My last few weeks were spent racing through the central area of Vietnam. Shame I had to move so fast really, it was a beautiful area covered in what’s been the best sand and wonderful food. Now I’m in the south central part of the country, much less scary than the less South Central I lived in. The central coast was home to many large cities of the Open Bus tour, so there were quite a bit of foreigners and took me quite a bit of walking to get to some good, cheap local food.
Outside of Nha Trang I’ve been in random seaside towns or at worst for crowds, Vietnamese resort towns. They are amusing in an entirely different way. It usually still means mediocre, expensive food sadly. There are still the crowds, if not more so because of the tour buses. I enjoyed watching a bunch of Vietnamese tourists and locals mix as they rollerbladed along promenades in obstacle courses. Their wheels even lit up in neon technicolored moving lights, like everything else in this country.
What are the differences then between a Vietnamese crowded beach and a foreign one you might ask? The Vietnamese tourist beaches though, there is generally trash everywhere. This is a beautiful country but those who live here do not seem to want to take care of it. I worry when I see lots of broken glass everywhere. There are generally seafood restaurants everywhere; shacks, on tarps on the beach, in things that look like hotels or homes, and anywhere else you might take a gander. I have partaken in the various offerings, often including fresh tanks of still squirming fare. This was something I didn’t understand about all the foreign restaurants in Nha Trang. You have a bountiful sea, why are you concentrating so much on fries and meat? Seafood was cheaper, even in the foreign restaurants I noticed. Vietnamese people tend to not know how to swim, especially the women and children. You will see the latter groups wearing bright orange and green life vests that everyone seems to own or renting giant truck inner tubes. They also hide in the shade even in the setting sun.
There seems to be a preference in cheaper places to have windows, which is great when you’re by the sea and near a refreshing breeze. The thing I don’t get is why no one here uses screen windows. Instead there is a complex system of lots of bugs, mosquito nets over beds, geckos in the houses to eat bugs, cats to eat geckos, dogs to eat cats, and humans to eat everything but the mosquito nets.
Alas, not everything can be deliciously fresh seafood and calm, sea breezes. In one town, I managed to get propositioned by two drunk men outside a weird amusement park. The security guard nearby was too busy horseplaying with them to do much to either let me in the park or to stop the men. It is unfortunate to find out that the same lewd hand signals are used everywhere and that there are men like this allowed to be around places for children. A luxury coach full of children drove out of the park and right by me as all this was occurring. I had to forcefully shove the drunker of the two men away from blocking my bike and from his futile attempts to jump on the back. What I’ve read of the amusement park was that it was full of hilarious statues and second rate attractions. Well, that certainly wasn’t Disneyland and those were worse than second rate attractions.
A longer lasting problem has been that I have been stricken with food poisoning. Indeed, one would think this ails me more often given how I eat. I have had minor bouts with the most common traveler issue but this one has me sidelined for a few days. On the upside, what better place to be sick than one where I can chill out on a bed all day staring at the ocean?
Do not take the one or two bad things that happen to me in the wrong way. For every negative thing it feels like many more wonderful things happen. I greatly enjoyed chatting with the local woman swimming at the beach who at first approached me cautiously. She watched some other locals interact with me in a broken batch of Mandarin, Vietnamese and random English words. I guess there’s an hydroelectric plant nearby so a lot of the locals know a few Mandarin phrases. Soon though this woman gathered the courage up to come up and practice some English. In the middle of our conversation she jumped up and ran back to her bike to give me a perfectly ripe custard apple. There are few things more perfect than a delicious custard apple on the beach. I’ve also enjoyed chatting with the batch of child actors and their parents who are at my hotel. They seem ever so happy to wave hello every time they see me and ask how I’m doing.
I meant to take more time to read and do a bit of writing and drawing anyways so this has been a perfect opportunity. I have a few more beach towns to go, although the next two are one big foreign stop and one big Vietnamese/expat stop. I’ll enjoy this quieter beach while it lasts.