Vietnamese pizza and island hopping
Trip Start Jan 06, 2005
11Trip End Jan 26, 2005
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
I think this place was the best value accommodation on our trip. We paid 200,000 dong (around $18 Australian) for a really nice hotel room, which was more like an apartment it was so big. We had a big bathroom with a bath and shower, so I was happy. Plus we had satellite TV so Ian was content as well. It was a couple of streets away from the beach, and we were high enough that I was only bothered by the noise when clubs started thumping on the weekend
We were absolutely stuffed by the time we checked in, but really hungry. So we went down to the street and just settled for a pizza place across the road. When we first arrived in Vietnam I looked down on the tourist cafés that dished out Western fare, asking what kind of uncultured person would prefer french fries over wantons and fresh spring rolls. However after little more than a week I'm craving something - anything - apart from Vietnamese. So we sat down in this 'Italian' restaurant with trepidation, resigned by weariness to a crappy meal.
The food was actually good and the service was fantastic. It was so good in fact it put a positive spin on our day, that was otherwise an absolutely, disgustingly dreadful bus trip, so I really appreciated it. After that experience we decided to succumb a few more times. I felt a little guilty eating non-Vietnamese food in Vietnam, but the people were just so friendly, and they had croissants for breakfast, and as they were a few streets back from the beach they didn't get lots of business
The waitress there who we called smiley was working at whatever hour we went in, be it The waitress there who we called smiley was working at whatever hour we went in, be it breakfast or late dinner. There are some really cute people who obviously haven't quite got used to foreigners yet. Whenever we approached her face would light up and she'd start giggling. Once I ordered a pineapple juice and a watermelon juice. She looks bemused, hesitantly asking... "two?" When I said yes, she burst into incredulous laughter. We extravagant foreigners! Another time Ian ordered a beer and a coffee and a juice and she couldn't contain herself. The food was generally quite good, and even when it was average just laughing along with the waitress, although we didn't know what we were quite laughing at, put us in such good spirits I'm sure the food tasted better.
One day Ian decided it would be entertaining to get a shave from one of the street barbers. In Vietnam much business is conducted on the street. I'd had a facial and a manicure in full view of the public, now it was Ian's turn
Ian was looking decidedly pale and a little sweaty. The barber had done a good job on his mouth and neck, although I noticed a little nick around a mole that horrified me. Then the barber started working his way up... and up... I looked on dumbfounded as the barber shaved Ian's forehead, and between his eyebrows, and the other sides of his eyes. Now Ian may be pretty hairy compared to the Vietnamese but he doesn't have hair on his forehead. It must be some kind of exfoliation thing, I'd noticed the Vietnamese guy before getting the same treatment. How bizarre. Eventually the barber gave the nod and Ian sat up, looking absolutely awful. Hairless, but ill
We decided, based on several recommendations, to go on Mama Hahn's Green Hat Boat Tour. The day tours of the outlying islands from Nha Trang are infamous, a lot to do with Mama Hahn herself who had been jailed for supplying her passengers with marijuana. These days the tours aren't so 'all included,' with just lunch and some mulberry wine provided. We even had to pay for the beer, which didn't impress Ian much. We paid for our tickets, which works out about ten dollars Australian each, the day before and then a minibus came to our hotel the following day, which took us down to the port where we got on one of dozens of decrepit passenger boats. Coincidentally there were about four other Australians, journalists by trade, on the boat and we got chatting. The first island featured a multi-storey aquarium, which on the outside resembled the now demolished Magic Mountain at Glenelg, back home. Inside though it was actually quite good. Ian got communication with some purported monks, although I've never seen monks in beanies before, and never met any so willing to be photographed.
The next island we went to was for the purpose of snorkelling, and we didn't actually get on the island, just around it
They magically converted the seats on the deck into a table, and chatted with my fellow journalists we tucked in to some interesting seafood dishes, Ian grumbling about having to pay for more beer despite the 'all included' promotions. We dropped anchor somewhere else and the crew threw a floating bar into the water, where mulberry wine was drunk. I was so buggered from snorkelling and being in the sun I crashed out on the top of the boat in the sunshine, deciding more alcohol in this state wouldn't be a good idea
At some stage in Nha Trang the food disagreed with me and one night I resigned myself to stay in our hotel room watching satellite TV, while Ian went out with the Swedish boys we encountered on the bus there. He hung around and watched some dodgy movie with me, sympathising, then set out. By that stage I just wanted to curl up and be unconscious, so he took the key so he wouldn't have to wake me up on his return. I woke up some time after 3am in stifling heat. Of course taking the room key deactivated the power and therefore the air conditioning, and by now the heat from outside had permeated through the closed windows. When my eyes adapted to the dark I managed to make out the time and started to worry about Ian. He'd gone off with some relative strangers several hours ago in a foreign town, in which Lonely Planet recommends you shouldn't walk alone at night.
I fretted for half an hour in the heat, still feeling awful myself and not really sure what to do, imagining where to go the next day if he hadn't shown up. The local police? Ring the consulate? Unlike earlier when I'd forced myself to sleep amidst the 'thud thud' sound of dance music and car horns, it was now eerily quiet. Finally Ian stumbled in attempting to be quiet, the whirr of the air conditioner starting up again as he put the key back in it's slot. He came to bed and I hugged him and told him my fears and in a drunken state of concern he assured me he was fine, the alcohol was so cheap he and the Swedish guys had drunk themselves into a stupor. The next day he had a hangover to match my upset tummy, and we moped around pathetically, deciding we'd been in Nha Trang long enough.