Good morning sunshine! After a subpar sleep (a bus bunk bed is incomparable to a bed, even when sleeping pills are involved) our lot groggily stumbled off the bus and started hunting for our Air B’n’B accommodation that we’d booked the week before. Being in a beachy tourist town we thought it might be worth splashing out for a party style penthouse, but when we found this place for $3.50 each per night, it was too much of a steal to refuse. And besides, it described itself as a brewery – who were we to say no?*
This place was far easier to locate than our prior Air B’n’B experience, and we arrived not long after 7.30am – thankfully they let us check in, but to our dismay, the power was out. So after fumbling around in the dark and taking a much needed (cold) shower, we headed out for breakfast to ‘Same Same But Different‘ – a saying that will never get old in Asia. Although the name was cliché, the food was perfectly fine, and not long after we found ourselves at the beach (6km long, they say it’s the most famous beach in Vietnam). The sand was plentiful, the water was warm – the gradient was steep and the waves were deceptively strong. If your exit from the water wasn’t tactically timed, the oncoming wave was bound to catch you and knock you over – it was definitely a challenge to look graceful whilst clambering out of this ocean! Our first beach time in a while, we unintentionally, but also inevitably, overstayed our welcome and received some pretty hefty sunburn in return.
That afternoon we made our home at Booze Cruise bar – although more expensive than we were used to, the food was on point (they understood that when I ordered an egg, it was intended for inside my burger, not just as a hard-boiled extra on the side), the jam-jar cocktails were divine, and to make my day there were live screenings of the Australian Open – finally, some tennis. Conveniently, it was finals time – so it wasn’t too hard convincing the others these matches were worth the watch (especially with Jimmy and Summer there, both being avid tennis fans). After drinking our way through the tennis we found some of our own sports to play (pool, foosball and slap-cup) against some German lads before heading home for a relatively early night.
The next morning James and I jogged out to explore the Hong Chong Promontory (granite rocks that ‘jut’ out into the South China Sea – not as impressive as it sounds), before downing an omelette and rushing back to get ready for our ‘cruise’ around some of the 71 islands that exist off the coast. A taxi picked us up and took us down to the wharf, where we met our crazy Vietnamese tour guide, who went by the name of Binh. The first island was a let-down; to get off the wharf you had to pay a fee to visit an aquarium – we weren’t there to look at fish through glass – we wanted to swim and party! James paid to enter, the rest of us just killed time on the wharf – taking photos and anxiously watching the sky becoming greyer by the minute. Thankfully the rain left us alone, and we were to endure another day of sunshine. The second island provided my first experience snorkelling – it was wicked! We also got to jump off the roof of the boat, and I took some pretty epic back-flip videos of the boys. By now everyone was pretty ravenous so we were excited to climb aboard and see the boats magical transformation into the Great Hall, where there were just plates and plates of food; a feast fit for kings. To escape the cleaning up Kels, Summer and I went onto the roof and caught some more sun; we came back down to find our boat had been hijacked by the local band who then instigated an afternoon full of singing, dancing and general hilarity. They identified all of the nationalities on board, making each group come up onto the makeshift stage and sing a song inspired by someone from their country. Despite being handed Bryan Adams and Summer of ’69, the Canadians, somewhat disbelievingly, didn’t know ANY of the words. The Kiwis were the finale (saving the best until last), whereby James and Cam performed a fantastic re-enactment of the New Zealand haka. They were outstanding – definitely the crowd favourite! Our last stop saw us pay 3000 Dong to enter a resort, where we all just claimed deckchairs, ate ice-cream and napped.
That night we stumbled across a street-food styled food court called Galangal for dinner (despite its size it still managed to be quaint) – the quail egg pastry was one of the best things I ate in Vietnam. This was followed up with an attempt to party – some more successfully than others; I was one of the worst, calling it in before the others had barely started. The next morning I went for an extremely long stroll along the beach before meeting the others for breakfast across the road from our hostel. It was an ironically terrible experience. When we arrived they were blasting “Gangnam Style”, followed by “I’ve Got A Hangover” – which did not sit well with the folks who had been out late the night before. We jinxed ourselves by asking for them to turn it down, because then there was a power cut and we had to wait an eternity for our meals; including me – as they had sold out of muesli. On the way out we spotted big tanks of animals that were barely alive (frogs, fish, sharks with no fins…) and we absolutely could not wait to get out of there.
We bartered with a taxi driver for a return trip to the 100 Egg Mud Bath – located about 20 minutes out of town. We decided on a group session – we were given free drinking water and bathing suits, and climbed into a medium sized bath, that was filling itself up with a warm and pleasantly thin mud. We immersed ourselves in the ooziness, massaging the goodness into our skin and lathering the mud onto our faces and necks – before Abby and James absolutely took the plunge and put their heads under. They resurfaced almost entirely unrecognisable. After we finished in the mud bath we had to rinse off in horizontal showers that sprayed water like bullets, and change bathing suits before we were allowed into the next lot of pools. Eventually we found the spa and stayed there for a bit, before getting changed to go and meet up with our taxi driver who had arrived to take us back into our accommodation. After packing up our belongings and grabbing some food, we headed off to climb aboard overnight bus number two – this time Hoi An bound.
* Our accommodation was in a prime location; it consisted of 8 bunk beds, with a massive dining table in the centre of the room, and a bathroom attached. It was rather dingy, as the only windows were internal so didn’t let in any real sunlight, however the owner was lovely – despite the small misunderstanding he had over how Air B’n’B worked (he thought that the $3.50 each we’d paid was just a deposit and tried to present us with a bill later – we had to calmly explain that wasn’t the way Air B’n’B functioned and that we would refuse to pay) and he looked after us wherever he could.