We had a hard time finding dinner on our first night in Nha-Trang, since the area where we stayed was a bit desolate. After walking around, we found a busy place that served good phở.
Then we looked for beer.
A place in an alley appeared to have a happy vibe, so we sat there and had two beers that came with glasses full of huge ice blocks. Aside from us, there were a few more couples that ordered meat which came on a hot plate and they fried it themselves. We weren’t hungry, but we said we’ll come back the next day for dinner.

In the morning we ate breakfast at the strange and fancy hotel’s restaurant together with severe oligarchs from Russia and China. The chairs were draped in a white cloth that hadn’t been washed in months. On the corner stood leftovers from a wedding that took place there god-knows-when.
We had coffee outside and went to the beach, and after a few hours, we came back to the hotel for a brief shower and then back outside to look for food.
Everything was beginning to close for noon but we found a place that seemed open. Two mamas were sitting by the entrance, and when they saw us they woke up a girl who worked there and was getting ready for her nap.
We’ve felt a bit uncomfortable about it but they insisted that the place is open, and anyway the soup she served was great.

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The day passed by calmingly.
By sunset, we went to the beach again and watched as the sky darkened, and in the evening we came back to the place where we drank beer the night before.
The menu was in Vietnamese, and the owner of the place was a smiling middle-aged man who didn’t speak a word in English. We decided to be spontaneous and just pointed at a few things from the menu without knowing what we’re ordering.
We got some fried meats, with a side of fish parts (mostly fins) cooked in tin foils with a boiling sauce. Everything was delicious even though the fish had a lot of small bones in it, and I like the idea of not exactly knowing what we’re gonna get.
The man tried to speak with us via Google Translate.
He asked about Roni’s tattoo of a fisherman and a fish, and wrote through google “You are not intelligent”. Later on, we found out that the words “Fisherman” and “Stupid” are written the same way, so I guess he was trying to ask Roni whether he was a fisherman.

He called his friend, who spoke a little English, and they both sat with us.
We talked about politics.
The guy who spoke English said he thought politicians are like children, just messing around with their stuff, while us, the simple people, looking from outside and not knowing what they are doing.
He told us that now they have problems with the neighboring countries. The relationships between Vietnam and Russia are very close, like brothers, but Vietnam has problems with China which affects the relationship with Russia.
He said that there is tension on the North border of Vietnam, and that sometimes people in South China disconnect their electricity (as some sort of vandalism). I remembered that there really were many power outages in the North.

He went back to his friends, and we paid and began walking towards the hotel.
We saw him again on the way back, sitting by a plastic table in the street together with three more men and a woman. He said they were his brothers and invited us to sit with them.
As we sat, he explained that sometimes very close friends define themselves as brothers. He and his friends know each other since school, and they are now 55 years old.
On my left, one of the men poured beer for us and on the other side, a skinny man asked us where we came from. He said that the only thing he knows about Israel is that people used to blow themselves up in public places as a terrorist activity.
They asked us what we thought about Vietnam, and we said that we don’t know if it’s just us, but people in the South seem much friendlier than in the North. They said it was impressive we noticed that and those differences are because people in the North tend to be more poor and hard-working, so it’s harder to “get” to them.
We said goodbye and they wished us goodnight while winking, and we strolled drunk back to the room.

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By morning we packed, checked out and took a cab.
It took me a while to figure out why the driver was blushing and saying again and again “Madam beautiful”, until I noticed my blouse was open…
The cab took us to the area we saw when we just arrived in the city, bustling streets with a long boardwalk, busy roads, street-food, lots of people.
We booked the night before a small humble-looking place right at the center.
A young woman with glasses welcomed us and gave us the room key, and when we came back outside she explained about the area and helped us book a snorkeling trip for the day after.

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It was very refreshing to move from that bombastic hotel into a much more intimate and cute place, not to mention the area – which was also touristic but had a much younger vibe.
We took another cab to the marketplace.
We entered a big packed building with lots of booths and people calling us “Sir” and “Madam” from every direction, and after I bought a phone charger we went outside and walked between jewelry, swimwear, and pendants made of dried sea horses and star-fish. We looked at swimwear at a shop where a bellied man napped on a hammock, and sat somewhere for tasty Bún bò.
We got back to the hotel to change clothes and went to the beach, which was minutes away. The yellow sand, the green trees, and the turquoise water. We spread our sheets under coconut trees and drank out of two cold and juicy coconuts that a passing woman sold us, read books and went swimming.

