Last days in Quy Nhon 

Last night I had talked to the receptionist about my futile search of the Han Mac Tu grave. In a way I really wanted to see it now and it must be possible to find it.

Which I did easily today after the lengthy explanation the evening before. Because I had already passed it. Not just once but a couple of times actually. I was sitting across from it yesterday while having coffee and I just didn’t recognize it.

So since I knew where to go I went for breakfast first. What better way to start the day than with a delicious Pho.

It had been a good idea to eat before because again I had to push my bicycle. At least it was only a small hill. Soon I parked it and walked the rest of the way. If you find that the woman on top looks like Holy Mary, congratulations you are right. He was Catholic. I have noticed more and more Catholic churches the further south I go. So this was not something that should astonish me, but it did. Han Mac Tu died at the age of 28 of lepra by the way. I couldn’t tell you any of his poems, but they are still taught in schools in Vietnam today.


From the grave I took the longer route back to the bicycle to discover the rest of the small hill. It had a great view over the beach, a small temple and a Catholic church. Except for the view no picture is worth posting here though.

Once I returned down to the crossing, I went for an ice coffee to the little coffee shop. Today I had the place to myself. My bicycle was parked as usual right outside.

  

Since it was again overcast and grey I went back to the hotel and decided to have a pedicure at the place I saw on the first evening.


No one spoke English and I still didn’t speak Vietnamese, but we could communicate easily and when I was done I walked out with baby smooth soles and red toe nails.

While I was worked on another woman came in who got her hair done. She spoke a bit of English and asked me if I wanted to eat curry. She had a small curry shop up at the mall.  Always open to new suggestions I followed her on the bike and ended up at her place. The fish curry I tried was very tasty.


Since I was already in the mall I thought I would get some snacks for my train ride tomorrow. The supermarket was on the second level and I explored every aisle. It’s always so interesting to see what products other countries have. It took me the better part of an hour to do that and when I ended up at the cash register on the third level I noticed that there was also a movie center in the building. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to check if there were any English movies and surprise, surprise they showed ‘Jurassic World’. I bought my ticket and had two wonderful entertaining hours.

For dinner I cycled to a restaurant close to my hotel. The Alaca had mostly ‘hot pot‘ but also other things. So I tried the grilled octopus with special sauce. Special meant only extra spicy. I could breath fire after, the octopus was grilled to perfection though.  The next day was already my last one. In the early evening I had to take the night train to HCMC (=Saigon). I spent a lazy morning in bed, posting a bit and also watching another episode of GoT. Around noon I checked out and took the bicycle once more. A last coffee at my favorite place, followed by a sugar cane juice at the beach. 

One last dip in the sea, and a short stay in front of the Seagull hotel as the only tourist on the sun bed, I read my book a bit more and then it was time to go. At the Hai Huong Hotel I could have a shower and wash my hair before leaving. So prepared I was ready for the train ride and HCMC. Yours, Pollybert

 

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Traveling South

My next destination was a small beach town call Quy Nhon. I had heard about it while visiting Sa Pa from a fellow traveler who also wanted just to relax without masses of tourists.

When I woke up that morning I noticed that the electricity was down and later heard that the government shut it down for the day in Hoi An. It didn’t really matter to the people though, life still went on as before.

I took the bicycle and went to the old town, sat down for coffee next to the Japanese covered Bridge with a view on the river. It had something magical to sit on one of the small plastic chairs and watch the locals going about their business. They meet for coffee before going their separate ways to work. It’s something I do at home too but not often enough. The day starts so much better when you see your friends first thing in the morning.

Back at the Homestay I finished packing and around 11 my shuttle came to bring me to the train station. The shuttle turned out to be a private car and we picked up only one more passenger along the way.

This was a woman who needed to go to the airport and while we couldn’t communicate she was super friendly and always touching my hands and my arms. Not in a weird way, more like letting me know that she appreciated my ‘Xin chao’ (hello).

At the train station the usual hustle and bustle awaited me and with only an hour delay I boarded the train. I had booked just a seat since the journey would take about 5 hours, so there was no need for a bed.

The wagon was full of Vietnamese, including a large group of high school teachers who traveled to HCMC (=Saigon). Again I had to find out that the English teacher was not able to communicate (at the Farmstay one of the receptionists was an English teacher and we talked a lot for her to practice; was a slow going I can tell you. But it reminded me of my high school teacher who couldn’t speak and had an appalling pronunciation). Nonetheless with the help of the English teacher I could tell the chemistry teacher what to do with his iPhone. Everyone was lovely, they offered me some lunch and later helped me get off the train. The little blue chair was used by their tour guide. And the man in front with the jeans shorts and I had a good chuckle when someone behind me was snoring so loud that the wagon fell silent.

Once I arrived in Quy Nhon I took a taxi to the Hai Huong Hotel. The first thing I learned about non tourist places was that everything closed early. So after checking in and having a shower I rushed downstairs to ask at reception where I could still get dinner.

I walked a couple of blocks, saw a beauty salon on the way (which I kept in mind) and came to a bigger street leading to the beach. There I saw a small place that looked inviting and had one Western looking guest inside.

