Published: February 9th 2009December 10th 2008
*Warning, rather long blog but there was no avoiding it*
Opps ok sorry guys I haven't fallen off the face of the earth but its clear to say I've joined what's known as the Mui Ne Madness.
When i arrived in this tiny coastal town mid way through Vietnam I definitely didn't think my plans to stay 4 days would turn into 4 weeks. But when Niamh, Maude, Turlough and I hopped off the bus from a rather dull and drizzily north Vietnam and stumbled across these cute huts precisely 30 Hannah size steps from the sea shore where I can hear the raw of the rough sea, where the sun shines continuously and with Christmas and New year creeping up we figured it'd be nice to be somewhere familiar with other long term travellers rather than compete with the 2 week holiday makers for the few remaining guest houses that were 3x the price over the festive period.
The town consists of literally one long road. Its yet to be discovered by the hordes of travellers but resorts are beginning to pop up by the minute. It seems as though its going to be targeted for the high
Maude out of it on the drive down. Oppps was that one valium too many.
class travellers thats in a position to stay in luxury accommodation and take advantage of the natural beauty along with the many spa's, massage parlours and beauty shops plus sports centres.
The younger crowd are mainly western guys that have come to seek the thrills of the waves. They rent out bungalows for 6 months and earn their party money by becoming kite surfing instructors. Not a bad way to live me thinks.
I hate to admit it but i've done absolutely nothing since i arrived. I've rolled out of bed late, grabbed my daily platter of fresh fruit and yoghurt and sprawled across the sandy beach.
Once the sun had set and the night was young we'd head over to Lam Tong. This local restaurant had such character. Its by far the life and soul of the town. Its rusty old tables and plastic chairs were a novelty and the cheeky waiters were a great laugh. We'd spend night after night here tucking into fresh grilled snapper with chilli and mashed potato. Ohhh the comforts of mash potato. You guys back home have no idea how excited we got when we found out it was on the
menu. Ahhh the little pleasures in life.
Unlike the rest of town, it was teeming 24/7. The place looked to be chaotic and i guess it was. Orders would usually come out wrong and in some obscure order (no such thing as starters and mains) but somehow it didn't matter. Everyone tucked in. We'd pull tables together as group after group joined one another and from there our little community was born and boy did it serve us well.
It was then back to the madness of Hong Di (our huts) for pre drinks. The place was run by a crazy women called Sao (aka Mama Vietnam). She was hilarious. She liked to play dumb a lot of the time. She pretended her English was minimal yet we know she knew more than she let on. It gave her great pleasure to play jokes on us and had even trained her dog Coco (her pride and joy) to chase the daily runners along the beach as we laughed in hysterics at their attempts to avoid the stupid mutt. Serves them right for being all healthy and exercising on holiday!
Anyway, she was a gem. We felt right
at home. For the first time in a long time we were able to unpack our bags and actually have our belongings on a shelf. The place felt just like home even to the point that we actually pimped out our hut for Xmas. We had people come and view the place as word spread round town. We'd help ourselves to drinks out of the fridge, bung our dirty clothes in the washing machine and grab clean sheets and towels when necessary. I have no idea who they kept track of your spending but they did!
Once tanked up on the local brew it was time to head to one of the two bars/clubs in town. It was either Pogo's or Wax. Both as bad as each other but what can ya do.
Each night consisted of a few dance off's to the DJ's dodgy music, some drunk setting themselves alight on the poi's and lots of mingling amongst the crowds. The night would end crashed out on beanbags spread across the sand and although it was the same thing night after night we still always came back for more!
So after settling in, I decided to
ring home and give the parents the low down and to let them know that i'd found a lovely place to stay and that I was happy and in good spirit with a large group of friends and we were all going to make the festive period special for one another.
I hung up the phone happy that they knew I wasn't going to be spending my first Xmas away from home somewhere lonely or with people i didn't really know.
It wasn't until 3 days later that I bothered to check my emails and when i did I was surprised to find 3 from my dad.
Email 1: Sweetie, I know this is slightly insane but your mother and I where thinking of taking the ball by its horns and booking tickets for us and the boys to join you in Vietnam of Xmas. What do you think? We don't want to cramp your style and all.
