Morning at the docks. The sea is not quiet, the ferry is jerking on the waves.

Before we set sail, a severe woman was giving sick-bags to anyone who requests them. A woman sat next to me, nodded and smiled politely, and then began vomiting violently into her bag.
We went outside to get some fresh air. My hair caught the strong wind, and I was happy. We’ve been together for five years back then, and only then I realized what it meant to be engaged to someone, or to be married – it means home.
It still does.

As the ferry arrived at the mainland we took a cab to the bus station. We didn’t really know where we were. At the station, I paid 10,000 Dong to a grumpy woman, because I needed to use the bathroom. It had no paper, no light, no door, and no soap.
We went in a van. It began driving, collecting passengers and items until it was filled to the brim: some chairs, really smelly boxes, a container of fish sauce. Somebody gave the driver a basket with a live chicken, to deliver to somebody else who was waiting by the road, an hour away. A woman sat in the aisle on a low chair, put her head on my shoulder and fell asleep.

After two hours we arrived at Châu Đốc, where we would spend the night.
The van dropped us at what seemed like no-where, but two bikers offered to take us to the hotel for cheap. The town itself was similar to Rạch Giá, also small and suburbian. We arrived at our room on the fourth floor of the hotel huffing and puffing.

Before we got there, I read that Châu Đốc was famous for its mosquitos. Well, they didn’t lie. Fat lizards were standing on every wall and ceiling, munching happily. The mosquitos were just everywhere. They thrive in such humid places.

We showered and walked towards the river that crosses the town, and had coffee. Then, feeling renewed after the ride, went to the market. It was nice, not too crowded. We’ve been told that many travelers come to Châu Đốc on their way to Cambodia since it’s very close, and indeed we saw many backpackers.

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In the evening we had dinner at a nice place with a happy vibe, that served fried rice with meat. We sat there for a while, enjoying the ambiance, and then took a walk around the town.
Like in Rạch Giá, Châu Đốc didn’t seem very interesting after dark. The market area was nice, with people and vendors, but outside of it everything was already getting closed.
We bought some beers and went back to the room. The beers weren’t cold yet, so we put them in the fridge and had tea at the hotel’s lobby. It felt nice and casual.
Back in the room, we watched a horror movie and drank the beers. It was almost Haloween, and the movies channels featured scary movies every night. This night, they showed Oculus, a movie about a brother and a sister who explore a mirror they had in their childhood, that haunts the people around it.

In the morning we took a cab to the central station, and then a bus to Cần Thơ. It took nearly four hours on the crooked roads to get there, and a man near me was vomiting the whole time.
I’ve felt sorry for all those car-sicked people, and there were many of those in Vietnam. Somehow, they were not very good at keeping their stomach’s content inside during these long rides.

I was glad to come back to Cần Thơ, even just for a night. We walked around the city, getting to know it again. After lunch, I went back to the hotel to take a shower, and Roni went to get a haircut. He came back after an hour with shorter hair and told me that everyone in the barber’s shop wanted to touch his blonde hair and take photos with him. When he left he said “Thank you” in Vietnamese, and the crowd roared in laughter.

In the evening we went to the night market, had passionfruit juice and a delicious Xôi gà for dinner, and walked around.
Then we went back to the hotel. The receptionist we knew from the last time was there, and he sat with us for beer and asked for help again with his English homework. We talked about our lives and our wishes for the future. He said we could stay in Vietnam and teach English, and once we have enough money, we can open a restaurant. Then, once in a while, we can leave the restaurant with somebody we trust and travel the world.
We actually wanted to stay in Vietnam for longer, but there was this job offer we received back home, and we couldn’t say no to this.

We went to bed. It was strange, to be back there, but now going backward. It didn’t have the same coziness I have felt the first time we’ve been there. The next day we would travel North back to Hồ Chí Minh City, our last destination, and I was already starting to say goodbye.

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We stayed in Phú Quốc for a week, which was way more than we planned on.

Maybe it was an end-of-journey tiredness, that made us immerse into any kind of routine, and feel at home in places that were never our home. We had our favorite restaurants and cafes, the regular people we’ve seen on the beach. Like an alternative universe that exists for a week only.

I also knew, that once we’ve left the island, it’s nearly over. We’ll go back to Hồ Chí Minh, and then to Bangkok, and then home.
And that would be it. That would be the time to put away the bathing suit and begin adult life.
As if this was Neverland and the ocean water would keep me young forever.