By evening we went to look for a place that could fix my phone, which wouldn’t connect to any charger. After we booked another night from the sweet receptionist with the glasses we asked her where you can fix phones, and she showed us on a map how to get to the main street with many mobile-phone shops.
When we entered a big store, all the employees stood in line by the entrance to greet us, and a man with yellow teeth led us to a technician and helped us communicate with him.
We had 30 minutes to wait so we went to eat Bánh xèo, a crispy pancake made of rice and filled with shrimps, sprouts, and greens.

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We collected the phone after they changed some tiny part in it and came back to the hotel.
We passed by the night market, a colorful and lit place where they sold mostly jewelry and souvenirs.
When we were nearby the hotel heavy rain began to fall. We ran from building to building, store to store, and eventually sat in a French cafe and ordered two whiskeys on the rocks.
When the rain stopped we strolled on the boardwalk, and went to bed since we had to get up early the next day.

On the last full day at Hội An we went as usual to the beach.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by a small shack on the side of the road where they served Cao lầu and cold beer.
A dip in the pool and a nap at the hot hours, and Bánh mì at the Bánh mì Queen – a shrunk old lady who makes the best Bánh mì in Vietnam.
Just a while ago I remembered her and wondered how she’s doing, and though it’s funny I’m concerned about the health of a woman I met just a few times in my life at a faraway land.
The marketplace that night was humming and bustling since it was the peak of the Mid-Autumn festival. We walked for hours with the crowds and the street shows, stopping here and there for some beer or street-food, and ended the evening with fresh coconut juice.

Walking in a city’s streets knowing it’s for the last time everything seems a bit distance, like behind glass.

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The next morning we had coffee at a place where many local men sat and played some kind of a board game. A yellow lizard was watching us from above with its blank stare.
We went back to the hotel and packed our bags because it was check-out time, but since the bus to the next destination was leaving only by noon, we left our stuff at the reception and got outside again for Bánh mì.
There were four obese and friendly Australians sitting there, the ladies’ elbows seem to drown inside their arms. They told us it’s their second time in Vietnam – they were also there three years ago, and missed it so much they had to come back.
On the path outside a young woman parked her bike and took off her jeans jacket as she walked inside. The Australians asked her what I wanted to ask all along – how come they wear such long clothes in this heat. She answered kindly with a broken English that light skin is considered as beautiful for their standards, but sunscreen is too expensive. It made me wonder how they see us, the Western tourists, who try to catch as much sun as possible.

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We got back to the hotel’s pool as it got too hot outside, accidentally falling asleep for thirty minutes on the pool chairs, and then had a brief shower and went to the Coffee Bean at the main street. A young man sat outside on such an old and graceless motorcycle that it seemed almost vintage, drank cold beer and shooshed a lazy dog who sat in his shop entrance.
Then we went to a travel agency and booked a flight back to Bangkok on November 4th, about five weeks from that day.
It was something I knew we had to do, since the flight back home departed from Bangkok, but I remembered with longing the day back home when I looked for flights to Hanoi and chose gleefully one-way tickets.
I remembered how we organized parts of the trip, how we ordered a visa for Vietnam and bought backpacks and the realization that we were almost halfway through suddenly fell on me.

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By five PM the minibus arrived, so we said goodbye to the hotel employees and joined a young German woman who was already in the vehicle.
The driver drove around other hotels in the area and collected three girls from Hong Kong, a few locals and a French couple, and then drove to the main street and stopped by a big theater.
The bus was already there, a two-story sleeping bus like the one we took from Bắc Hà to Hanoi, and we waited there for about twenty minutes while it was cleaned from its last ride.
We got to get on it first which was good since the bus was completely full and I didn’t want a bed in the pathway.

