  

His employees come up in the conversation and when he says "If Bao ever decides he doesn't want to work for me anymore, I will never find a replacement for him".  I know exactly what he means.  It's not only Bao's English skills (In all my 5 visits to Vietnam I have NEVER seen a person here handle the English language as effortlessly as this maybe 25 year old kid.  Add to that his gift of entering a room and make everyone feel at ease right away.  
(OK, I admit it:  He's pretty too, LOL.)

So I'm sitting here at the 'hostel' with Vietnamese guys playing guitar (really well) next to me, eating a seafood noodle dish, hearing the waves lap onto the beach 20 meters away from me, drinking my CAD$ 2.20 glass of white wine, and I'm realizing that THIS LIFE will end soon I'll be back in Vancouver in 12 days.  OMG !   

Seafood pasta 

I go back to the bar to get my second glass of white wine for dinner and they've run out. 
Completely OUT ! 
That's OK, I've had that problem in quite a few restaurants that I started frequenting.  They're just not prepared for me, LOL.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Moving from Quy Nhon to Bai Xep. Why? You'll see ;-)

I wake up early in my hotel in Quy Nhon.
I notice the first signs of dawn and am anxious to get to the beach to follow that Vietnamese ritual of beginning the day by watching the sun rise over the ocean.


I'm TRAPPED.   The very sparse clouds in the EAST are turning pink. The sun is about to rise over the ocean, one of my favourite spectacles in Vietnam.  For at least half an hour, dozens and dozens of Vietnamese have been walking by my balcony towards the beach.  

But I can't get out !  This time it's not that I'm afraid of waking the receptionist sleeping in the lobby. NO.  The entrance door has been closed with a roller shutter/blind.  How VERY infuriating !

Blame this feeling of being trapped, which reminds me of life in Vancouver, for choosing THIS particular time to do IT AGAIN.  OK, there is another reason ;-)

Zulema is fighting fires in central BC while her parents have been evacuated TWICE now, first to Williams Lake, but then that town needed to be evacuated too.  I can tell by Zu's e-mails that she needs a break badly.  I can't provide her with a break, but I can help her with something to look forward to.

So I do it.  Vancouver - Taipei - Bangkok and return with a travel itinerary that includes Vietnam.  January 2018.


So I can open the roller shutter from the inside, but I can close neither the shutter nor the door from the outside ;-(.  Well, I could jump out when the roller shutter is coming down from the top, but then I don't know when these people open it again and I might be locked out for who knows how long ;-(

I finally get out at 6:30 am.  Too late for the sunrise, but not too late to walk along the beach to get my feet wet.  

6:30 am  (LOL)
 Travel Agent!  I want to complain !  The ocean is too WARM. LOL.  



I'm walking over to Barbara's Kiwi Connection & Backpackers Hostel for some breakfast.  A man can't live on yogurt and red wine alone, LOL.

I order a coffee and an egg sandwich.   I ask for black&hot coffee.  OMG, this is brilliant.  I'm getting REAL VIETNAMESE COFFEE !   And she already pre-guessed that THIS coffee will be too STRONG for me to drink without sugar so she brought some anyway.  And she's right.  The coffee is GREAT but it does need a LOT of sugar ;-)

The sandwich looks to be Hong Kong style, i.e. the crust removed.  But the eggs were freshly cooked because the inside of the sandwich is still warm !

The second surprise is that the laptop I have with me to finish my translation has remembered the internet connection from last November.

I do have to interrupt the translating a short while later to head home because I notice that the Viet coffee has an eerie effect.  

WTF?   There should be a rotor-rooter symbol on those coffee cups.


Time to start thinking about checking-out and moving to the new place.

11:25 am
I’m a bit stressed.  That bloody still unfinished translation is weighing on my mind.

I’ve checked out and am walking towards Seagull Hotel because I’m willing to bet that there will be tons of taxis waiting.  And I’m correct.

Not my pic, not my taxi
I take the first one that looks at me, it’s one of the typical green ones. I’m a tiny bit wary how much the 11.5 km ride is going to cost.  Not because of the ride there today and back on Friday, but also because I have no idea whether I will be to rent a scooter at the end of the world over there and I might have to take that taxi more often.  

The scenery is not at all what I expected.  What looks on a map like a ride along the coast is actually a ride through mountains.  MUST take pictures of this when/if I ever have a scooter here and can stop wherever I want.

The taxi stops by a tiny side road that heads downhill into a village.  He stops RIGHT IN FONT of a sign that says “Life’s A Beach 5KM”.  WTF?  My GPS tells me that I am where I am supposed to be, so I pay the man.  152,000 VND for the 20-minute ride, that’s less than US$ 7.   NOT a bad price.   When I give him 13,000 VND extra (50 cents) as a tip, he beams at me and says Cam On Nhieu.  By now I know that the Nhieu means ‘very much’. 