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In most of the mornings, we had breakfast at a family restaurant that served some sort of a breakfast-Bánh mì, with fried eggs and vegetables, and delicious coffee.
We spent most of the days on the beach, reading our books and swimming. I loved seeing the subtle changes. Where the coconuts fell from the treetops, where a crab dug a new hole in the sand, the ebbs and flows. In one of the mornings there’s a big branch floating in the water, the next day it was carried away by the currents.

If we stayed for a bit longer, I’d grow algae on my feet.

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There was a cafe we liked, that belonged to a family. The mother served the coffee, the father was usually working on his bike. All types of people sat there, from European tourists to truck drivers. A woman who was getting a manicure the day before got a facial today.

In the evenings, we took long walks around the town. Phú Quốc is famous for its pearls so they are sold everywhere, especially as jewelry. I loved looking at the shop fronts, some of them looking fancy, decorated with huge conches, or shattered glass that looks like sparkling waves.

On one of these days, we decided to go see the Nước mắm factory – where they make fish-sauce. We weren’t sure where it was so we took a cab, and told the driver to come back in half an hour.
Inside was a small shop with bottles of different sizes, with sauces in different levels of saltiness. They also sold dried and salted fish and shrimps, huge seashells, pearls.
Past the shop was a yard, with shirtless men working. It was by a dock, and the men carried big bags of stocks from a ship into the factory. We asked one of them if we can get inside and have a look, and he showed us where to go.
This must be the smelliest place on earth.
It was a big hall with huge barrels, tubes going in and out of them, with the Nước mắm cooking inside. A leader was leaning on one of them so we climbed to see what’s inside – a brown, thick liquid with strange objects floating inside, perhaps fish parts. The fishy smell was so strong and salty, it made my eyes water. How can such a delicious thing smell so bad?
Back at the store again, the salesclerk let us try different kinds of the Nước mắm, and we bought some home.

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On the last day, we decided to get married.
We spent almost the entire day at the beach until it got way too hot. I said goodbye to the ocean, knowing this was probably the last time in the next years I swim in it.
In the evening we came back to the night market for dinner, and chose one of the seafood restaurants. Those places have a display of today’s catch, some of it still alive. I saw the squids on ice, just lying there, staring and changing their colors.
We had succulent crabs and different kinds of big shrimps, together with steamed rice and ice-cold beer.

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Back at the room, we sat on the porch and decided to get married. We drank beers, looking at the dark sea and the lights from fisher boats, and the stars from above, and talked about the future.
The funny thing was, that we always said we would never get married, and never officially did. It was more about the idea of thinking about our future together, than about a wedding. We’ve never really needed one.
We toasted with the beer cans, and called our parent. I called my mom first, and when I called dad afterward she was quick enough to tell my sister before I had the chance.
After telling everyone, we cheered again.

And since that night, we’ve always been traveling together.

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We got up early and had coffee at the lobby with Miss Vy, and then went to the travel agency where we booked the bus ticket the previous day.
The same clerk was there and she rode with us on a van that went to the bus station, and then showed us where to go and said goodbye. We took a bus to the central station, and then another one to Cần Thơ.
The ride took several hours, during which I wrote in my diary, listened to music, napped. It was a bit strange that I managed to pass long rides with my nose in a book without getting car-sick.

When we arrived at Cần Thơ, taxis and bike drivers gathered by the bus doors and offered a ride to anyone who got off. It was confusing, and we needed a few minutes to figure out where we are and where to go, when we saw a van going to the city center.
Through the windows, the city seemed suburbian and cute.
We stopped in front of a small hotel where a polite young man greeted us, gave us a city map and told us where it’s best to eat. After settling down in our room we went out.

The city is built on branching of the Mekong river, with the main street on its bank. At its center, there’s a humble marketplace, and simple city life – the sun stands high in the skies and underneath it people are working, eating, napping on hammocks. Some fishermen standing by the river, boats passing by.
In the evenings there’s a night market, which has one street with clothes and a parallel with food stalls.
After a walk in the city and a dinner we put together from several stalls we went back to the hotel, where we had beer with the receptionist (unfortunately I forgot his name) and went to bed.

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The next morning we got up at four-thirty AM and had coffee at the lobby until we saw the guide for the trip to the floating market on the Mekong that we booked the day before. He led us to the docks where we went on a small wooden boat with a small middle-aged lady, that navigated with an engine on a board that she operated underwater.
The sun began rising as we sailed the quiet water and actual neighborhoods emerged on the river bank, with houses built on pickets on the water.