The ride was long and strange.
The girls from Hong Kong complained about the air-conditioner, which couldn’t be turned off or modified. After everybody was tired from listening to them, one of the conductors gave them old newspapers and scotch tape to shut the air-con holes.
At 11 PM we had a break at a refreshment stop which had a small restaurant, and a long line to the toilets. Some French girls were shaken since the toilets were just a hole in the floor. We thought about getting some snacks at the restaurant but gave it up and went outside, to the utter darkness.
When we moved again they turned off the lights, so I could read only with my phone’s light and pray it will have enough battery. I was done with Paul Theroux’s Great Railway Bazar and finally began reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
I tried to sleep but the girl behind me kept messing with the scotch tape that shut the air-con and made a lot of noise, so I listened to music. I listened to Gorillaz’s Demon Days from the beginning to the end, which was something I didn’t do since I was 17.
I was so tired, but couldn’t sleep.
We passed by a dark blue sea with fisher boat’s lights, and darker skies from above dotted with stars.
At 3 AM we had another stop in the middle of nowhere. I went outside with some other people to pee by the bus, since there was no other place for it, while the driver was waiting impatiently. They left two passengers behind and had to drive backward for a few minutes to pick them up.
I was very uncomfortable because I couldn’t turn around in the bed/sit but only lay on my back, and could actually feel my muscles cramp under the air-con.
By 5 AM we finally arrived at Nha-Trang, with its boardwalks and beaches and hotels, as the sun began shining on everything.

When we got off the bus some bikers approached us to offer rides, but we needed a few minutes to recover from the night and figure out what to do next.
Eventually, we took a cab and arrived at the hotel by 6 AM. The ride was longer than we expected – apparently, the hotel was too far away from the city center.
It was very fancy, way more than we thought, which was strange since it wasn’t that expensive. There was a printed menu in the room which showed what you can order from the room service, translated to English and Russian.
Many people from Russia and China travel to Nha-Trang for vacations and business trips.
We slept for a while and went outside again by 8 – I was tired and had a headache, and the coffee we had by the hotel was well-needed.
Feeling refreshed, we looked for food and found a chubby shirtless man who coughed a lot but made delicious food.
At this point, I didn’t really care who cooks for us.

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We changed to swimwear and went to the beach.
Blue sky, torques water and green mountains in the distance.
Aside from us, there were only a few retired tourists with swimming suits straight from the ’80s.
I thought about the city center, about the nice boardwalk and the streets we saw from the bus, and about this dozy area and the way-too-fancy hotel. We booked three nights in advance and couldn’t get a refund, but we decided to give up one night anyway and look for a smaller place in the center, which appeared as a smart decision later on.

Cities have two faces – one turning inside, for the locals, and one turning outside, for the tourists.

As the soft sand squeaks under the feet in Platis Gialos beach in Sifnos, I look envious at the locals and wonder what I am missing. Back home some tourists must be jealous of me for living in a sunny place, 10 minutes away from the beach. Go tell them about how expensive the living is, about gentrification, violence, corruption. So what is it that I don’t see in this country? And what I didn’t see in Thailand? Vietnam? Portugal? Israel…?

When I was little and we used to go on family vacations it was a crisis for me to go back home, and it still is. The difference is that now I can deal with sadness.

That now I now that if your heart is broken, it means you loved.

And that traveling is lonely.

In one of the days at Hội An, we had coffee with Etienne, the French photographer we’ve met weeks before on the way from Bắc Hà to Hanoi.
He said in the European state of mind, people lack the motivation to create something of their own, and there is too much bureaucracy. Everybody raised an eyebrow when he decided to move to Vietnam.
In this part of the world, you could decide to open a business and just go with it. “It’s Asia, everything is possible!” he said, seeping on his coffee.
He told us about his job as a photographer and teacher and said he likes to go early morning to the fishing market, and take photos of the working people.
Later on that evening we looked for his Facebook page and it really did had spectacular photographs from the market.

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He recommended a place to have breakfast at, so we went there the next morning. It was a busy street with people sitting at booths, that were open just for a few hours each day.
We sat on the plastic chairs and had noodles soup with some kind of a round rissole made out of crab meat, lots of greens and lemon, and it really was as good as he said.
After breakfast, we went to the big market by the river that was still empty. We sat to drink some sweet Vietnamese coffee and looked at the colorful wooden boats that had eyes painted on their fronts.
A man approached and sat with us. He had a sun-kissed, wrinkled face, and long lean arms. He said he’s name was Captain Dan. The Captain told us that he guides tours on the river with his boat, and gave us his card.

