Inflatable Doom

Day 37. Tues 6/14

Nha Trang

Sailing Club, Beach, Kids Play Zone, Mojzo Inn



After a good night’s sleep, I woke up still thinking about how good my chicken sandwich from the Sailing Club was last night. Kaija and Max had booked a diving trip this morning so they were gone, but the rest of us four wanted to spend a day at the beach so we thought the Sailing Club lunch was a good place to start. I tried buffalo (loved it) and Josh ordered two entrees (what else is new).

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We were still at the Sailing Club when Kaija and Max returned so we got to hear about how awesome their dives were. The rest of us had decided not to go because the dive master mentioned a low visibility and potential bad weather – which had taken away from our diving in Koh Tao earlier. So of course the weather was gorgeous and they had a great time. I’m happy for them, but dang it! They got to see an inflated blow fish!

Hillary’s little caravan left for Ho Chi Minh City just after noon but the rest of us had declined the ride so that we could spend more time on the beach and avoid paying for a hostel by taking a night train. However, we realized that an early morning 1 hour flight was only $17 (the night train was $35+) and we ended up booking beds at Mojzo Inn just a five minute walk away. They had a free beer hour at 5pm so we figured we would just hang out at the beach until then to check in.

We soaked up the sun for a while and then got antsy. I had a noticed an area down the beach with inflatable structures and a trampoline. Josh, Mike, and I went to check it out and decided it was worth the $3 for something to do.

There were children playing on the trampoline so we made our way to the bigger structures in the deeper water. Mike and Josh pretty quickly scaled two of the floaties while I struggled to find a path up mine that didn’t have crucial hand/foot pieces torn or completely missing. Josh jumped off his first (pretty tall) inflatable into extremely shallow water and that should have been our first warning that nothing good would come from this adults playing on children’s toys. But we didn’t take the hint (20/20 hindsight) and continued to scale the structures and then slide down them – not fun – until the coveted trampoline opened up.

The tramp was connected by 2 ropes to an inflated rectangle landing strip, and we assumed that one person would sit on the end of the strip and the other would jump from the tramp onto the end of the strip, sending the other one flying (i.e. Jackass 3?). The hard part was getting to the strip. Josh held the rope to bring the strip closer (there was a small space between the two floaties) and Mike jumped from the trampoline and slid down the side of the strip into the water. The forward force sliced Josh’s fingernail as the rope slid through his grip 😫 I think that counted as strike 2. I decided to jump on to the landing strip much slower by sliding gently from the trampoline. A little too gently actually – I didn’t get on to the strip completely and then started sliding backward, about to fall through the space between the tramp and the strip. I panicked and tried to fall sideways but my feet had already gone in between while my top half went off the side. So I ended up draped over the rope and got a gnarly rope burn while trying to wiggle my way out. It all happened so fast and when I finally fell in the water the salt stung my fresh burn. We finally took the hint and evacuated with a burnt hip, ripped fingernail and torn dignity, heading back down the beach past all the parents and children who continued to play on the inflatables. Child endangerment much? I now understand my mother’s concern and refusal to let me or Kellen play on similar playgrounds when we were younger. I guess I had to learn my lesson the hard way at age 23. I wonder when Kellen will learn his…

The Mojzo Hostel turned out to be pretty awesome. We got our own room because they weren’t fully booked, the air con worked, the ladies at the front were extremely helpful with our travel arrangements for early in the morning and other recommendations, and we made it in time for free beer.

I took some time to run a few errands before dinner (read: buy shampoo and get pedicure) and then we took a cab to a street market the front desk ladies recommended. We got dropped off in an area that was completely dark and mostly deserted, with people cleaning up and creating big piles of stinky trash. We decided to take a detour to KFC. Which was out of chicken (???) so then we detoured to Baskin Robbins. Which had a buy one get one free. We win.

