I only spent a couple of days here last time. Funny how a place doesnt really appeal one moment in time, but come back a year and a half later, and u absolutely fall in love with it!
I was dropped off by the mini bus about 10 kms from town where the local xe om riders tried to extort a ridiculous sum of money out of me to get me into town. Luckily my staunch determination to drop the sum siginificantly alongside my staunch conviction that "I will walk into town" (Of course I wouldnt!) and I got the sum down from a ludicrous 200,000 dong to 50,000 dong. Still too much, but I couldnt be bothered arguing for another saving of 2 dollars.
The driver dropped me off at the Phuoc Anh hotel in town, a luxurious looking place (for me). Walked in to see the price on the wall for rooms, starting at 25 USD. I laughed at the man who was trying to coax me in and told him I couldnt afford it, so I would try elsewhere. As I grabbed my backpack he asked me what I would like to pay. I told him I usually only pay 6 dollars. Clearly this place was a little above my station, but the dude dropped the price to 12 dollars which includes a hotel with swimming pool, breakfast included, very fast internet and bicycles also included. How could I say no. I have been very happy to stay here, let me tell you. The bath is enormous, the bed and pillows are tres comfortable, breakfast is awesome and I have been taking advantage of the "free" bicycle hire.
This morning I headed for a return journey to My Son, the most significant remains of the Cham civilisation which exist in Vietnam. Pretty amazing but certainly no Angkor Watt! The promise of seeing them at sunrise did not occur because by the time we picked everyone up and made our way the sun was well into the sky (about 6.30)> One benefit though was that we saw the ruins whilst escaping the heat and the hordes of tourists, so definitely a bonus.
Since arriving here I have been exploring the old town which is beautiful and have headed out to the beach, which is even more beautiful than the one the lepers have in Quy Nhon! I plant myself under the coconut trees with a book and get waited on by the locals. I have attempted to read my book (now onto Irvine Welsh's Porno) but keep meeting Vietnamese people. This is because all the Westerners are determined to become lobsters in the midday sun of the white sandy beaches, whilst the Vietnamese prefer to keep their original color and so sit in the shade.
I spent one morning with Tham who, as it turns out, studied public health in Lismore (!) and wants to return to Melbourne and do nursing!! I suppose I could have talked him out of it, but I could see that - for him - it was a dream that encapsulated a better life and an escape from this one.
I have also spent a bit of time here with Marta and Ruben - a lovely Spanish couple (who I met in Da Lat and have since also bumped into in Nha Trang) - who are starting further travels around the world, having spent 9 months living and working in Australia! We enjoyed many meals and good conversation together and, as we are all heading North, have exchanged emails and will no doubt catch up again.
The food here is the best in Vietnam and possibly the cheapest. The service is unbelievable. Oh yeah, and the beer is only 3000 dong a glass (20 cents). So I am quite happy here, unsurprisingly. Am now going to grab a bike and head the 5kms to the beach, reacquaint myself with my lady server friends and see who else decides to pull up a pew next to me. Have a few beers and think about a night out, to see if I can manage to achieve a second hangover in 3 and a half weeks. Pitiful attempt on my part, but I have just been enjoying the chats and sipping 2 or 3 beers. Strange!