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We strolled in the market. I bought a skirt from a tailor and ordered another one from a fabric I chose, and when it was too hot we stopped to have some cold fresh passion fruit juice.
When we were hungry we went to have Bánh mì at a place that boasted about Anthony Bourdain visiting and filming there an episode for one of his shows.

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Each afternoon we would rent bicycles from the hotel and go to the beach.
The way took about fifteen minutes – you go straight on the main road and as you go farther from the city center, there are fewer and fewer houses, and more fields with big animals and small rivers. Some of the rivers go under the road. As you get closer to the shore, buildings, restaurants, shops, and hotels appear again.
At the beach’s entrance, there is a parking lot for bicycles only, with a man who parks them and give you a note with a number. When you want to get the bicycles back you give him the note, and he finds it.

The beach itself is one of the prettiest ones.
The sand is soft and the water is clear and calm, stretching endlessly.
Đà Nẵng’s skyline is visible in the North, with its skyscrapers and bridges.
Straight ahead, the only thing that breaks the horizon is a lonely wooden boat that somebody tied there with a simple rope.
Some areas have more people, and some are empty.
We would spend hours on the beach, swimming in the water between plants floating here and there, walking on the sand, reading. Ordering a coconut with a straw in it from one of the women passing by.
You can was after swimming with a small squeaky tap on the side has ice-cold water.

My heart breaks a little every time I think of those days at the beach.
No commitments, not knowing anyone, no sense of time and no reason to go back.

There are many tailors in Hội An and you can ask for tailored clothes, so I bought a swimsuit from a woman who ran a store by the beach. I chose a fabric with a print of yellow flowers, and she let me try different shapes to match the size.
She asked if I wanted to add padding to the bra, and I blurted out “No thank you, I have enough”.
The ice broke, and she said repeatedly to Roni “Lucky-Lucky!”.
We liked her so much that Roni also bought a swimsuit.
Now the yellow swimsuit is hanging on the shower at home, reminds me of Hội An’s beach, singing “Lucky-Lucky” every time I wear it.

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One night, I dreamed I was sitting at the beach with a group of beautiful tan women. I say, “Do you know that feeling that you just want to go into the sea and stay there forever?”. The women node, one of them even says that this is what she did on her vacation in Italy. Later, I get into the water and dive and see that the bottom is full of cocktails’ umbrellas.

Roni woke me up, to go to the beach again.

In the morning a driver in a tall black van arrived and took us to where the bus station. While we drove by the big river, he told us that he’s Catholic and there are many Catholics like him in Vietnam, along with many Buddhists, but no Muslims at all.
We arrived pretty quickly to his office. It was a room facing the street, and in the entrance parked many motorcycles and small vehicles.
I looked around – there were two small fans on the walls that eased on the heat and a lot of photos with landscapes of the country.
The driver went out again and came back a few minutes later with the van. This time, many women got off the car, some of them pregnant and some with babies, got into the office and disappeared behind a beaded curtain.
We still had fifteen minutes to wait and I wanted to use the bathroom before we go. I went as well behind the beaded curtain into a big living room, where an old couple sat behind a table and drank beer. They kindly smiled at me as I took off my shoes in the entrance and looked for the bathroom around the house.

After a while, the driver told us to take our bags and cross the street, where we waited for the bus.
As it arrived, it was full of people from different countries and very humid. We sat in the back, hoping to catch a breeze from the window since there was no air conditioning.
Đà Nẵng and Hội An are close, so it took about an hour to get there.
A group of Asian tourists kept leaning above us to take photos. We could see through the window the bridge with the dragon, which everybody on the bus was very excited about, then the sea, some resorts places under construction, some shabby neighborhoods.
Eventually, we stopped at a sunny parking lot in Hội An.
As we got off, a bunch of bikers approached us and asked if anybody needs a ride. We joined two of them and they took us to the hotel.

