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The Adventurer’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 10 Mar 2007

Location: Thon Hoa (Sam Son Beach), Vietnam

MapWell, it was an interesting day full of unexpected events. I hopped on a bus that dropped us off at the ferry back to the mainland. Arrived in Haiphong, and went to the bus station where I would catch a bus to a town called Ninh Binh--this is where I'd hop on the train. But, lo and behold, at the bus station, I ran into the people I'd met on the bus on the way to Sapa, the Portugese guy Armando and his Chinese girlfriend, Jane. Funny how you meet people who turn out to be really cool and then leave them thinking you'll never see them again, and then it's kind of a relief/comfort seeing a familiar face again running into them. I decided to hang out with them for the night. They were going to stay in Ninh Binh a few days, so we got off the bus and were immediately accosted by a bunch of hotel employees, motor taxis offering accomodations and tours. We couldn't make any decisions with these people hounding us, so we walked off. Stopped at a small cafe for some fried rice and veggies to make the decision. One hotel manager followed us and waited until we were finished. Armando and Jane had wanted to go to a National Park, but discovered there were no minibuses or anything going out there, so they decided to hop on the train, as did I, to the disappointment of the hotel manager.

I decided to check out the price and stuff to the city of Danang, about halfway down the coast of Vietnam. Only hard seat was availabe for the 14 some odd hour journey. I decided to take a 2 hour jaunt on hard seat to another city called Thon Hoa. Armando and Jane were going there too. Glad I chose not to go all the way to Danang on hard seat, which consist of wooden seats (yep, I'd say that's a hard seat). The scenery was absolutely amazing along the way though, and my eyes were glued to the scenery. You have lush green flora and lush green rice paddies everywhere with the women in their conical hats working in the fields. Then you get to a town where the railway runs through pretty much the backyards of peoples homes. You could see children playing, people working in their yards, some relaxing. It was a nice sight to see and really gives you a glimpse into daily life of Vietnamese people, though I'm not sure I'd enjoy the sound of a train running through my backyard a few times a day everyday (Ok, mom and dad's house comes close, but there's still a good distance to the tracks--we just had the loud horns to contend with). This kind of scene, however, seems to be common in SE Asia as I saw it in Bangkok, the rest of Thailand, and in Malaysia when I was there.

We arrived in Thon Hoa, and a xe om immediately offered us a ride. We negotiated a bit, and finally took it. We were off to Sam Son beach about 12 kms. away. Armando and Jean were seated in this 2 seater carriage attached to the front and I on the back with the driver. It was now dark out, and it was cool with drizzle--a Fantastic ride to Sam Son beach! Felt great. The moto dropped us off at a hotel that he clearly managed. It was clear to us that this was not a touristy town and we were the only tourists there. We knew we'd be able to negotiate a good rate for our hotel room. So after a few hotels, we finally decided on one with a room overlooking the ocean. It was a big room, and I've been in better, but still nice. I was looking forward to falling asleep with the sound of the waves crashing into the beach that night.

After checking in, it was off to find some good eats. This was somewhat of a challenge. It was kind of eerie with no tourists, and their wasn't much action in the streets. But we did find a street with a bunch of restaurants. The thing is, they ALL had the same menu. How's that for variety?! Not only that, but they didn't speak any English here, so we had a hard time commuicating what we wanted. We finally picked a restaurant and thought we'd communicated fried rice with vegetables, but got this rice porridge (insert memories of food poisoning here when I lived on rice porridge for awhile). It was not bad, but Jane went and ordered fried rice from the restaurant across the street, and they brought it over for us! I've never been to any other place where you could eat from 2 different restaurants at once, do you??

After leaving our gracious and patient hosts, we headed to the beach. It felt so good to be there with no one else but us, the weather was warm with a cool breeze. We walked up some rocks and looked out into the black ocean abyss with no stars or a moon in the sky. It was a great to see and hear the waves crashing against the rocks. We found this old building that we think was used as a watchtower during the Vietnam war, though we're not too sure.

It was back to the hotel after that to drift off into dreamland listening to the waves outside...