It is time to descend the highlands and return to the coast. But first the inevitable transportation adventure.
From Da Lat I take a bus to Nha Trang, an ocean side town about 11 hours north of Saigon. The road is windy, swithcbacks most the way. My seat companion rolls and stuffs orange peels up her nose which I admit I find odd. I also take offense because it's one thing to know you smell but entirely another to have someone else point it out in such an odd manner. But by hour two I realized that my companion's world does not revolve around me and my attempts at hygiene because I understood as another woman threw up for the third time that citrus must counteract car sickness in some way. Note to self: must learn "pass the orange" in Vietnamese.
Nha Trang is a party town, famous for its all night liquor bashes. I was a bit tired of travelers getting drunk together, competing to see who was traveling the longest or who had been to the most places or who got the best deals or whodidthis or whodidthat....too much, so I planned to bypass the destination. Funny
thing about plans, they never pan out. Ended up spending only one night here, which consisted of a shower door breaking over my head, glass slivers and cuts down my legs, and my first breakdown of my Vietnam trip and me blubbering like a baby on my balcony. Let's face it, it was bound to happen!
Next day I hopped a ride to Quy Nhon, another beach town further to the north. Local buses are not like the big open tour buses; in fact, they aren't buses at all but minivans made to seat 12 but packed with 20 or more passengers. Even the driver shared his seat. And AC consists of the sliding door being held open as we drive and my butt cheeks clenched for dear life as we swerve around a bend and I half fly through the gaping door. Quite different than a TGV in France. No lunch stops for locals either and one of my seat companions (I had 4) shared her lunch with me: rice packed into a fried doughnut. I turned a blind eye to the suspicious meaty taste. Didn't want to be rude.
We get to Quy Nhon before I
realize I'm supposed to get out and since they don't like to actually stop the bus, it's a game of me hopping off and chasing after the van to get my big bag. And what do you think happens next? ..."You want motorbike?" AHHHHH!!!
Of Quy Nhon, I blessedly have very little to report. Very few tourists choose this as a destination because it isn't easy to get to (as I hope I've explained adequately above). I am indeed a lone Westerner in a sea of Vietnamese faces. Menus lack the English translation and I have to cross my fingers and pray to one of the many gods of this country that what I'm pointing at is indeed something I will stomach. Cafes spread out beneath the trees and cluster around large flat screens, each establishment playing a different movie (all in Vietnamese). Plastic chairs line the promenaded and I sip a coconut while I stare out at the city lights reflected in the night water. I spend my first day getting sunburned, pretending I'm French so a local won't keep trying to practice English with me. They told me being bilingual would come in handy ;)
the sunburn I lay low, relishing in a private room with air conditioning. It's the small pleasures!
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