A Travellerspoint blog

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Connect the Dots

overcast 27 °C

Either it was an ambitious, greedy creature or I was attacked simultaneously by a hundred.

However, the more pressing question on this overwhelming, muggy morning is whether the hundred spots littering my feet originate from a creature in my bed or a creature on the bus. I'm not sure which possibility is more comforting.

All I know is that after a torture test on one of them, they are are not acting like mosquito bites. And they look ill. And make me look stupid. Like the bite-ridden travellers I laughed at yesterday.

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The torture-tested one may be starting to itch...which is not good either. I guess it's a bit late to find out for sure whether this is a malaria area.

I'm going to explore Hoi An instead.

Posted by JayneHol 20:17 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam mosquitoes bites creatures bed_bugs Comments (0)

Kittens and a Manicure

rain 27 °C

A local informed me after a substantial giggle that I have mosquito bites. 60 to be precise. I informed myself of the latter, compliments of the mosquito.

I had a manicure. My first. More like a "manicure". I was wandering through the market and wanted to escape the sounds of the hidden, crying kittens in the food section. I think they were in tubs. So I had my nails painted pink to the sound of some dripping and an Asia branded fan.

Three are no longer pink, so I now need to find nail polish.

Naturally it's overcast again, pending rain. I've accepted this as the status quo and can subsequently move on to contemplate more important things. Like the fact that I've been told I have to move out of my room tomorrow because of a reservation. I heard a vague apology and noticed a slight look of surprise when I subtly suggested that I had booked the room for three nights. It's unfortunate. I like my room. And my balcony looking onto the street.

I also wore slip slops for the first time. And stood in dog poo.

And I learned that the Dalat wine's hangover is not as ambiguous and watery as the wine itself.

And I purchased local mozzie cream to mix with my tabbard. I'm aiming not to reach a tally of one hundred bites.

Jens wants to go to the market. If he veers towards the food section, I shall get my manicure redone. I shall also wear sneakers.

Posted by JayneHol 00:44 Archived in Vietnam Tagged food market vietnam sound kittens hoi_an dog_poo mosquitos manicure Comments (0)

Your Food Come Now. Or Later.

Hoi An

overcast 23 °C

So after putting some sneakers on, my day got more successful.

In fact, despite a sickening pink on 7 and a half nails and 61 mosquito bites, it ended entirely brilliantly with dinner at Cafe des Amis: a spot with friendly and mildly eccentric owners and that only serves a set menu.

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The food is delicious. It's delivery is entertaining and the owner's son interactively demonstrates how you should eat each dish, out of which bowl you should eat it and with which utensils.

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And, if you are somewhat curious about the next table's chosen ingredients (meat, veg or seafood), he'll intercept their dinner and make you try the mouthful of food that the rightful recipient was just about to start chewing. Very relaxed. And all to a soundtrack of cheerful French music.

A few pics from my day:

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Posted by JayneHol 07:21 Archived in Vietnam Tagged people food restaurant travel vietnam hoi_an cafe_des_amis Comments (0)

Crabs and Christmas

What to do on Christmas eve

sunny 27 °C

For anyone worried that I am not experiencing the joy of Christmas, let me assure you that it is alive and bellowing in Hoi An. In fact, I am sitting at a restaurant across the road from my hotel listening to the owner and friends singing karaoke Christmas carols. Competing with the talented, wailing folk indoors, is the “I wanna weesh you a merry Christmus” from next door. I believe that it the same CD from the bar in Ha Noi and this song is similarly on round 6 and a half. Around the corner is an even louder rendition of Silent Night. Vietnam’s got talent.

And excess Christmas.

In fact, I bought myself a Christmas present. Two paintings from a local gallery.

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They could be considered an unnecessary splurge, but I propose that eating crab and drinking beer on a beachfront on an undeniably pristine day was far more indulgent (despite being stupidly cheap).

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I shall take this opportunity to weesh you all a meeeerrrry christmus, have a night more silent than mine and with any luck, hopefully you’ll hear jingle bells at midnight too.

(And for those fearful of not being visited by Santa, I believe he is vacationing in Vietnam. May I suggest a last-minute note requesting a karaoke set. Just ensure that you warm up your voice slightly more successfully than the lady who has finally finished...uh...just begun belting out another song…it doesn’t matter. I sent Santa an email on her behalf requesting some singing lessons.)