THIS is it?
I walk down into the ever-narrowing streets of the village.  It reminds me of Sok-San Village on Koh Rong, LOL.  Almost every house has a store catering to the tourists.
When the narrow road ends at a T-divide and I don’t know which way to turn, an older Vietnamese man sitting right there noticest, emits a grunt, and uses his chin to indicate the right direction.
But I’m still not convinced.  Is this right?   Is this where I’m supposed to be?  There are other backpacker hostels around here, maybe that nod just sent me to the wrong one?
Am I ever in the right place, LOL
The road comes to an end at a beach.  A REAL Viet beach with the typical blue Viet fishing boats in a bay in front of an island. The wall on the right side of the road says “Life’s a beach”. 

OMG, I didn’t think it would be THIS nice.
My room (actually a whole bamboo-structured and -thatched 2-level ‘Villa’) is ready. 
My 2-level beach hut
HOLY, this is amazing.   And it’s even cheaper than the beach hut on Koh Rong.

Only one problem.  My cell phone connects to the internet but my laptop doesn’t.  WHAT kinds of morons is Microsoft employing all over the world?????   If a simple Android phone can get WiFi, WHY can a modern PC with the world’s ‘most advanced’ (LOL) operating system NOT do the same?????

Oh SCREW it and MS at the same time.  I came here to get away from all that BULLSHIT.  

Only one solution to this problem:

Put on the LOUD new swim trunks, only take smokes and a camera, and forget about all those 'civilized world' problems for a while.

And that is surprisingly easy here, LOL.  

The water is perfect and the bay is still authentic (on first glance).   I’ve only been here for one hour but I’m already guessing that I might never get back to Koh Rong again.   It’s THAT nice here ;-)

There:  isn't that just a tiny bit better than dealing with the intrinsic flaws of a retarded operating system?

Time to check in back to reality (or is what we think of reality actually just a bad dream?)

The internet still doesn’t work.   No problem.  I’ll eat something, drink something, and hop on the scooter to ride into town to the Kiwi Cafe to e-mail away my translation.

1) Eat.

My seafood pizza arrives.   It’s HUGE, LOL.  Good thing it’s only sparsely topped with prawns and squid.  That way I can concentrate the toppings on HALF the pizza and not be bloated senseless for the rest of the day. 

2) Ride to Internet Country 
I jokingly told Bao, one of the bar guys, that I need one of two things NOW, either a scooter or internet.  He gave me a scooter, although it took him a while to figure out how to lift the seat to get to the gas tank.
As if these roads aren't dangerous enough already:  Bovine Hazard Conditions
At Barbara's Kiwi Cafe, right after I've e-mailed my translation, another one of life's miracles is revealed to me.

I've ordered some white wine (She understood my ruou vang trang !) and chocolate ice cream.  The white Dalat wine is warm.   So just to avoid drinking warm white wine, I pour it over the chocolate ice cream and OMG.
The fruity Dalat white goes PERFECTLY with the chocolate ice cream.  From now on I'll order these two together ALL THE TIME ;-)

After the ice cream & wine extravaganza I find the gas station without problems.  Fill the tank and I should be good for a major part of the week.

Back in my hotel, the internet works for 5 minutes and cuts out again.  Oy vei, this is going to cost me nerves if it keeps going ;-)

Ah well, a ruou vang trang should calm those nerves ;-)

5:30 pm
It looks like rain.  Sipping wine and looking over the bay while the Viets dragged a giant speaker onto the beach to play Viet music is TIRING.  
Somewhere else.  The Viets are sitting down and singing happily

OMG OMG OMG.  I only just realized that the speaker they brought down to the beach is part of a KARAOKE system.  These guys must be GOOD, or maybe Viet music just sounds so strange to my ears that I didn’t even realize that it’s the guys on the beach singing and not a recording !

And I notice that I'm still in North American mode, even after 2 weeks. I'm worrying about things.  There is no fridge in my room and no hot water kettle. So, cold instant coffee and warm red wine?  What time is breakfast?  Should I even buy more wine if the glass of Dalat white wine here in the bar costs me 40,000 Dong (CAD$ 2.22).  Am I going to be as exhausted in the morning after sleeping under my mosquito net as in Koh Rong?


8 pm

That's it. I'm bushed.  Time to to crawl up the steep wooden stairs to my loft, slip under the mosquito net, and pass out to the sounds of Viet Karaoke.