Published: April 14th 2012April 14th 2012
Well I survived Room 101 but someone else did get flooded in the night (via their faulty air con) so maybe I projected it onto them - do it to Nat, do it Nat! (George Orwell's 1984 reference if you didnt' know.)
Today was to be a blissful one of relaxation, relaxation and maybe a bit more relaxation thrown in for good measure. We set off from the busy port at Nha Thrang in a wooden boat with our guide for the day An and a massage/nail lady too. We were barely out of the port before our girls were sitting having their nails done.
We were heading to the island of Mieu where the population are mostly children (they love big families there - up to 6 or 7 in a family is common). The adults work mostly in the fishing industry and as we pulled up there were countless boats bobbing about in the harbour. An pointed out the lights on the boats, explaining that they were used to lure the squid into the waiting nets, sneaky! We saw some women putting tiny squid out on wire frames in the sun to dry when we went on
shore. Behind all the boats was tethered one or more little coracle boats that were used for getting to shore. They were either made of plastic or the more traditional woven variety, made water tight by smearing cow dung in the cracks and then painting with varnish.
We took a wander through the little alleyways between some of the houses on the island. As it was Saturday the children weren't at school and many were in the internet cafes that are on the island, playing computer games. Others were playing in the street or in front of their houses and smiled and waved as we passed by. They loved having their photos taken and seeing the results on our cameras.
An explained that the water is piped to the island from the mainland and stored in huge tanks (they used to have just ground wells which are still used, but not for drinking water). They also have big clay containers that collect rain water from the roofs. The electricity on the island now comes via underground wires from the mainland. They used to be overhead wires, but the bigger boats had problems with these hence them going underground.
Getting back to the fishing, An told us that when the guys come back from their long fishing trips (to catch marlin and blue fin tuna) they go straight to the barber to have their hair cut, their beard shaved and their ear hair shaved with a tiny blade on the end of a stick. The guy cutting their ear hair has a head torch to see with to make sure he doesn't make any nicks! When all this grooming is done the guy will finally go home to see his wife and children!
In their free time the men's favourite past-time is gambling - and this they do by cock fighting! An said that unlike in other places, the islanders' cocks are not made to fight to the death but just until they are exhausted - so that's ok then! They tend their cocks with loving care, feeding them up and treating thier wounds. An came out with a great phrase, 'The island men treat their cocks better than their women!' The same the world over then ;)
With so many children on the island there are quite a few schools and we passed a few
of them. One primary school An pointed out had wooden shutters that the teacher had installed to stop the kids from seeing the tourists and running out to say hi and getting distracted from their studies. The teachers come from the mainland by boat every day to teach the two school shifts.
The little coracles we had seen in the harbour were to be our transport back to our boat, so in threes we gingerly stepped aboard and sat perched on the edge while the coracle 'paddler' (is there a technical term for such a person I wonder?) paddled us to the boat. If it had been left to us we would have been spinning around in circles for hours! As we got out we saw some fish farms fattening up squid, moray eels and a type of shark.
Once on board it was declared 'beer o'clock' as we set off for a quiet spot near some coral reef to do a spot of swimming and snorkling from the boat. Alcohol and swimming - yes I know! The water was lovely and very buoyant - lots of salt! After our swim, a huge buffet style lunch appeared, with
a special veggie plate for me (they are so good about catering for awkward Lottie). Nom nom nom :)
We arrived at our destination that (or should that be who?) Phat called 'rocky bitch!' which could have been quite an interesting sight, but was in reality a beautifully, peaceful pebbly beach with sun loungers and shades. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, swimming, reading, drinking beers/seven up/seven down (coke) or having massages and manicures. Me and few others decided to have a go at parasailing. It was '1, 2, 3 - run, run, run' and whoooooosh and a 'yaaaaaayyyyyy!' from me and I was up in the air flying like a bird high in the sky with wonderful views all around. I could see over the top of the bay we were in, all the little islands and boats below, the cable car going across to one of the islands (apparently it's in the guiness book of records as the longest ocean crossing cable car at 3,320m long taking 10 minutes to ride across) and the backdrop of mountains all around. It was wonderful. A couple of times they dipped me into the water before speeding off
again, whoooshing me up in the air 'yeeeeee harrrrrr!'.
What a wonderfully relaxed day out at Nha Trang. Don't mind if I do :)
There are more photos below