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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Quy Nhon

So here I was in this quiet beach town with no tourists (I saw 10 all in all). This was going to be my relaxation after all my traveling. You can’t really say it out loud, but traveling is not relaxing. There is always something to do or see, to arrange a transfer or a hotel. Basically you never sit still and don’t do anything. So these four days were for me, to give myself a break.
Which meant sleeping in the first day. Which was a good plan but didn’t work. As usual I woke around 6am (why isn’t that happening at home?), updated the blog, watched an episode of GoT and just took my time.

In search of coffee I left the Hai Huong Hotel with the bicycle and made my way to the beach. And this was my first impression of the beach.

  
Really quiet, really no tourists but also no sun bed and umbrella. I stopped at a beach place (5 tables, plastic chairs and a guy with one of these ‘hot dog’ carts) and had an ice coffee. Looking at the beach I noticed that my beach vacation was going to be different than I imagined.

Since it started to drizzle I hopped on the bicycle to explore the city. Away from the beach I found a small coffee place that also had bathroom facilities (haha, sounds a lot grander than it was but long gone were the days in China with bathrooms everywhere).

When I left I was hungry and searched for something to eat. The first place that looked inviting was this little street place with excellent rolls!

  
  

They were just fantastic! Warm crunchy pancakes with bean sprouts on top, rolled in rice paper with lots of herbs and salad, served with a peanut/fish sauce. Just delicious!

Since the rain had stopped but it was still overcast I drove to the beach again and  decided on a sugar cane juice. I parked my bicycle and noticed that the only other guest of the place waved me over. I sat down at the table next to him and our communication consisted of me saying ‘Xin chao’ and him saying lots of stuff I didn’t understand. Quite funny really. I ended up giving him my phone to take a picture which he did (that’s my bicycle in the back). But then he indicated that he wanted me to take one of him. So I did.


When I left a bit later because the sun had finally come out he ‘told’ me that he had paid for my juice. Really lovely!

So off I cycled to a place on the beach where I could see other people. Still no tourists but at least the local youth was out. As I realized later, no one was on the beach during the day but the locals came out around 4-4:30pm. So there were people on the beach, I just needed to wait.

There were actually more a bit later but most were wearing swim vests and some went into the water fully dressed. So I being on the beach in my bikini was a bit of a curiosity.


Kids were coming up to me, trying to bury me in the sand or offering me chocolate. Three students came to practice English and one even had his homework with him which I had to correct. Everyone was so friendly and the students told me were to go for dinner, showed me the massage places on the  map so that I didn’t mind the interruption of my reading.

Once the sun went down I said goodbye and went in search of my dinner. Which I found at the other end of the beach (see, lots of people in this town).

  

Right at the sea I figured fish would be a good choice and it was. I had one (no clue which) with salad. I really liked the way it was served, just cut in the middle which made it perfectly grilled on both sides.

The next morning was overcast again so I decided instead of driving to the beach for coffee I would go and look at the grave of Han Mac Tu, a famous Vietnamese poet. On the map it was one of the sights to see and near my place. Off I went and got lost as usual. When I arrived at the indicated crossing where it should be there where two streets to take. One up and one straight. I took the high road, even asked someone if I was going to the right place, but they probably didn’t understand me and just said yes. After pushing my bike for more than 20 minutes I gave up. I took one picture of the town from above and decided this grave was not worth so much trouble.

When I was at the crossing again I tried the straight road (don’t want to give up after all) which didn’t lead anywhere and in the end I sat down at the café at the crossing and had an ice coffee.

After a second one (weather was still not great) I was hungry and drove 100m further to a street vendor. Since I didn’t know what to order I said everything. What came was rice with a piece of an onset, a piece if fried pork and a piece of fried chicken.

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By then it was still grey but in a lighter form. There was hope that the sun might come out after all. So I decided to go to the Seagull Hotel and ask for one of their sun beds. It was a really interesting discussion, I offering to pay for the bed, the employee telling me the beds were only for guests. In the end we settled on my using it for free so long as nobody else wanted it.

  

But I could only stay so long at the beach (will I ever do a beach vacation again?) and after an hour or two I was ready for a sugar cane juice. It was served with a dish of salt to cut the sugar.

In search of another thing to see I went for the Thi Nai Bridge. Something of it being the longest over sea bridge or so appealed to me. It was definitely worth seeing. Yeah, can’t really tell you anything about it because I never found it. But I found a massage place that was not on the map. When I passed it I decided to forget about the bridge, I was on vacation after all and have a massage instead. It was glorious!