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As we arrived, a nice polite woman with a blue dress greeted us, and said another Israeli couple was staying there and the guy’s name is also Roni.
A younger woman showed us our spacious room in the third floor, and after a brief shower we went downstairs again.
The women in the reception told us about the area and the hotel, and how to get from place to place. I had a hard time concentrating in the conversation because I was tired from the ride and the heat, and my eyes kept wandering to the sweat droplets on the woman’s forehead. They all wore thick and long clothes, and I imagined they must be really hot underneath them.
We went outside to look for the marketplace.
It was about 12 PM and the streets were dozy, but the market was relatively busy. We entered a big building with lots of booths of food and had hot and spicy noodles soup with lemon.
After we sweated all our demons out we strolled outside, exploring the city with the little streets and clothing and souvenirs shops, And when it was really hot we came back to the hotel’s swimming pool.
Since the beach was a bit far from the city center we chose a hotel with a pool, where we could spend the hot afternoon hours.

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The hotel was medium-sized and very cute and the pool was small and surrounded by plants, and pleasant women worked there. We hade coffee and swam in the chilly water and later on a woman with children came there too, and also the Israeli couple, who talked Hebrew quietly.

Around 5 PM the weather got better, so we washed in the room and went outside towards the night market.
We arrived at a wide river with lots of small colorful boats and crossed the bridge to the other side. Fat cows stood between the houses and munched on the grass.
As the skies got darker, colorful lamps were lit everywhere in the main street where the market was. Women in simple wooden boats cruised along the river and sold candles in different colored paper boats, and people bought them and floated them on the water.

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There was a festive feeling all around.
Once in a while, groups of children passed by wearing costumes of dragons, as one is the head and the other is the tail. Other kids walked with them, some dressed as chubby round-faced idols and others play drums.
It was a few days before the mid-autumn festival, which has a back story about a dragon attacking the sinners and the god of earth collecting bribe to calm the dragon down.

There were many booths of different objects, special lamps, clothes, jewelry, bags.
We sat to eat Cao lầu, a dish unique to the city – noodles with fried pork and lots of greens, and spicy sauce on the side.

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We walked a lot, on both sides of the river, getting lost in the stylish shops and streets. We went inside a book and souvenirs store and spent some time in there since everything was so beautiful. We saw various art shops, tailors, housewares – everything so special and diverse, like getting into someone’s attic full of goodies.
Like in Sapa we saw many Israelis, perhaps because it was the holidays in Israel.
we shared some fatty coconut pastry that Roni bought from a woman in the street, and had tea at a cafe that looked like a museum. We entered a coffee shop that smelled amazing and looked at the bags of coffee beans they sold and then tried coffee ice-cream that they made.

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It was getting late and the market was closing, so we walked back to the hotel.
Roni got into a small grocery store and bought ground coffee beans. while I stood outside and watched a big dragons-parade that blocked the street.
We stopped for beer in a bar on the way back, and went to sleep on the huge hotel’s bed.

We woke up early and went to have coffee by the sea.
It was exactly a month into the trip. The days before the flight, and Thailand, and my life with the old job, they all seemed like ages ago.

We took a cab to the city center and went to the market. It had a covered part with lots of seafood, huge fish and crabs, another part with meat, further in there were booths with housewares and different objects, and at the top floor were many shops and booths for shoes and clothes stacked on one another.
We explored the place slowly, mostly because it was shady and fans were working everywhere, and when we’ve had enough we came back to the heat outside.
We strolled the streets under the beating sun and stopped to have iced tea. We got it for free – many places serve complimentary iced tea, like tap water, so to them it was as if we just stopped by to have some water. The owner was very nice but I’ve felt a bit uncomfortable, so we left a big tip and went to look for food.
There were a lot of restaurants around that work kinda like a cafeteria, you just sit and get a plate of whatever they have today. Today, they served plates of rice with two shrimps, fried egg, tofu, two slices of beef, quail egg and fried pork with the bone.
Those places were my favorite, since the food was very comforting and filling.
Everybody began closing for their afternoon break.
Sweat was dripping on my back and the heat was tiring, so we took a cab back to the hotel.

The room was already clean and perfumed with a sweet cinnamon scent when we got back.
I had a refreshing shower and then we fell asleep for an hour or two, and when we woke up we went to the beach.
The weather was much better and there were fewer people than the day before, since it wasn’t the weekend anymore. The sea was a bit raging but cold and nice.
After a short dip, we sat on the sand between the curious crabs and read books, as the skies got darker and darker.
We passed the time between the sea and the books and when the evening came we were very hungry, so we took another shower at the hotel and went back outside to find a good restaurant.

