Quy Nhon, Vietnam
The hotel family seemed sad we did not buy tickets from them for our onward journey but I knew they were going to overcharge us. Alex & I prefer to spread our dollars around to others in town. Just because I showed the women how to tie their hair into a knot did not mean we had tied the knot.
Like the bus ride to Nha Trang, the ride to Quy Nhon was a cramped local bus. The vast flowing landscape of mountains, cows grazing on hills and water buffalos plodding through rice paddies scenery made up for my lack of space. Looking out my window made me feel as though I was watching a documentary on PBS or the Discovery Channel. Holy Shit! This is real life! No cinematography. We passed small villages with people going about their daily life that looked exotic to me. I could not get enough. It’s weird how the mind categorizes things. As we cruised along the South China Sea it reminded me of our drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in California despite heading North with the sea to the East rather than West. Ironically, the highway we were cruising along had the same name: HWY 1. As the caravan climbed through the mountains along the narrow cliffs, I was nervous as we passed other vehicles on a blind curves. Palm trees grew high up in the mountains in conjunction with giant boulders perched precariously over people’s houses. None of this seemed to be possible.
In Nha Trang, touts insisted I “needed” to go on the Easy Rider aka motorcycle journey to see the “Real Vietnam”. What the fuck is this? Fake Vietnam? I know Disney did not construct this! I told one of the touts, “I am surrounded by the real Vietnam.” Just like in America, even if you go to New York City instead of the Smokey Mountains, you still enjoy a slice of America. I am enjoying the parts of Vietnam I have the chance to see. I really don’t care if I’m on a motorbike or in a cramped minivan. In a way, I liked the minivan. Alex & I were the only Westerners with a bunch of Vietnamese passengers getting on and off at random intervals.
Alex & I arrived midday to Quy Nhon,. Touts surrounded the van like we were fish in a tank ready to scoop us up. Alex was still was feeling ill and needed to rest after checkin. This meant I was free to roam. The sun was blazing, I put on my new Vietnamese hat to protect me as I roamed the waterfront. I got smiles from all the ladies because they seemed happy I was also wearing their hat or they thought I looked like a complete idiot. Whatever. I was trying to protect myself from the sun.
The waterfront was beautiful. Like most beaches we have visited, Quy Nhon was a horseshoe cove with dramatically painted wooden fishing vessels. A new addition to the scenery were the smaller round wicker basket boats paddled by fisherman heading out to large square fishing nets hovering over the water like giant hammocks.When the fishermen made it out to their platforms they controlled the nets with a bicycle type of mechanism to lower and raise them. When they brought their catch to land, the fish were placed onto woven bamboo planks to dry in the sun.
Before dinner, Alex & I took a sunset stroll and found a market and bought more oranges. At this rate, I do not think Alex or I are at risk for scurvy. On the way back, there was a group of crazy college students sitting on a long bench hollering to get our attention. They seemed drunk. They were not hopped up on alcohol but on sugarcane. We joined them for a drink. A few of the guys ran to the beach to show off their roundoff back hand springs. I wondered if they were contenders for the upcoming Olympics.
Once the sun bid adieu, Alex was ready to as well. We retreated back to Barbara’s Guesthouse. I stayed up to look out to the sea from out patio. Quy Nhon is a sleepy fishing village today. I was too unsettled to go to sleep. Over 30 years ago, my crazy Uncle was here. I have memories of him when I was a little girl that freak me out. It is unnerving to think there may be people here who may have more traumatizing memories or tales due to his existence.