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Big ships greeted us on the entrance to the floating market, and then small wooden ones like the one we had – at first just a few, leading to heavy boat traffic. On the prow of each one stood a bamboo stick with an example of what they sell, mostly fruits but also various appliances.
A cry from bellow of “Hellooo, coffeeee” caught our attention, and a woman who sat in what seemed like a floating tub sold us some coffee.
We kept sailing slowly through the market that stretched on several kilometers.
In the end there were fewer boats and we turned and made our way back through narrow canals, and the guide told us about life in Vietnam.
He was a young man, an engineering student, and said that the labor market is tough for the young generation but there is always a demand in construction, since it’s a developing country. Right now they are dealing with global warming and the approaching rising of sea level by high construction near the shores.
The sun was high and it was getting hot when we finally arrived back at the dock.

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We got off and said goodbye to the guide and the driver, and went to get some tasty Phở.
I thought about that young guy, who seemed a bit sad and unpleased.
I thought about the temporary jobs I’ve had as a student back home – serving coffee to tourists, on their way to or back from the beach, enjoying the sunny days while I struggle to balance my precious time between working and studying.
When a tourist asks about life in Israel, go tell him briefly about the military, gentrification, corruption, violence.
It made me think about all the things the guide didn’t have the time to tell about.

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Despite being told Cần Thơ was boring, we spent almost a week in there.
The main excuse was that we had to wait until the weekend was over to fix my phone, but the truth was, we really liked the place.
Passionfruit juice with books by the river and food stalls that served Xôi gà – a comforting dish of rice with chicken, vegetables and quail eggs. Tiny cafes, a marketplace with a load of strange vegetables.
We met some people at the hotel – Thom from New Zeeland who traveled North with a rugged bike, and Keith, an English pensioner who roamed through South-East Asia and bought local women’s hearts with his retirement money.
At the evenings we’d get dinner at the night market and then went back to the hotel and sit with the owner on the steps outside, the humidity is high and drunk mosquitoes are buzzing around, drinking beers and talking in broken English into the darkness.
The polite receptionist kept calling us “Miss” and “Sir” even after we gently implied he can lay aside the formality – possibly he felt more comfortable this way. He told us he was in the military but working in an office and study English in his spare time, and asked for help with his homework.

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As a new week began, I went to a big store that fixes phones.
I walked a lot on foot since it took a while to catch a cub, and when I finally did the driver and I had a hard time connecting because of the language barrier, but eventually we’ve made it there.
I walked into the big clean space and was greeted by a woman with a traditional Vietnamese dress, marching in tiny steps and smiling without showing her teeth. She served me coffee and sat next to me with a polite smile, waiting for me to speak. It seemed a bit odd but I tried to somehow explain what the problem with my phone was. She smiled and nodded and after I finished she remained silent and kept looking at me, and then referred me to a man in a tie that sat by one of the stations. I asked, “English?” and she said, “Yes, yes”.
I sat in front of the man, and told the problem again. He looked at me and I looked at him, and then he typed on his phone for a while. Eventually, he showed me the screen – a Google Translate page was open there with a text – “What is the problem with phone?”. I took a deep breath and explained again, slowly, using the Translate and hand gestures. In the end, he picked up the phone next to him and dialed, and let me speak to another man on the other side. After I explained the problem again to the man on the phone, he asked me to wait.
I kept sitting there in awkward silence until the guy arrived – a man with wide bearded face and hands as big as paddles. He sat next to me and talked about politics, of how they are all corrupted and play with us like soldiers on a chessboard. When I told him we call our prime minister Bibi, he rolled in roaring laughter and slapped his knee.
He took my phone and messed with it for a while, and said he fixed something in there but it might take a few days before we can know if it worked. I asked if I can get a new battery, and he said there are no phones batteries in the whole Mekong Delta.