Food log:

  • Buffalo steak with a carrot puree, grilled shallots, beets, and potatoes. V yummy
  • Baskin Robbins – chocolate love potion and Belgian waffle – because ice cream for dinner is allowed on vacation, right?
  • Chicken strips and French fries for fourth (technically third) meal #cultured

 

DEC

DayΒ 34. Sat 6/11

Hoi An

Hillary arrives! White roses, Marble Mountain, Da Nang dinner, DEC

We are once again a group of 6! Hillary joined us this morning from her Euro trip, and with her she brought a little entourage, including a translatorand, photographer and driver. We are happy to have Hillary here even without these helpful people, but even happier because that means no more taking sketchy cabs! Well, at least until after Vietnam. Also, in other good news, Hillary didn’t mention anything about my black eye, so I think it’s finally healed. And the cough is still lingering, but definitely getting better.

We spent some time at the pool, which overlooks the Montgomerie Links golf course (s/o to airbnbs), before heading back in to Hoi An for our second clothes fitting at Tony’s. It seems like we always take a lot longer there than we plan, but there are six of us and only three – sometimes two – of them. The fitting went super well today, and they made a lot of changes that made me feel way better about how things were going to turn out. And I added a pair of sandals to my order.

After we finished we were pretty hungry, and after our failed attempt at last night’s dinner to try some of Hoi An’s specialty dishes we searched for a little place the women at Tony’s recommended to us, called Bo Bo’s Cafe. A little bit of a walk but sooo worth it. We were the only ones there so when we walked in she turned on the fans and pushed some together for us. Shop owners here end to do that – when there first customers arrive they turn on the AC, fans, lights, whatever. Otherwise they’re left off, I assume for cost savings. Unfortunately they also do this at some hostels and hostels – so when you arrive it takes a little while to cool down, which isn’t great if you arrive super late at night or have to climb a couple of flights of stairs first.

Β I ordered white rose – a shrimp dumpling made with a translucent white dough and bunched up to look like a flower – and also tried some of the pork and veggie wontons – they were essentially wonton chips with the toppings on top, kind of like nachos. Both were delicious! I’m really glad we gave it another try. Β When we went to pay I asked if we could use a credit card and the waitress (probably also the owner and cook) apologized profusely and said if we didn’t have enough cash we could come back and pay tomorrow if we wanted. We had plenty of cash so we paid then, but it was cool to say that we ate at truly a family-owned place with authentic Vietnamese food. And loved it ❀

Hillary, Mike, Josh and I decided to go check out Marble Mountain after we got back and ended up getting there just in time before the ticket office closed. We went up in an elevator and had a cool view with a sunset as we wandered around the caves and pagodas. And for the second time, a group of Vietnamese tourists asked Mike to take a picture with them. The first time this happened was in Paradise Cave, where they huddled around both Josh and Mike. They were speaking a different language but we could make out the words “basketball” and “NBA” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

We wrapped up our trip pretty quickly once we Β heard thunder and saw some storm clouds rolling in. Trang and Po, Hillary’s hosts, took us to a scrappy looking restaurant along the beach and we were pretty uncertain about things once we arrived and saw that half the floor was full of buckets of love seafood. We saw lobster, crab, fish, prawns, and other things I didn’t recognize. Instead of ordering individual dishes we had Trang pick out a few things for all of us to try.

We started our meal out with hard-boiled quail eggs (just like chicken eggs, but smaller) and then were brought a plate of fried squid, which I liked way more than I thought I would! Fun fact: you can eat the entire squid except this long strand (that looks like a string of plastic) that’s in the center of the body.

Next we were served clams, which I tried in Australia and liked, but didn’t enjoy so much here because there wasn’t much flavor. We also got king prawns – usually it freaks me out when they still have the eyes and legs but I dug right in after such a good experience with the squid. We finished the meal with snail, which Po had to teach us how to eat with a toothpick, and once again I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it!