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We stopped at a big restaurant by the beach, one of those that serve fresh sea creatures that they keep in the blue plastic tubs with pipes streaming oxygen into them.
They had such a wide variety that we had a hard time choosing, and eventually chose half a kilo of big shrimps and two fat crabs, together with beer and rice. A young gaudy girl struggled to fish them out because they kept jumping from her hands and twisted on the floor so we helped her catch them, and felt as if we were hunting for dinner.
She told us to wait for a table while a few sweaty young men cleared tables and set them with maps. Meanwhile, a skinny woman with a big burn on her arm served us bowls and chopsticks.
When we didn’t get the beer we saw that people just go to the fridge and take their drinks so we did the same, and when the server saw we took beer she gave us two glasses with ice.
Since they made everything by order we waited for a while for the food, but we didn’t mind and it was really worth it.
We got the crabs fried and cut into quarters, cooked in an orange sauce with something that looked like small prunes, and a little later we got the shrimps, fried in garlic and served on fresh green leaves. Then we got the rice, which we dipped in the sauces. The food was super fresh and well made, the beer was cold and the place was busy and happy, full of families and celebrating people. Street vendors walked around and sold fruits and toys for the kids.
At the end of the meal we asked where we can wash our hands, and they sent us to a sink in the middle of the kitchen. Next to the sink was a cage with a grey fat bird that stood on a small swing and napped.
We went to find somewhere to have some beer.

We sat at a small half-empty place near the hotel.
Apart from us sat a bunch of bellied friendly men who laughed with us and toasted and asked us questions about our country. On the side, at one of the corners, sat the children and family of the owner and watched TV. A young shirtless guy smiled and winked at me when we paid.
We walked quickly to the hotel, since I had to pee and all the pubs had only men’s rooms. I went up to the room and meanwhile Roni asked at the reception how to get to our next destination – Hội An, and then we tried to find a hotel there. It took us a while because we conflicted whether we should book a hotel by the beach, or in the city center.
Our hotel in Đà Nẵng was very close to the beach but it wasn’t easy to get to the city center, and we’ve felt as if we are missing something.
Eventually, we went to bed, saying we’ll decide in the morning.

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After we’ve slept on it, we decided to book the hotel in the center of Hội An.
We walked to the beach and looked at the blue sea shimmering in the sun, with small fisher boats in the distance.
We had fresh coconut juice and watermelon juice. There was a chill wind from the sea and the drinks were cool and refreshing, and calmed the hunger that began to raise.
We went to have a light lunch where we met the two Americans on the first day, and it really was as good as they said – noodles with beef, shrimps, vegetables and hard-boiled egg, with lemon and chili peppers on the side. At one of the tables in the corner sat an old lady who laughed at Roni and pointed at her head. At first we thought she’s laughing because he’s blonde, but apparently, she found it funny that he is not wearing a hat.

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We went back to the room that was already cleaned and perfumed with that cinnamon scent, had tea and napped for a while.
We got up at two and went to have iced coffee at a nice lady who also served us iced tea. A young shirtless guy, probably her son, appeared from behind a beaded curtain that led to another room, looking as if he just woke up from his nap. Then we went back to the beach.
We arrived relatively early, when there weren’t many people yet and the sun was beating, so we sat in the shadow of the lifeguard’s hut.
In Đà Nẵng’s beach, there is always soft music playing from speakers all around the area. Once in a while, the music stops for a recorded message of a list of safety rules recited by a woman with a sweet voice.
I tried to get an even tan because I’ve always had funny tan marks on my shoulders from different clothes I wore. As I did that I realized that the Vietnamese people try to avoid tanning by wearing long clothes that protect their skin even when it’s very hot.
Later on, we went swimming and walked along the shore. People began arriving little by little, mostly those who exercised on the sand. When we got a bit hungry we had another coconut juice at one of the shacks on the beach. We sat on the sand and read or tried to learn some more Vietnamese with the guide-book we got at Hanoi and looked at the crabs as they built their little houses.
When it got dark we went back to take a shower and went outside again to look for dinner.

