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Published: March 16th 2014
Karen, Jun and Karlie
Jun works at a local high=end resort. He speaks excellent English and he helped us understand the strange happenings at the beach fish market.
We were on the train heading to Quy Nhon. The train left Nha Trang at 3:30 AM. We managed a few hours of sleep before heading to the train station. Outside the front doors a group of taxi drivers watched a European soccer game on a TV which was perched atop a food cart. The station personnel were asleep on little cots behind the ticket counter. The fare to Quy Nhon was $7.50 each for the 5-hour ride.
Once aboard, Karen and Karlie caught some sleep while I stared at my reflection in the train's window. It was pitch black outside as the dimly lit train chugged northward, leaning hard into the South China Sea. I turned on my MP3 and lay back. The tip of my nose grazing against cool window glass with the swaying of the train.
It was the last night before the new moon. A silver crescent as thin and fragile as an over-honed sickle hung low in the eastern sky. A lustrous pewter light swept the horizon. The fading Minotaur moon hurried Venus off-stage. Through the window I watched a Kodak moment emerge from darkness. Large fishing boats riding anchor in snug, circular coves.
On The Promenade
Best time to be out here is just as the sunsets. This is the time when the working-class Vietnamese come out to the beach to hang out together.
Cone-hatted fishermen paddling round, basket boats out to harvest their night's box-net take. The train towed the curve of the coast into the new day while Mick Jagger whispered to me from 1969 and told me that while I can't always get what I want..... .
Quy Nhon sits on Vietnam's narrow central coast. During the war the area was a 'Free Fire' zone which meant that if you were out and about and you looked suspicious then you were a target. Quang Ngai Province just north of Quy Nhon produced 45,000, suspicious looking civilian casualties a year. The city was a major US military port. Material unloaded here supplied the troops in the Central Highlands. A US airbase bisected Quy Nhon's peninsula. As such it was a major target for the Viet Cong and the army of North Vietnam. A hotel used by the US Army for transient housing was leveled by a VC planted bomb on February 10th, 1965 killing 10 soldiers. The hillsides around Quy Nhon were regularly napalmed and bombed to preclude the enemy from occupying the heights.
Today Quy Nhon is a beautiful town graced by wide boulevards and some of the friendliest
It looked like this every morning. Calm water.
people I have ever met. They see few westerners here and when they do they act as if they're encountering Branjelina on a private getaway. Young girls twitter and brave young men jump to their feet to shout out English hello's and how are you's. Sit in an empty restaurant and watch it quickly fill with nervous looking natives. Go shopping and folks will crowd around you to see what sort of thing you're interested in buying. Karen and Karlie's purchase of a piece of clothing will lead to a dozen more being snatched from the shelves. Stop on the beach to watch a casual volleyball game and the players will suddenly be diving for gets that they wouldn't ordinarily consider going for. Applaud a good dig and the recipient will glow with pride. It's all good.
Off the tourist track, very few backpackers make it this far and those that do stay only a short time. This is unfortunate but understandable. Karen and I are blessed with time to linger and so we do. We wander the streets and discover wonderful tree shaded neighborhoods with great cafes. We'll cross town just to try out some eatery that somebody
Typical Box Net Contents
A bit of everything. It's all sorted out into separate piles and sold accordingly. The only thing I saw tossed back were Hermit crabs. Some people collected sea-snakes which were a part of every catch.
turned us onto. We are rarely disappointed. There are few people in the food business here who speak English but with a bit of creative miming or drawing or pointing we always seem to get what we came for. We speak enough Vietnamese and speak it badly enough to put the Vietnamese at ease about trying out their own language skills.
We stayed at the Binh Duong Hotel right on the beach. $25 per night with breakfast for three. Sunrise delivered right to your window every day. The first time Karen and I came to Quy Nhon we were planning on a two night stay and ended up hanging here for seventeen days. It is a happy place for me. I always feel like I'm home here. Quy Nhon is perfect for catching up on your reading, getting some sun, sleeping and eating. The days have a lazy casualness that can cause you to lose track of time. In the early morning the boatmen return to the beach with their catch and their family brokers sell the same to eager buyers who arrive with the sun. Within 30 minutes it's all over with and the beach is deserted. When
When the fishermen come into shore at sunrise, a member of the fisherman's family acts as broker to sell the fish. This way the economic benefits of the individual fisherman's catch are spread through his family. Family is everything in Vietnam.
the sun starts to set, the town folk return in droves to swim, play games or to just sit in little cafes snacking and watching the goings on.
After breakfast we'll walk to the market to buy some fresh fruit for the room or get a haircut or a manicure or take a long nap. We usually take dinner at a street cart. Maybe something with rice or a big bowl of noodle soup with a crusty baguette on the side. Occasionally we splurge on fresh crab or a steamed Grouper served with fragrant herbs and rice paper. After dinner we'll sit at a low Bia Hoi table on a quiet street where they serve pitchers of fresh beer with salads and salted snacks on the side. The beer costs $1 a pitcher. We walk home past singing University students and tiny, twinkling amusement parks and drink vendors who will squeeze out a mug of sugar cane juice with a sprinkle of salt on top for thirty-cents. We tippy-toe past college kids selling odds and ends like cell phone covers and hard-to-find electronic cables which they lay out on blankets along the sidewalks and all the way home young
It was a good morning to be a beach dog.
girls twitter at the sight of us and their courageous boyfriends will firmly shake our hands and sincerely wish us good night in their best English.
Shouts to Noah in Canada and Isabella's guitar school in Weisbaden. Hello to Mom and Patty and David and April. What's up with you Dina? Markus wie gehts? Mel, how is the world's talkiest cat? Claus und Ulf; Alles ist gut. By the way; The Vietnamese word for cat is 'Meow'. No lie. Hello to Karlie's parents. We really need to talk some time just so we know that we really exist.
If you want more info about Quy Nhon go to our old blog at: http://www.travelblog.org/Admin/Blog/edit-entry.php?diary_id=582331
Our reviews of our hotels restaurants and sightseeing locales are all here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/members-reviews/N0ahsdad
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