After dinner we went to check out DEC, Da Nang Electric Carnival, that was just up the street on the beach. Once we calculated that tickets were $16 we thought we’d give it a chance. And once we found out beers were about $1.15 each we decided we could stick around a little while before heading home. About 11 o’clock Head Hunterz came on so we ended up staying until around midnight. When we got home Max couldn’t believe we spent our money and time on the festival. “Nothing like going to Vietnam to see a European DJ play.” I think he was just jealous.

Food Log:

  • Eggs from the resort’s restaurant. Average.
  • White rose and a banana shake
  • Fresh seafood dinner of hard-boiled quail eggs, fried squid, king prawns, clams, and snail. Things I never thought I would like – but so good!

(Trash) Fire!

Days 31 & 32. Wed 6/08 & Thurs 6/09

Hoi An

Clothes fitting, beach time, movie night

In every major city we have visited in Vietnam there are constantly people burning trash outside their shops just in the middle of the sidewalk. Hoi was the first city where there were little metal tins that the fire was contained inside (safe??) but the scent of the fires were also noticeably worse. Cities here also lack trash bins – maybe this is their alternative? Maybe we’re supposed to throw trash in the burning piles? Who knows.

Hoi An and Da Nang two cities about half hour apart and along a highway that runs along the beach. We were excited to see Hoi An but also wanted some beach time so we opted for a little villa in between the cities and (surprise surprise) rented motorbikes to travel into town for the next three days. While we were in town we looked around a few shops (most were tailors where you can have custom clothes and shoes made for a reasonable price) and decided to come back the next day after doing some research on which tailors were the best.

Since our villa had a full kitchen we thought it would be kind of fun to get some groceries and cook dinner and lunch ourselves. However, we had a hard time finding groceries since most places were tiny little family-owned marts without clear signage. A local that spoke some English got our attention and led us to the mart that she apparently shops at – we racked up about a bill of over million dong (~$50USD) and she happily swiped her rewards card as we were paying. Then she tried to convince us to come buy marble souvenirs at her shop. No thanks πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹

After buying groceries we were so hungry that we decided to try out the resort’s restaurant (go figure) and it did not disappoint. It was o good that Mike Josh and I went back the next night and convinced Kaija and Max to join as well πŸ€‘

The next day we headed into town – this time we only rented 3 bikes and Kaija and I rode on the backs – to Tony the Tailor, the top rated shop on Trip Advisor for clothing. We spent a good three and a half hours there flipping through magazines, picking out fabrics, and being measured. I wish I would have gone in with a specific idea in mind, because it is extremely hard to choose when you have literally every option you can imagine. Somehow, after much thought and deliberation, I decided on a suit, pair of pants and a jumpsuit.

On our way out of town back to the Ocean Villa we stopped for waters and found that the convenience store sold Bundy, one of our favorite drinks from Australia! We stocked up πŸ˜„

The fittings took way longer than we anticipated so we went home and were really excited to eat again. Then we spent a little time relaxing by the beach and pool before ordering dinner to our villa and settling in to watch a movie. I also booked myself a foot scrub at the resort spa and took a little me time. It’s nice to have an emptier to do list for the next few days so we can enjoy the good weather – finally! Also, I highly recommend the movie Predestination.

We only had one hiccup tonight and that was just before we started the movie. As we were picking up from dinner Kaija noticed a huge spider on the wall. Like, biggest I’ve ever seen in my life. We all freaked out and then Josh killed it but it left us all wondering how many other creatures were living in our apartment… and pretty glad we were transferring to a different airbnb the next day.

Food Log:

  • Chicken pho in Hoi An alongside a mint chocolate milkshake. Turns out ordering a mint milkshake means they use crushed mint leaves in the blender
  • Lasagna from the villa resort restaurant. Hit the spot πŸ‘Œ
  • Homemade breakfast aka toast with jam
  • Eggs for lunch. Also added some hot sauce. They were bad so I also had some rosemary chips (my fave from Koh Phi Phi!) and apple cider bundy
  • Salmon salad and some sketchy Vietnamese chicken wings. At least the salmon was delish

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