I’m up at 4am tomorrow. Not for Santa’s gifts, but for a taxi and then plane to Nha Trang.

Posted by JayneHol 06:49 Archived in Vietnam Tagged beer beach travel vietnam christmas happiness hoi_an crab cheap_food Comments (0)

Red Rose Petals on the Moon

...or the opposite. It's hard to say, really.

all seasons in one day 26 °C

It’s hard to describe my day, so I’ll start with yesterday- Christmas for some.
I arrived in Nha Trang, was roomless for hours, drank coffee with a headache, ate a mammoth sweaty breakfast, and then eventually got settled in a room for six after the vomiting, hungover person begged not to leave my booked one. Three double beds, one double bed, one and the same. I now just have a choice. And three equally dodgy pillows. Three towels I don’t have to wash. And three complimentary toothbrushes.

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Back to today. To me. My day. Strange day. To say the least. Boat. Bumps. Wooly Bully? Lots of wind. Giant swells.

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Though better than my block. Rock around the clock. To pop. The pop music. Pop ‘til you drop. Don’t stop. Oh, but we did have pop music. Popping. Crackling. Snapping. Stereo to China. I’m certain. Certified watcher. People-watcher. Watcher of the oddness on a Vietnamese tour boat.

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Too tired too. Sleepless. Sleep-deprived. Mosquitos. Pop. Hip Hop. House. Trance. Dance. Bikes. Hooters. “One Dollar”. “Maybe Tomorrow.” Insanity. Insane. Sanity-seeking. Solace. On a boat of Vietnamese tourists. With a guide with karaoke inclinations. Stand-up comedian tendencies. And snorkels that break in high seas and strong, murky currents that my flooding goggles couldn’t see. One dollar, for sure. Or seven…sailing on the seven seas. If only I were so lucky.

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“You go swim again???” (Silence. Dumb. Deaf. Drowned. Disbelieving ) “Aah, new snorkel!” “Go sweem. Go sweem!”
“Uhh...'caam a-earn (muffled)'". "(I don’t really want to die while I tread water in a pending hurricane and my goggles flood and my snorkel drowns me. [Ever heard of flippers?])"

“You go sweem!!!”

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“Uh…okay. Uh…no. THANK you. (Smile. Sweetly.) I loved it. (I couldn’t see a thing, but two swaying, afraid fish and I fear I may die or be swept out to China. I don’t like China seas. They eat anything. They’ll eat me. They’ll eat karaoke if need be)”

Recluse. Run. Hide. Behind the rocks. Too much wind. What reef? What fish? What snorkel, come to think of it?

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Laugh out loud. Lie awkwardly in the half sun. Soak up the clouds. And the sand. Blowing into my Coke that didn’t open.

Number 10, back on the boat. To lunch. To sea-bound bobbing boarding school. Sit in a circle. Eat when told. Politely. Not too much. How do they hold their chopsticks? What’s that? Laugh.

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Move.
Please.
Sing and dance.

“What?”
Something something then we all go, “YO!”
“Oh.” “Ho ho ho.” (Just for good spirit.) Smile. Move sideways. Off the stage. What happened to snacks? The seats? Oh! “YOOOO!”

Sing songs. Sing along. Loudly enough for London. Lisa, did you hear? Locomotion soundalikes. Fish now gone. Forever. For sure. Shore just got wave vibrations. Good God. Good, Good, Good, good vibrations. God, could you hear? I can’t. Anymore. “What’s that?”

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“In your he-ead. In you he-ee-ead. Zombie. Zombie. Zombie-ie-ie-ie-ie-ie-iey.”

Retreat. There’s a roof. An empty loud roof. Breathe. Sit. Sink. Into the noise. Laugh out loud. Is anybody with me? Am I insane? Sane? Sony loudspeakers. Four. Full of noise. Full of the tropical turquoise anti-peace I sought. But see sinking instead. See the shore. See sand. See sanity. See…

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See...

Down to the pop-up floating bar. With pop. More pop. STOP! “Yeeee haaa! Sweem evreebaady!” "What? Where? There? He just drank too much fruit wine after lunch and his twisty turny bomb dive made him throw up at your feet!” Fruit too. Sis. Stand still. Stay put. Don’t move.

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Sigh. Signal happiness. Pretend. Natural stance. Take a stand. Turn and stand. To face Jesus. “WTF? Is this for real?” Laugh out loud. Water to wine. (To vomit). “You’re a day old!” I’m gob-smacked. Snapping. Cracking. POP! Goes the bar.

