where to begin?????
“let’s see, we spent 8 days in china beach which is located half way between danang and hoi an. and we loved every second of it. the only reason we left was cause we’ve now started a bit of a schedule to meet my mom. but, open long beach, very similar to hosugar (sp?) of southern france according to jeff, just not quite the waves right now. though, we did get one day of surf there. that’s right, WE. i kinda freaked and came in fairly quickly though cause it was getting too big for the likes of me.
our little hotel was quaint, on a dirt road that led to the beach where two little seafood restaurants were. the first few nights the vacant pine forest separated our hotel and the beach filled up with hundreds of high schoolers (you can see it in some older pics) going crazy with karaoke, games, singing and dancing…the vietnamese girls know how to get down. we were pulled into a few little dance circles not sure what to do, and both of us were pretty seductively ‘freaked’ by the locals… pretty funny. we have it all recorded (with sound)..classic.
from china beach we chose to stay one night in hoi an; a beautiful city with plenty of old architecture NOT destroyed by the wars past. we rented a motor and went a few days from china beach, but chose not to stay cause it was pricier than where we were anticipating and hot, with no beach at your doorstep. we got some clothes made, had some traditional foods and then were on our way south to jungle beach, another beach paradise north of nhe trang by 60km.
our clothes and a pair of sandals turned out pretty good and we were on our way, back on the night bus onward south. we heard about jungle beach through our china beach place owner, hoa (a very nice guy who loves his beer). we got on our bus, got some cozy beds, and at 4:30am we were dropped off alone in the middle of nowhere at a gas station. we made it.
to our surprise, but not really cause we’re in vietnam, two guys came out of the bushes and offered us rides to jungle beach, which is a 30km ride from there. after some negotiating we were on our way, once again on the back of a scooter with our way-too-large of bags (we weighed them and they are each teetering on 60lbs!!!). we had an amazing cruise, starting in the dark with the stars, then watching the sunrise over these beautiful landscapes of rice paddies and what smelled like cow fields. we hit the water, went through a small village, and voila, we were at the jungle beach.
an amazing place. it really was a backpackers resort. a private-ish beach, white sands, warmer water than where we had just come from (not that it was cold by any means, even up there), beautiful landscapes of jungle and hills with boulders and monkeys, great little rustic bungalows, play areas with a ping pong table, and some great food. it was ‘all inclusive’ per se – 22 bucks each, which included all meals and housing. alcohol was extra. overall a bit pricier than we were used to, but the experience was great and worth every bit of it.
it was really something out of ‘the beach’ but all positives… there were around 20 of us for the three days we were there. you get up around 7 or 8ish, walk around the beach, come up for a delicious breakfast that you get to pick (great scrambled eggs, the best yet, pancakes, frenchtoast…) then you do what you do best and hang on the beach. we all have our own little shades made of bamboo and we laid out, read and surfed. thats right, surfed!
jeff finally had his moments. me too! it was great. we showed up in the morning, everyone already down on the beach, but nobody was messing with the shitty, but workable surfboards. jeff picked up the long board, hit some waves, showed me how, and then everyone was out wanting to learn – it was great and hilarious. jeff was pushing german guys bigger than him on the board into a wave. everyone else was from europe so they had no experience but were dying to learn. it was so much fun!
at lunch we’re all summoned from the beach by the nice ladies and served a family style meal that is absolutely delish. we go back to the beach, repeat, the ladies bring us amazing juicy fresh fruit in the afternoon, beach, then dinner at 6ish…amazing food again. and then it’s back to the beach for party and bonfires with guitar and singing galore. it just felt so good to be surrounded by people of like minds doing what we do best…chillin. we listened and sang and just had an awesome time with great people. it was one of those moments where we were waiting for something bad to happen cause everything was so great. even the local guys were singing on the beach and sharing some local folk songs.
after a few days though, we had to depart. sylvio, the canadian trippy owner booked us a night train to saigon and we were on our way. coincidentally, 10 others were leaving so the timing was right. hopefully we’ll run into some again on the road…. the travel road always seems to be smaller than it really is.
we arrived in saigon, now ho chi minh city at 4:30am after a well rested train ride, bed and all, got a hotel and started our exploring. we ended up getting a cyclo, a three wheel bike and drove around town. our driver was hilarious and even famous; he got his photo taken riding his bike in some tourist mag. he wooed us with his charm and we were on our way.
first to the war remnants museum, the last of our war visits. a moving, depressing, amazing museum, definitely from the VC prospective. the favorite part of it was the section dedicated to all the correspondence/photographers that had lost their lives in the war. an amazing photo collection…the most moving part of the museum. american, french, english, japanese, korean, and vietnamese photographers. such telling stories. there was also a section on agent orange (appaling pictures and even two or three you could call it, real babies kept in liquid so you can witness the atrocities the poison causes), the tiger cage jails that the south used, one containing an old french guillotine (old school be-header) that was used through the early 60′s, old weapons/bombs, and alas, a beautiful display of local children’s artwork on how they see a peaceful world. great museum, but we’re done depressing ourselves.
we then moved on the cho’lon, the old china town. it’s not much of a china town now as many migrated/fled during and after the war. now it’s all in construction with whole blocks being demolished to create new streets. we saw a cool pagoda, lady in the sky , that was built in 906AD. then he took us for lunch, some delicious pho, our best yet. and he told us more of his past.
oh before that, the best part – he was telling us he has 4 kids (3 boys and 1 girl) where he lives and so forth. he recently found a baby at the rail station. crazy saigon. no one knew where he came from so he took him home and has been raising him for the last 8 months. he was telling us this story and then kept saying something but we couldn’t really understand. then it came to us: he was asking us to take this baby home as our own!!!!!!!!!!! he said he’d accompany us to the police station, get all the paperwork figured out, and then we could take him back to the states with us. he then started pulling out pictures of this adorable little boy. we said thank you but no thank you. but throughout the day he kept asking…. any takers???
so, we had lunch, he told of us his fight with the south from 68-71ish, he was shot twice but just barely, showing us scars above his eye and on his thumb. one of his two brothers disappeared in the war. the remaining of them served in prison for four years, at the end of the war, until they memorized the words of communism and were able to convince them of their dedication. now he still isn’t allowed in northern vietnam for his past southern alliance.
it was a great day spent with our friend. now we’re ditchin this massive city and heading south to the mekong…land of fruit and mosquitoes!
i’m sure there’s a lot more to be said, but jeffs waiting patiently outside so its time to go…. plus these computers are so damn slow you have no idea how long this takes just to do this and upload a measly 15 photos….when we have so much more!
peace and love”