Little Sand Houses

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

We went back to the hotel for a moment to change clothes, and then 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 there 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 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. We sat at one of the small places around that you can find everywhere in this area – places that work kinda like a cafeteria, you just sit and get a plate of whatever they have today. They served plates of rice with two shrimps, fried egg, tofu, two slices of beef, quail egg and some fried pork with the bone. Those places were my favorite, since the food was very comforting and fulling. We kept walking around but 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. At first we went to a distant beach and when we saw it was similar to the closer one we came back there. 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. Afterwards we got the rice, which we dipped in the sauces. The food was great 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 toys for the kids and fruits. 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 a cage with a grey fat bird that stood on a small swing and napped. Afterwards we went to find a place to have some beer at. We sat at a small half empty place near the hotel, where 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. Afterwards we walked quickly to the hotel since I had to pee thanks to all the beer 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 through Trip Advisor. 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 was a bit complicated to get to the city center, and we’ve felt as if we are missing something. Eventually we went to bed and decided to decide in the morning.

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At night I dreamt again that I’m going back to my old job, just to help them out through the holidays, I dream I still have once in a while.

We got up early and had meat soup and fried egg at the hotel, while a big Indian family sat next to us, a mother with a cute daughter and two other women with too many children. We came back to the room to book a hotel in Hội An – eventually we chose one in the center, and then went to look at the blue sea that shimmered in the sun, with small fisher boats here and there. Afterwards we went to have a drink at the sunny streets next to the hotel, and when we didn’t find anything we came back to the boardwalk and had 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, which was good since it helped me avoid snacking. As I wore my swimsuit at the hotel I checked myself in the mirror and saw I’ve put on some weight, so I tried to pay attention to what I’m eating. We went to have a light lunch where we met the two Americans in 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, and at first we thought she’s laughing because she’s not used to seeing blond people, 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, but I put an alarm clock because I didn’t want to sleep all day. 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. We went to a small groceries store and bought some small boxes for the teabags we bought earlier, and got back to the room to change to swimsuits. We arrived at the beach 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, and once in a while the music stops for a recorded message of list of safety rules recited by a woman with a sweet voice. I used the sun to try to get an even tan, because I’ve always had funny tan marks on my shoulders from different clothes I wore, and 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. After dinner we went to have beer by the beach. There were two kids on double bicycles that shone with many lights and played strident music, and when they fell of it made the people sitting at the table next to us laugh. Afterwards 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. That night we watched Tammy, a funny movie from 2014 with  Melissa Mccarthy and Susan Sarandon, and afterwards Back to the Future 2 was featured. We fell asleep slowly with the TV.

 

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