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When I got back to the hotel, Roni sat outside with Thom next to him on the sidewalk, working on his bike with hands black from motor oil. After he was done and the bike ignited successfully, he parked it and asked if we were hungry.
We sat at a small street restaurant that served noodle soup, and spoke about restaurants in our countries. Thom said he used to fish and hunt his meals back in New Zeeland. It led to a long conversation about vegetarians and vegans, and about food-ideologies in general. After we had coffee together we went back since dark rain clouds appeared in the distance.
In the evening we went to the main mall, possibly the biggest in the area, because they had a Galaxy store and I wanted to check one last time if they can somehow fix my phone – they only offered unnecessary gadgets, so I just accepted the fact that the phone is dead. next to it was a designed ice-cream parlor, a cinema and an arcade, and groups of teenagers gathered by them.
We had dinner at the night market at a stall with a woman who laughed at us because we are westerns, and then kept strolling for a while.
In one stall they sold olives in what seemed like oil and chilly. I was very excited since during the last weeks I developed a crazy craving for olives, and those seemed so nice and juicy. It was only after I put one in my mouth that I realized it was some exotic and too-sweet fruit. We also got some durian – a big fruit that looked like a spiky melon, bright yellow on the inside, and a smell that resembles a pineapple.
We got back to the hotel for beer with the receptionist. I tried the durian and thought it was gonna be sweet-sour like a melon, but it was so sweet it made me sick – kind of like gum for kids loaded with sugar.
Keith also appeared in the lobby with a grumpy Thai woman, and while she went upstairs he stayed with us. He told us he speaks many East-Asian languages and showed us he was chatting in Thai with various women. He used to be a history teacher, and four years ago he retired and divorced his wife. Now then he’s traveling in Asia, meeting women who are looking for an older man with money. He laughed and said his money was worth a lot in those countries.

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We went upstairs and booked hotel rooms in our next destinations, and went to bed. Even though I brushed my teeth twice, I could still sense the durian’s sweetness in my mouth.
In the morning we packed our bags and had a humble breakfast of bread with jam and butter at the lobby, when a van arrived and we took it to the central station.
I said goodbye to the city through the window – the hotel, the river, the main street, the marketplaces, and the small restaurants and cafes. From the central station we got on a bus and began the bumpy ride to Rạch Giá, where we would take the ferry to Phu Quoc.

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I walked alone and listened to music, and tried to find the Crazy House – a place I saw marked on the map they gave us at the hotel but didn’t really know what it was.
I found the place after looking for it for a long time in a maze of small streets and alleys.
At the entrance, some Russian tourists stood, and local women sold merchandise and strawberries. I bought a ticket for 40,000 Dong (about a dollar and a half) and entered.
It was lovely inside, special and different, like being in a Doctor Seuss’s book.
It’s some kind of a museum that functions as a hotel as well, made of a few buildings with lots of steep staircases leading into and out of strange rooms.
Small, cozy bedrooms were looking as if they’ve been carved out of rocks or tree trunks. Hidden at the bottom floor of a building, there are a lobby and a living room with wooden furniture and maps on the walls, a funny gift shop is concealed somewhere, and amongst the buildings, there are yards with sculptures and hidden places, ladders, low porches.
If you go high enough, some of the staircases are becoming bridges that go over the whole Crazy House and whole Đà Lạt, and you can see the rooftops of the small colorful houses.

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I went downstairs, where there was a small kiosk, and bought passionfruit juice. I sat with my book by a lake, while toads cackled with their gruff voices and groups of tadpoles swam in the water.
When I finished the chapter I walked around some more – I looked at a big cage where different species of fat doves napped on the branches of a tree.
As the skies got cloudy again I walked back to the hotel, where Roni was already waiting.
Rain began falling outside and after we showered we sat on the bed and watched “The Social Network” that I somehow managed to download to my phone, and by evening, as the rain stopped, we went for dinner.
We sat at one of the places where you get a small grill to the table and order skewers to roast on it, ate fresh meats and drank beer. Heavy rain was falling again, and when it weakened we quickly went back to the hotel.
It was cold and we cuddled in the bed, and continued watching the movie until we fell asleep.

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In the morning we ate soup with mushrooms for breakfast. At the table near us, a woman with a Chinese look and an American accent tried Vietnamese coffee for the first time and admired its chocolate flavor.
We went to the market again to find me some shoes. At the hotel’s entrance, there was a place to put your shoes at, and in one of the days, my sandals just disappeared from there.
On the second floor of the market, there was an area with only different kinds of shoe shops, from practical ones for work to fancy ones, and I found flat colorful canvas shoes which I liked immediately.
I still have them in my closet and they’re starting to fall apart, but I can’t throw them yet because they remind me of Đà Lạt.

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In the afternoon we went again to the Crazy House because I wanted Roni to see it too.
I was glad to go back because everything was so cute and strange, and Roni liked it as well. Meanwhile, the evening came slowly.
It was our last day in Đà Lạt and I was a bit sad to leave – the sweet homey hotel, Hien the receptionist, the chill city.
We had dinner at a place similar to the night before, with a small grill served to the table, and for the first time I tried a roasted chicken leg. It was nice but poor with meat and had lots of bones. A local mother sat next to us with two little girls who were scared of the grill’s red sparks.

