Lepers, Serenades and Pelting Lychees
It has been a long time between drinks....Here I am in Hoi An where I have been for the past 4 days. After Nha Trang I did head to Quy Nhon but changed my mind about heading to Kon Tum for the reason that I had had enough of the solitary life for a little while. In Quy Nhon I was about the only foreigner in town and that wouldnt have gotten any better ini Kon Tum. So instead I headed to Hoi An which is infested with tourists like cockroaches! At least an oppurtunity for more than a basic conversation....
So, to Quy Nhon
Thuy is from Quy Nhon, but lets not hold that against the place! Thuy was the chick I mentioned from Nha Trang, the one with the whiff, or should I say stench, of desperation about her. The one that I met in the Bia Hoi. The one that seemed to be around every corner I turned. On the bike - there she was! On the beach - here comes Thuy! I couldnt escape the woman. And though we did understand each other, she clearly didnt completely have a grip on the entire situation, because she still requested "boom boom" with me when I attended the bia hoi on my last night in Nha Trang. Sad sad woman!
I got the bus to Quy Nhon, arriving at the bus station, where I was quickly esconced on the back of a motorbike and whisked into town without a word from me as to where I want to go. Possibly unsurprisingly, the dude took me to a place called Barbara's, which is precisely where I wanted to go. Barbara is a New Zealander who has been living in Quy Nhon for 13 years - there is a whole connection with the town and NZ - something to do with them involved in the hospitals and helping out socially. Anyhoo, for me the hotel was pretty swish (little did I know what awaited me in Hoi An!), very comfy with a lovely bath and a balcony. Not with a seaview mind you. My room (the cheaper option) was at the back of the hotel, looking over a few restaurants and a neighbouring tennis court/club of some sort.
The restaurants were OK, the noise not too bad, and settling reasonably early. The problem was the tennis court, or in particular, one certain a*hole. At approximately 5.15 every morning, a pair of suitably attired couples would arrive for their morning recreational activity. The dull thwop of the tennis ball careering back and forth would not have been much of a bother to me. And the cohorts of the a*hole were not too raucous at all. However this one ******er was a screamer. And none too attractive a one either. Did my head in! The first morning I was in a bit of a daze, not realising what was going on. The second I had it sussed. The third I was in a bit of a state. SUrely not every morning! Oh yesssssss! Thankfully, those rambutan I had purchased on the way to Nha Trang came in very handy when I was able - from my balcony hiding place - to pitch them at the little f**ker. Oh it was a joy viewing him looking askance to the heavens trying to work out where they were coming from. Of course it didnt shut him up and after about 15 free throws, I decided to head back to bed. I was leaving the next morning (my bus was out of town at 6.30 and I was being picked up at 6), so it wasnt too much of a bother for me. But dammit, I had some rambutan left over (some of which were in a delicious state of partial rot) and I would be w***ed if I was going to waste them. So, before they arrived i pelted them , one by one, all over the court. And had great joy waking up the sound of my dear friend sweeping the court of all that juicy lusciousness! Oh, happy days!
Quy Nhon is a nice little town, set in a bay. Very picturesque indeed. The beach in town is not so great, but head South to where the Lepers lay, and you are in absolute heaven! Yes, thats right. The lepers always get the best beaches! There is a leper colony just south of town, a hospital within the grounds and accomodation for the families, right on the beach. Of course, I got lost on my first attempt on my trusty mountain bike in the morning, climbing and climbing a mountain before that "this doesnt seem right" feeling that was laying just beneath the surface for an eternity finally came to the fore and I headed back down, thinking "Maybe I will head to the Cham Towers" instead, whereupon the same situation occurred. After many kms I decided it might be time to head back to Barbaras and, whilst having some lunch, ask the friendly young staff for some directions.
Second time around, the beach was easy to find. It was just the peddling up and up and up which did me in. The view, when I turned a corner, to see the beach way down below, was stupendous. And I looked forward to the ride down, until I discovered that my brakes were no longer very effective. So I did a Fred Flinstone, using my feet as a more effective measure for stopping, and reminded myself that I would have to walk the bike down on the way back.
As I said, the beach was heaven, and deserted save for the locals. Immediately on arrival, a lady passed by with a cooler and offered me a beer! Nice! I then found myself a nice hammock which I rented for the day and settled in to finishing off another book about Vietnam and, in particular, the war era entitled "When Heaven and Earth CHanged Places: which - I believe - was made into a movie titled "Heaven and Earth". Bloody good read. It was a lovely day with more beers and relaxation, interrupted by the occassional stubby fingered leper wanting to have a chat or - in one instance - serenading me with a number of Vietnamese tunes. Delightful! I got absolutely soaked on the way back as the heavens opened (yet again), but that was a nice experience in its own way, too.
I have to say I did the whole Western food thing and only ate at Barbaras following my experience after eating locally late the first night I arrived. This was at a Vegie Restaurant, the kind where u walk in and they just load up your plate with whatever they have cooked and you absolutely gorge yourself on soup and a main for about 50 cents. Gorge myself I did, though I often didnt know what I was eating. The next morning I went for a constitutional and for those who are not wanting to hear about the goings on with my bowels, please feel free to skip to the next paragraph. Desperate times, let me tell you. I was quite a way from my hotel, when that feeling struck. I didnt even dare breathe, as i took baby steps along the path to the resort that I could see in the distance. I even took up prayer for those few minutes which seemed to last a lifetime. When the bowels are about to strike, I will believe in anything, if it helps. Thankfully the resort loomed and straight through the gate I could see the sign to the rest room, every step I was taking becoming riskier! But make it I did! Thankfully I always carry poo tickets with me, otherwise that would have been another traumatic event! Once the incident was over, I made my way back to the footpath and took a seat on a bench - my inner dialogue going something like this: "Can I make it back to my hotel? Damn, I want a ciggie. Probably not a good idea..." When my saviour pulled up on his trusty xe om and escorted me back to Barbara's where I spent a relatively carefree afternoon (just 2 more explosive bouts, but hey - thats travel innit?).
Quy Nhon was nice though. Relatively uneventful, I avoided the pagodas, took very few photos, just chilled out basically. And now here I am in Hoi An which must mean it is time for another blog entry....