Email 2: Ok, we've had no reply from you and it was a now or never decision so we've booked the tickets. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. We'll see you in 5 days.
Email 3: Just in
case you don't believe us here are the airline confirmation tickets.
OMG, I screamed the internet cafe down once it finally sunk in. My family are coming out to party in 5 days.
Now i know to many this would be your worst nightmare. You'd think the reason we'd booked these round the world tickets was to get away from the old folks, but not me. My family are my friends and if i was going to give them the excuse/opportunity to get out of dreary England and head to Asia (somewhere I know they'd never venture to otherwise) I was the happiest girl in Vietnam.
Of course the guys thought it was hilarious but were already joking that they'll be adopting them as their surrogate parents at a time when family was important.
Me and the girls waited nervously on the roadside as the bus finally pulled up nearly 2 hours late. The girls seemed more excited than me but deep down my stomach was full of butterflies.
In my head I'd mentally prepared myself before going away that I wouldn't be seeing them for a year and as im so close to them all
it was kinda a big thing for me.
Next thing I know its all hugs and laughter.
Ahhh there they were. Straight in front of me....in VIETNAM baby.
"Damn, you guys are soooo white...you can tell you've just come off the plane from England. Lets show you to your apartments and get you on that beach."
"Girrrrrl, when did my daughter become a Rastafarian. Look at that tan and those crazy ass breads."
So Xmas week was much like any other in Mui Ne.
Our daily routine took place but now we had the Graff's and Grabowska's in town.
I had them booked into the slightly nicer apartments next door but frankly our place had the buzz so each day we all hang round ours as one fat community.
Everyone couldn't get over how well we all got on as a family. They loved the way we were so relaxed with each other.
Jezzz, no joke i think everyone enjoyed my parents and brothers company more than mine.
Mum and dad joined us for dinner at Lam Tong's every evening. I kept offering to take them to the slight higher class restaurants as i was
aware they were on a short break and may like to indulge but they couldn't get enough of the little run down place.
Saul and Joe signed up to the kite surfing and immediately joined in with the banter.
I took them out in the evenings and somehow Saul even got hold of the mic one night and to everyone's amazement began to Mc over the drum and bass. Ahhh the crowd went wild LOL.
The week was magical. I couldn't have asked for anything more. It was so nice to finally give something back to my family. For once it was me that was able to introduce the boys to a group of friends and boy did they take a shining to the girls. And too right, they were lovely. Mum and dad seemed so relaxed and you could tell they were running off the energy of us youngsters.
It was amazing to take a daily walk along the beach in Vietnam of all places with me Mar and Par. Awww they were so damn sweet. I couldn't help but chuckle as they attempted to tackle the waves and take a dip in the sea. Im telling you
Here comes our grilled fish for the evening.
that water swallowed you up whole.
What a story to tell and what memories I hold.
The day they had to leave wasn't sad as I had expected. How could it be. I'd had an amazing week and it was so spontaneous. I knew the others had been slightly choked over xmas that they weren't with their family so I was grateful for the time i had and i didn't want to think much beyond that. Hey, what an experience. I guess i'll see ya back home unless you wanna try and give me another heart attack along my travels with another surprise ;)
With Xmas and NY over with I was actually itching to get back on the road and onto new adventures.
We all geared ourselves up to leave and said our goodbyes although it was clear we'd all be meeting up in the near future. Likely to be Oz.
Maude and myself did the last stretch of Vietnam and made our way to Saigon for a few days.
It was strangely nice to be back in the city where everything seemed to run at 5x the speed to the rest of the world.
Traditional pre drinks by the beach before we hit the bars
checked out town, booked ourselves on a rather disappointing trip to the tunnels and bumped into a few friendly faces I'd met earlier in my trip.
Wow, if you made it this far through my blog i'm impressed...ill let you enjoy the photos now. They say they paint a thousand words themselves!
Guys, thanks for all the lovely messages. I've been rubbish with the blog but im back on top of it all so stay tuned xxx
There are more photos below