“On the boat evreebaaady.”

Bopping. Popping. Must buy a beer. Swig. Swallow. S…

“Weee gunnna paaaaaaty!”

I see that. I hear it too. In fact, I see it floating. On top of the want-to-be turquoise water. Oh, there’s wind. Thank gods for wind. Float away. Float home. Fly away. Wound up. Wind up winding down. A bottle of wine. Save me. I’m saved? Whining and dined.

Did that just happen?

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I must be in love.

Tomorrow I’m going to sleep late. Very late.

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Posted by JayneHol 05:49 Archived in Vietnam Tagged boat vietnam music funny vietnamese karaoke snorkel wind weird crazy insane lisa insanity goggles pop noise sing nha_trang boat-trip swell reality. sane laugh Comments (0)

To Can Tho

sunny 33 °C

I have little I want to say about Nha Trang. I’m not sure if it was the mosquitos, the all-night pop music, the wind, or its general lack of character, but it never grew on me. I got lonely and bored and found the excessive tourism push and development off-putting. And they’re still advertising the Miss Universe pageant they hosted in 2008…

Yesterday, as a desperate attempt to pick myself up, I opted to pay for a motorcycle driver for a few hours. At first I thought this may redeem my experience of Nha Trang, especially after learning 1 to 10 in Vietnamese and a brilliant ride through the country to a mountain river. But this was before Long decided to change our agreement.

Long and I before the fall-out:

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Some pics:

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Today I made my way by air and local minibus to Can Tho down in the Mekong Delta.

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Despite a slight case of whiplash and feeling slightly conspicuous for the duration of the 4-hour minbus ride , the trip was uncomplicated. I like Can Tho. It feels particularly authentic, doesn’t always speak English and served me a brilliant dinner. Admittedly, I chose the only meal on the menu that had a vague English translation, and admittedly my heart sank when raw beef was delivered to my table without any hint of “Pan” or “Fried”, but subsequently and to my delight, my slices of beef and onion were cooked in front of me, which I then got to roll, with some noodles and some greenery, into my own spring rolls. I’m far more content and suspect a boat trip tomorrow along rivers and canals of the delta will add to this.

I have little else to say. I’m suffering from self-imposed nobody-to-talk-to/share-with-blues and a gigantic (biggest of my life), hopefully-mosquito bite on my bum.

Saigon:
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Half my dinner (the other half got ignored because of a near non-existent internet connection):

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Market in Can tho:

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Hope for conversation has just walked in the hotel door. Some travellers going on the same boat trip with me. Holding thumbs for my own sanity.

Posted by JayneHol 05:36 Archived in Vietnam Tagged food travel bus backpack vietnam lonely dinner driver bites authentic nha_trang mosquitos can_tho characterless Comments (0)

Meet My Vietnam

Mekong Delta

semi-overcast 34 °C

In fairness to a tranquil 7 hour meander along the canals and rivers of the Mekong Delta, I have little to joke about. Today was poetic.

I’m also tired of my own voice in my head, so will offer only one comment. This is why I came to Vietnam.

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Posted by JayneHol 03:30 Archived in Vietnam Tagged boat market vietnam floating_market mekong_delta can_tho south_vietnam Comments (0)

The Birthday

Can Tho Celebrations

semi-overcast 34 °C

I had the privilege of intercepting a 10 year old’s birthday party last night. Well, I didn’t have a choice. I could hear it from my closed hotel room a block away (and up on the sixth floor), and it required an entire street.

Little Mister Nhat Dang practically had billboards advertising his ten-year achievement. Banners were strung, balloons were flying, a fully equipped stage was ready and spot-lit, the sound was blaring to the South China Sea, Nhat Dang was decked out in a striking black suit with red bowtie, and all the little girls were in their most flamboyant party dresses . (Thank heavens I wasn’t the only one dressed slightly dodgily for kiddie birthday parties, but that’s irrelevant.)

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I learned something far more important. Karaoke is part of the regular rite of passage of every child here. For hours, men and women, then little girls and little boys put on their best performances for the birthday party.

It was classic!

Hopefully I’ll figure out how to upload videos.

Posted by JayneHol 07:29 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam birthday birthday_party can_tho mekog_delta lavish Comments (0)

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