We Are All Brothers

We had a hard time finding dinner on our first night in Nha-Trang since the area where we stayed was a bit desolate, but after walking around we found a busy place that served good phở. After we ate we saw a woman who sold those yummy dumplings with the meat and quail eggs like the ones we ate sometimes in the North, but they had a slightly different flavour which I didn’t really like. Eventually we found a place in an alley that 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, and since we weren’t hungry anymore we decided to 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 wrapped in a white cloth that hadn’t been washed in months, and on the side there were leftovers from a wedding that took place there god-knows-when. We had coffee outside and went to the beach, the one with only pale tourists, and after a long stay there we came back to the hotel for a brief shower and then back outside to look for food. Everything was beginning to close for the noon but we found a place that seemed open and two mama’s 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. We bought some clothes at a small market on the street and had more coffee, went to the beach again by sunset and watched as the sky darkened, and by evening we came back to the place where we had beer the night before. The menu was in Vietnamese only 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, and aside from some fried meats we also got 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 generally 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) and I remembered that there really were many power outrages 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, and he said they are his brothers and invited us to sit with them. As we sat he explained that sometimes very close friends define themselves as brothers, and that they know each other since school and now they are 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, and said that the only thing he knows about Israel is that people used to blow themselves up in public places as a terror 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 at the city, a bustling area with a long boardwalk, busy roads, street-food, people. We booked the night before a small humble 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, reading and swimming.

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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 a main street with many mobile-phone shops. When we entered a big store all the employees stood in a 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, some sort of a crispy pancake made of rice and filled with shrimps, sprouts and greens. 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, and 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 ice. When the rain stopped we strolled on the boardwalk, and went to bed since we had wo get up early the next day.

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