It took us a while to find a place since we didn’t feel like having seafood like the day before and that was what most places offered, and we didn’t want to take a cab to the center.
We gave up and began walking towards the hotel to find something in the area, and right before we arrived we found a small place that served phở bò so we sat there. Next to us sat five local women who ate a lot of crabs and had a lot of beer, and were very loud.
After dinner, we went to get beer by the beach.
There were two kids on double bicycles that shone with many lights and played strident music. Then they fell, and people who sat next to us were rolling in laughter seeing them. Afterward, the girl walked angrily with the bicycles and the boy walked behind her and tried to tell her something, which made them laugh even more.

We went back to the last night in the hotel and snacked peanuts in front of the TV.
They had in Vietnam a few channels with movies in English with Vietnamese subtitles, so once in a while we managed to catch a nice movie.
We drifted off into a deep sleep in front of the TV’s blue light.

 

We really liked Huế but it was time to move on.
We decided that the next destination will be Đà Nẵng, a big city with a beach.

In the morning, after we booked the next hotel, we had coffee and sat by the river with books. A young woman approached us and wanted to chat to practice on her English, which was nice at first and got awkward after a while.
She told us she was 23 and will graduate from university soon, and lives with her parents. Some people in Vietnam (or in Huế at least) live with their parents until they get married. She also said she has a boyfriend but her parents don’t allow them to sleep in the same bed, because they want her to stay a virgin until the wedding.

We wanted to move on so we said goodbye after she added me on Facebook, and then we went to the market.
It was very hot and sunny, and after a short while we sat down to have Bún bò.
We got back to the hotel to pay for the room and book a trip to Đà Nẵng for the next day, and then I went to pack our bags and Roni went outside to look for an ATM. It took him a while and I started to worry, and when he came back he told me that he met the Australian man again.
We took a brief nap and when we were hungry we came back to the Bánh mì restaurant and had rice with chicken and noodles with beef.
We strolled in the city, exploring its streets and daily routine, getting to the more wretched areas. We had iced coffee at a stylish cafe where a woman with piercings and short hair worked and walked slowly towards the hotel.

In the evening, Quan took us to a big restaurant under the skies. Every table had a small grill, and you order skewers and meat and fry it yourself.
Many groups of young teens parked their motorcycles in the side and sat there, and some tables had crates with beers next to them. It’s a system we saw many times – when a big group of people comes in they just put a beer crate next to them, and when they want to pay the server count how many cans they took. It saves some time for the waiters and probably encourages the customers to drink more, when the beer is so available for them.
Quan ordered a skewer of okra, together with pork, shrimps and frog’s legs, and everything was fresh and crunchy and very good.
He showed us how to roll the frog in a big leaf and dip it in salt and lemon, but it was hard for me to eat like this since it was full of small bones. He said to just spit them out, but the whole sorting process in the mouth takes too much skill.
It was the first time I ever tried frog and it surprised me how gentle the flavor was, somewhere between chicken and crab.
Quan’s friend from high school joined us and said her name was Hang, which means Moon. She was very pretty, with a moon-like round and white face and full lips, and dimples on her cheeks. She was a bit shy but it went well because Quan was very chatty, and led the conversation.
He told us that he ate a dog several times and described the meat, which is similar to beef but harder and more fibrous. We asked him if he ever ate a cat and he was shaken, how can you even think of eating a cat?

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After lots of food and beer we came back to the hotel by foot.
We woke up the next morning with a slight headache. after breakfast, we went downstairs with our bags and left them at the lobby, and went to have iced tea at the woman by the hotel. One of the hotel’s employees sat there too, a woman with a cute smile who blinks a lot. She saw I had a lot of mosquitoes bites on my legs and recommended I put mint-oil on it.
They arranged for us at the hotel a trip to Đà Nẵng through mountains and beaches in the area.
A driver with long hair and a bit rowdy face showed up, and Quan helped us take the bags to the car. We said goodbye and added each other on Facebook, and the ride began.
Before we left the city the driver stopped and got out of the car, and a few minutes later he came back with a small green bottle of the mint-oil – apparently the woman from the hotel asked him to buy it for me. We thanked him and paid him back.
The oil has a strong smell of, well, mint, and it is used as a magic medicine for everything, from migraines to tendonitis. It stung for a second as I put it on the itchy bites, and then chilled the skin.