We moved from there to the night market, which was closed to cars and very busy with people and vendors.
At the central square stood two people with huge costumes of a Minion and Hello-Kitty, and some teenagers pushed them to make them fall down. We walked around a little, Roni got himself a pair of shoes, and then we had ice-cream at a small cafe.
We went back, organized our backpacks and went to sleep.

We got up at seven AM, got dressed quickly and went downstairs for check-out.
We sat with Hien for a breakfast of rice leaves rolled with meat, and coffee.
Her sweet sister joined us too but her English wasn’t so good, so she mostly smiled in silence.
A rough rolling sound broke the silence – Nip and Quan, the motorcyclists, parked their heavy motorcycles outside. As we loaded our things on the bikes Hien gave us scarves as a gift, to cover our mouths and noses during the ride.
Roni went on the bike behind Nip, a middle-aged man with a thin mustache, and I sat behind Quan, a quiet man with moon-face that seemed age-less, even though he must be over 60.

The motor ignited and rumbled beneath us as we made our way through the heavy morning traffic. After we passed by the central square we caught up with Nip and Roni, who disappeared in the distance for a while.
The bike accelerated and the wind began blowing through the hair as we left the city, towards another journey.

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On the two and a half days Quoc and Giang were in Đà Lạt they took us to restaurants, cafes and bars we would never have found on our own. It made me grateful again about the decision to leave the fancy hotel in Nha Trang, and move to their cute one.

On the first evening, they left us a note at the hotel’s reception saying they’ve booked a cab to come to pick us up at eight and take us to their favorite place.
The cab took us to the front of a big loud restaurant where they waited for us. After we got inside and sat, they ordered for all four of us a big comforting hot-pot, a soup that comes in a big bowl at the center of the table together with vegetables and meats you can cook inside, and everybody share it.
I told them we’ve seen people eating snails but never tried it ourselves, so they ordered a dish for us to try. Aside from the snail itself, the shells were filled with chopped pork, and were served with a stem of lemon-grass so you could pull out the shell’s content with it.
The snail itself had a texture similar to calamari and a very gentle flavor I could hardly feel, because it was blended with the strong tastes of the pork and lemon-grass.
Quoc and Giang told us they have a three years old daughter back home named Sushi since they like sushi. Quoc tattooed her name on one of his fingers.

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After dinner, we went together towards the market.
The hotel itself is inside an alley and outside of it there’s a small lake, followed by a steep hill leading to the central square of the market, a building with four or five floors.
We went to a cafe in the area called Windmills and sat on the second floor, at a porch viewing the square.
Roni and I had tea and Quoc and Giang had green matcha-based coffee drinks, and together we shared a tiramisu and another cake with cheese and berries.
We talked about the hotel in Nha Trang.
Quoc confessed that when he got our booking and saw we were from Israel, he was nervous because they had a bad experience with Israelies before. He asked the receptionist to be extra nice so we won’t have reasons to complain. We said we are aware of it that Israelies can be rude when traveling, and some hotels in the world won’t accept us at all.
They told us about customers from different countries they’ve had who complained about strange things, such us not having an elevator even though they knew that when they booked the room, or the place not being fancy enough, while the price is super cheap.
It’s nice you can give a review on Trip Advisor or Yelp, but it can hurt small independent places when people give low ratings for nothing.
I said I always check the most negative reviews to see if they were legitimate, or just petty.

We really liked the huge marketplace and the area around it.
To get there, you go down some stairs and reach the big square with a grass plot in the middle, and lots of restaurants and cafes around it. From there, you can turn right to a big street where dozens of modern and traditional restaurants are under the open skies, together with stalls of jewelry, various hand-made items, souvenirs. Behind the square stands the crowded market building, burdened with shoes, clothes, make-up, groceries. Around the building there are more stalls, the merchandise lays on a rug on the floor.
From one of the top floors, there is another exit to a different, higher street – since the city is so mountainous, it’s built with different levels.
In the evening lights are turned on in the square. There’s a thick crowd of families, dogs, children, young honeymooners, vendors who sell unnecessary items.