Since tourists were rare I asked if I could join him. Hans from Munich was a fountain of information due to his travels in South East Asia the last couple of years.

After an interesting dinner, a duck soup which included all the bones (the duck was cut in small pieces and then cooked; no de-boning here), and a shared pitcher  I called it a day and went back to my home for the next four nights. Yours, Pollybert

Life’s a beach

After the long day before we spent the next day on the beach. While I was taking in the cultural and historical beauty of Granada, Annemarie was supporting the Spanish economy. She went shopping in the nearby mall La Cañada. I just read this morning that Spain’s deficit reached 92% of their GDP. So they really need every Euro we can spare, it’s our duty as European citizen. Point is, we were both exhausted and needed a break.

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I finished reading ‘The song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller. Although I know of course the end of Patroclus and Achilles, I cried nonetheless. The last 50 pages of the book were super emotional. It deserved nothing less than a good cry.

This picture was done after my crying; as you can see I got a really nice tan.

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Annemarie went for her long walk on the beach and brought back some pictures.

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And another picture from the walk home. I love these flowers and have the blue ones on my balcony. Would love it if they could look as lush as here.

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Dinner was as usual a relaxed affair. I even found time to take a picture of my plate. We had Italian night and the buffet was great.

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We had an enjoyable evening. Can you tell? Yours, Pollybert

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Vamos a la playa

It was planned to make another trip today since the weather forecast promised more clouds and rain. And then the sun was out when we woke up and the sky was blue so that we instantly (almost) decided to go to the beach.

I had a very long breakfast again while Annemarie went to leave the table early. The good girl is always waiting for me to finish blogging.

Finally we made our way to the beach, stretched out in the sun and fell asleep respectively finished ‘The Hitchhiker’. I am not sure what to think about it. Is the answer to everything really ’42’? And do I need a towel for hitch hiking? On the other hand when would I go hitch hiking? In the galaxy? So maybe no need to worry about it… But just in case will read the other books in the series as well.

I started with a different book on the beach though, ‘The song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller. I love all kinds of historical novels and this one I found at home (which means I bought it a long time ago). Figured it’s the perfect beach read and so far so good.

Besides sleeping and reading all
afternoon we also made it to a beach bar for an afternoon Sangria and a San Pellegrino.

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20130908-213700.jpgDoesn’t it just look perfect?

Tonight was Gala Dinner at our hotel and since we starved all day, we tugged in at dinner. And this time some of the food even made it onto my camera.

20130908-213928.jpgAnd here is desert consisting of maracuja and a chocolate mousse cake.

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20130908-214047.jpgOriginally the cake looked better. We had some problems putting it on the plate. So you see, one can have its cake and eat it too.
Yours, Pollybert

Lazy day and night

Another lazy day in Paradisi. We had a long breakfast, were the last to leave as usual and then went back to the room for Andrea to have a little yoga session.
We were only interrupted by the cleaning ladies, but the were nice enough to come back later.

The English tourists at our hotel were lounging around the pool, getting a sunburn when we left for the beach. What is the point of going on vacation to an island with lots of beaches when you stay by the pool all day long? Not that I miss them at the beach, just asking.
The stoney beach we enjoy seems to be the private beach of Paradisi. All day people come and go, jump into the sea for quick dip and then dash back to whatever they were doing. We met the waitress from our beer place and some youngsters from the main square here.
There is also a cool wind blowing all day which makes coming out of the sea feel cold. All in all the name Paradisi is well chosen, it is a lovely place.

I finished ‘Life after life’ by Kate Atkinson yesterday. It is a bit like ‘Groundhog day’ from the concept but it is also so much more. I loved it, loved the ending, was talking endlessly with Andrea about it (I am sure she didn’t care, but she also didn’t mind). It is a book that stays with you. And the ending was great.
I have embarked on ‘Furious Love’ by Sam Kashner now, the story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The thing is that I have this book in hard cover so I cannot carry it around with me everywhere.
Therefore I started a second book on my e-reader, ‘Requiem’ by Lauren Oliver. It’s the third installment in the Delirium trilogy, I loved the first two books. The concept of a world without feelings is disturbing and although we have all been through heart-ache (I know I have been through my share), it’s not something I can imagine.

So while the waves were high and the wind was blowing, there was lots of time to contemplate life.

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It’s Andrea in the foreground, fighting the waves.

After an ice coffee at the Whispering Sea and more time on the beach, we went back to our hotel to enjoy a beer before dinner while waiting for the after sun lotion to do its job.
We decided then to watch the sunset, something we hadn’t had the time so far on this vacation. On the way to Paradisi village we stopped thus at this place.

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Sunset was great, just not as spectacular as we thought. The sun did not set in the sea but actually behind an island called Simi.

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We also tried a new restaurant last night, another ‘Paradise’.

20130629-092356.jpg Dinner was super delicious and this time we even took pictures.

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20130629-092518.jpg We tend to eat lots of meze and no main dish. And always Greek salad and Tzatziki which doesn’t leave room for lots of other choices. Still, we manage to fill the table.

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Yours, Pollybert