Dinner were rolls again at the same place as the day before. They were as good and crunchy as I remembered them. After that I just cycled home and watched GoT. Yours, Pollybert

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

In Hoi An again

The most important appointment for the evening was the second fitting with the Bebe tailor. As soon as I had showered after my Cham Island adventure, I took one of the free bicycles from my Quynh Nahn Homestay and cycled into the old town. I also sent a text to Willemeijn, a Dutch girl I had met in my last day at the Farmstay.

At the tailor I had a big disappointment, I was just not happy with my clothes. I had told them that I wanted loose, wrinkle-free traveling clothes that were easy to wash and needed no ironing. Almost everything looked as if it was made to go to the office. That was definitely not what I ordered or what I had in mind. Because after a closer look the dress looked like the one they had drawn, I just hadn’t noticed that it would be so fitted. It didn’t match with what I had in mind. We settled on some alterations and in two cases that they would redo it. I was fine with that but couldn’t believe that it would work in the end. The next fitting would be at three in the afternoon the next day which didn’t leave a lot of time for other alterations if necessary.

When I was finally done I bicycled to Willemeijn’s tailor and together we went further into the old town. We had a lot of catching up to do since we had done different things in the meantime.

We went for dinner at a big place near the night market, recommend by Lonely Planet (which was noticeable by the crowds of Westerners) and I tried the Hoi An specialty of White Rose and pork with eggplant.

  

Willemeijn went for some rolls and stuffed squid.

  

Around 10pm we called it a night. I wanted to get an early start tomorrow to see the town in the morning. We agreed to meet at the beach around 1pm since her next fitting was at noon.

The next morning I bought my entrance ticket for the old town which included the visit of five sites. Hoi An town is on the Unesco World Heritage list and everything was within walking distance. I took once again the bicycle to drive the 7 minutes to the center and started with the Japanese Bridge.

  

After that I went to the Quang Trieu Assembly Hall next door and then just walked around the old town. There were almost no people at this early hour.


  

  

Walking further on the Tran Phu street I soon arrived at the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall.

  
     
  
  

I crossed the street and walked into the Quang Cong temple.

  
  

By then it was time for breakfast and especially a coffee. The central market was right across the street so I decided to stop there.

  

Thus refreshed I walked around the market. It was all around the Central Market Hall. Some stalls had their fares on the street, some were better equipped. Please note that each flower was separately wrapped.

  
  

The next stop was the Tran Family’s Chapel, not really a place where you could see a lot but it had a large shop in the back. The little I saw though looked old and interesting.

  
  

By then it had started to rain again (there had been a slight drizzle all morning) and I was ready for another coffee break. I had seen most of the things I had wanted to and it was only 10:30am. Definitely time to enjoy the rest of the morning before going to the beach. Here under the large trees I was save from the rain and away from the noise. I spent the rest of the morning reading and writing.

When my cell phone battery was almost dead I decided to head back to the Homestay. But on the way to the bicycle I passed the Sacred Temple.

  
  

Around noon time I took the bicycle again and drove to An Bang beach which was only 3km from my Homestay. I wore my bikini just in case, but while driving there the drizzle started again. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t go swimming in Hoi An. The rice fields on the way to looked lush and green while the beach was more a variation of grey.

  

So the bikini was maybe a tad too optimistic but I wanted to be prepared. We ended up having lunch there, pizza for Willemeijn and prawns for me.

After lunch we went back into town. I had my third fitting and was expecting the worst.

  

Maybe I should have done that from the beginning because all of a sudden the clothes were how I wanted them to be. A couple smaller alterations and I was done. So while waiting for them I drove around town and for some last impressions and snacks during daylight.

 

Back at the tailor everything was ready. While talking to my sales lady I picked up that they also do shipping. And since I wanted to send some things home, we agreed on my coming back with all the stuff and they would do it for me (and everything has arrived meanwhile).

Willemeijn picked me up from the tailor and together we drove into the old town. We settled on a small place next to the river and shared squid sweet and sour and another Hoi An specialty.

  

A last walk around the old town with a view on the Lantern Bridge and then it was time for us to say goodbye. She was flying out to Dalat the next morning while I was taking the train south to Quy Nhon. Yours, Pollybert