On the second day, Quoc and Giang took us for lunch at a tiny restaurant near the market with two crowded floors and a big grill outside. We had a delicious meal of rice with grilled meat and small bowls of soup on the side. Then we went for coffee and ice-cream at another place.
It began raining heavily, so we sat there for a while and looked at the raindrops from inside.
Quoc and Giang were the kind of people you can talk with for hours about anything, and you can also not talk at all.

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In the evening, Roni and I walked around by ourselves.
We sat at a cafe by the hotel and talked with some friends back home, walked slowly towards the market and stopped for a nice comforting bún bò, and at eight-thirty we met Quoc and Giang for beer. There were some hostels around with loud young American tourists who sat in nearby pubs, and Giang said that Western tourists always seem to her excited and full of energy.
The stories they told us about the Israelis they’ve met before, and tourists from other countries, made me wonder for the millionth time how we were being perceived in this country.

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In the morning, we sat on the colorful couch in the hotel’s lobby and had breakfast with Hien, the receptionist we’ve met on the first day. We said goodbye to Quoc and Giang who went back home to Nha-Trang, and went for a walk outside.
We walked slowly to the flowers garden – a park that is an attraction in Đà Lạt, which is known for its flowers and greenhouses. We walked lazily, looking at stores here and there, and got inside a pagoda we’ve seen on the way that was very peaceful and quiet.
We almost arrived at a big central lake, when a middle-aged man with a blue Eazy Riders jacket approached us and began chatting.
He was very welcoming and nice and we were planning to have another motorcycles trip to the next destination anyway, so we walked with him to his office, where we had tea with him and his partner and planned a three days trip and then a bus to Hồ Chí Minh City. They told us that it was the low season so they lower their prices since they were Buddhist and believed in Karma.
What goes around comes around, he said.
We took their details, shook hands and went on walking by the lake.
We walked on a big grass plot, stopped where two well-groomed horses stood and bought a bag of sweet popcorn for a snack. The skies got darker and it looked like it was about to rain, so we decided to go back towards the market and visit the flower garden on another day.
We arrived at one of the restaurants on the market’s square and sat under a big shade right when pouring rain began to fall, and had a spicy Phở bò. A lazy cat took a nap on my bag and covered itself with my scarf.

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When we finished eating we ran in the rain to the covered part of the market and stayed there until the rain stopped, and went back towards the hotel with the thunders still roaring in the distance.
In the evening we went again and had peach-tea at a cafe with a slight smell of coffee and cigarettes. We wanted to have dinner at that tiny restaurant where Quoc and Giang took us but they were closing, so Roni said we should get some pizza, something that suddenly we both had a craving for. We ate at a great pizzeria, even though the service was a bit too official for us, and looked at drunk tourists in the street and dogs playing on the road.
It was the only time during the trip when we had Western food and it was very comforting, but to be honest, I loved the local food so much I hardly missed anything.

In the morning we sat again with Hien for breakfast, ate the yummy soup they served for breakfast and had coffee. Hien told us about her job and life.
She chose this job because she loved meeting people from around the world, so she can practice her English and expand her horizons. Her sister works in the hotel as well but more at the back on the house, such as maintenance and kitchen.
We asked how come the stay there is so cheap, yet the hotel is so nice and clean and they serve such delicious breakfast for free. She said that Ken, the owner of the place, believes in giving as much as possible.

It was a bright sunny day, even warm, so we decided to try our luck again and go to the flower garden. We passed by the big lake again, where the beautiful horses stood. People paddled in the water in small flamboyant boats shaped like swans.
After a long walk, we found the beautiful entrance, paid 60,000 Dong (about 2-3 dollars) and went inside.
It was quiet, clean and very well-nurtured. Small pathways meandered between lawns and floral gardens where shrubs were trimmed into shapes of pitchers, kettles, teacups. A miniature house with a roof made solely out of flowers stood by a lake, and wind chimes gently chanted on its entrance. Nearby stood bonsai trees, that with a close look seemed like tiny fairy-kingdoms.

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We sat for coffee at a nice woman with a stall by the lake and kept on walking. We saw here and there young local couples, and aside from them, the place was relatively empty. We went inside a greenhouse with dozens of different species of huge orchids, where a Western woman talked with the saleswoman about the cultivation of the flowers.
We strolled there some more, enjoying the cool fresh air of the ground and vegetation until the noon rain clouds appeared in the distance again, so we went back to the market’s area.
We had a tasty lunch at the small restaurant with the grill outside, and when the rains stopped we decided to split for a while and travel by ourselves.
Roni went to the market, and I put on my headphones and went to explore the city.

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.

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.