It was very hot and I couldn’t help but to fall asleep, and after about two hours Roni woke me up to see the view.
A white beach with blue water was spread in front of us, an infinite horizon with green mountains at the distance and some simple fisher boats in the sea.
We made a stop by a hut where they served seafood and went to dip our feet in the water, and take a walk across the shore. When it got too hot we came back to the hut, where there were some big aquariums with big fish and shrimps and some tubs with seafood. We had some fried shrimps and iced tea and moved on.

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The car parked in the sun and was very hot, and it took a while to cool again.
The driver stopped again at an amazing viewpoint above the sea. A man with a wide hat approached us and tried to sell us maps, and showed us his foreign bills collection.
After we took in the picturesque view we came back to the car and continued
The car was shaking on half-built roads between the mountains, until we reached the top of a high mountain and stopped again. It wasn’t as hot over in there thanks to a cool wind, and some plants and trees gave shade. There were some people with booths that tried to sell us souvenirs or drinks but we refused. We explored the place by foot together with a curious dog that followed us everywhere, and after the driver finished drinking his iced tea we continued.

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We drove for another half an hour, during which we stopped at another viewpoint where we could see the whole huge Đà Nẵng from above, and began going downhill into the city.
We drove between the small houses in the outskirts of the city and through huge houses in the center, above big bridges towards the beach, until we arrived at the hotel. An employee from the hotel with a fancy uniform greeted us and took the bags inside.
We said goodbye to the driver and paid and tipped him, and entered a clean big lobby.
A silver statue of many fish swimming upward towards the ceiling stood by the wall to our right. Behind the counter, a polite and nice woman gave us the key, and a young man came with us to the seventh floor and showed us the big designed room with the view to the sea.
Apparently, we booked a fancier hotel than we planned, and even though we usually prefer the smaller homely places, it was nice to indulge.

We showered and changed clothes, and went downstairs hungry.
It was the hot afternoon hour, and everybody closed for a break. Eventually, we sat at a small place that was still open, together with two tall American women who recommended the food. They told us that they arrived a week ago to a ten months trip in Vietnam, during which they are going to teach English to make a living. They asked us if we are going in the evening to the big bridge at the city center which has a yellow statue of a huge dragon all along, and said that each Sunday the dragon spits fire.
We tried to order food from the woman who worked there but she was closing as well and said she’s out of everything, so we kept looking.
We arrived at a seafood restaurant with blue plastic tubs on the floor full of different fish and sea creatures, and ordered fresh shrimps with rice.
After the delicious meal we came back to the hotel and waited for the hot hour to pass, and went to the beach at five.

Where we come from the sun sets into the sea, but in Vietnam it sets on the other side, so the beach was shady and chill.
There was a lovely vibe and many people swam or sat on the shore, and two lifeguards were strolling around – one on the shoreline and another one on a small boat in the distance. The water itself was wonderful and clear and the wind was cool.
We had a walk and stopped under a small shack, where two elderly hippies offered us beer via a funny pantomime of a drunk man. We stopped by to have fresh coconut juice.
When the evening came, we got back to have another brief shower, and then went to the city center.

We walked by foot on the slightly empty streets that were filling as we went.
We arrived at the bridge with the yellow dragon and crossed it towards the other bank, where dozens of people did aerobics in groups at a square with lots of statues and lights, and children skated on rollerblades and played with dogs.
We walked into the city itself, trying to avoid the tourist’s traps, and had some soup with dumplings in a small restaurant on the street.
Then we came back to the bridge, that was now blocked by cops for the fire show. At nine-thirty there really was some fire – on the other side of the bridge, where we came from, and it ended quite fast.
Thousands of people crowded to look at it, and the whole area had a festive feeling.

We walked back on the bridge, that slowly opened again, and sat to drink some coconut juice and sugar cane juice.
We’ve met the two Americans again, who said the show was kind of funny.
People began folding back the plastic chairs that they spread around to look at the dragon, and we came back to the room and went to bed.