Monday, July 03, 2006 06 Blog Home ~ Last year’s travel-blog ~ Photos from Photos from Previous thingy



This morning started off fine and sunny. We had a good breakfast; bit of everything, water melon juice…nice, despite Terrell’s misgivings and my terrible curry last night where the beef was as tough as leather. So we decided to walk to Mui Ne, a nearby fishing village. It was a decent walk, pretty hot and very rural. There was also this smell…not sure ...could have been the off shore fishing boats (very colourful, check out the photos), or some dead animal. Still, folks have ready smiles and we made it to the village. We took our first ride on the back of a little Honda scooter as the taxi ride back…one each: fun! The guys even rode along side one-another so we could chat. That’s it so far, Terrell’s taking a nap and I’m about to start another book. It’s raining buckets outside now, but still pretty hot.

The amazing thing about this large resort is that there seem to be hundreds of employees and few guests. Perhaps this is a quiet time of the year, but it’s hard to see how it can be viable. The facilities are pretty amazing, beautiful pool, stunning foyer, and huge grounds right to the beach.


So we ask at the front desk about taking a bit of a walk to the nearby town. Between two staff we all piece together enough words to believe that there is a small fishing town called Mui Ne though the staff with their four-point-two words of English seem doubtful or rather they portray doubtfulness in their body language as to why we would want to go to Mui Ne.


                                        Narda’s new bag

No worries. I had a picture of Rockport (Massachusetts) or Glenelg (South Australia) or some such quaint boaty type of space. We can see all the fishing boats in the bay from our balcony and we just assumed that the fishing village would be along the shore somewhere around the next bend or the next one after that, or even further up the road. I think one of the staff said it was 25 minutes away (surely he did not say 25 kilometers as I began to think when we were well on our way). We bought sun cream from our friendly lady at her little live-in deli across the road. She has a very lightly stocked store; a few cans of beer and soda, a shelf with a few boxes of cookies and chips and three shelves full of spirits (rum, vodka and the like). It is not really a pub as there is no place to sit down but I assume one could have a cocktail before motoring on down the highway or just purchase a large bottle of vodka and drink all the way to Phan Thiet.  She had a few handmade things on a rack and Narda picked up a great little bag for 50,000 dongs ($3.15).


After the first bend we came across the next resort, the Malibu Resort. It is older and probably a couple of stars down from where we are but we are not precious-stuffy-elitist so we wandered in. It was quite charming and we looked into one of the guestroom and it is surely adequate and we could comfortably stay there. We checked out the dinning room overlooking the sea and the prices were in dong and about half what they are where we are staying so we will give it a go for dinner tonight.


We wandered on down the road around a few more bends. We were definitely in the rural area (something customs will ask us when we get to Australia, ‘were you in any rural areas of Asia’) and the poverty is just like one would see in one of those documentaries on a third world country’s impoverished countryside. Families living in what would barely pass as a chicken shed in a western world. And of course the local chickens or turkeys or whatever the scrawny fowls are look like they have Asian flu though I am not quite sure what it would look like. The smell was quite bad in some places, perhaps some dead animal that did not quite make it to the dinner table.


To make a long morning’s walk description short we got to a road crossing and still no town and some dangerous looking characters pointed to the right so we wandered more. We came across what looked like a café and managed to convey that we wanted a soda and lots of people smiled and said ‘hello’. Soon we were in a town that looked like an American Wild West movie only the shops were selling mobile phones amongst I have no idea what. In the centre of town we must have looked like aliens. Narda has seen similar settings when she was in India but it was new for me. There was an extended moment where we managed to frighten ourselves when one of us questioned our safety. After all we are westerners in a very poor communist part of the world who were at war with Cambodia not long ago, and before that with the Yanks and their mates, then the French before that.  I was a bit concerned because I had our expensive digital camera in my pocket and my new T-Mobile MDA computer-video-camera-Microsoft_Mobile_Office and lots of other digital things (digital tracking too but not quite sure how to do it here in the Binh Thuan District) which I have become quite fond of in my pocket as well as lots of dongs and credit cards and here we are casually walking through town like John Wayne. We began to feel like easy pickings but I am sure we had no reason to. Most everyone smiled and said hello. We were just out of place big time. We were a tad bit lost and Narda’s feet were hurting from her thongs, which are more suitable for a sandy beach than pavement. We got stopped often and asked if we wanted a ride somewhere on a motor scooter. We looked about for a taxi but were informed ‘no taxi, motor scooter only’ (typing these words does not come close to portraying what those words sound like from a local). Narda wrote ‘Pandanus’ with borrowed pen and paper and soon we were motoring down the highway on the back of scooters. I drove a motor scooter forty years ago and Narda thirty years ago. I had never ridden on the back of one – and to do it on some country road in the backblocks of Viet Nam was unique. I had one short thought about being taken down one of those winding dusty roads amongst the sand dunes toward the sea and buried alongside the wife and our camera, wallet packed with dongs and groovy MDA computer-phone being traded for a new motor scooter but soon realized those are negative thoughts picked up from watching some foreign kung foo movie on television last night. After awhile it all became comfortable and Narda’s bike went alongside mine and we chatted away as we hurled down the road. In yesterday’s notes I pointed out that there do not seem to be traffic rules in this country and everyone just beeps at each other to get out of the way. For better or worse we got to our destination and gave the drivers an incredible 10000 dongs (actually that is 63-cents).


We bought noodles in a cup from our deli-lady and Narda went off to the dining room here at the resort to get forks. Because we are just about the only ones here she was warmly greeted by four waitresses at the restaurant because they assumed we would be eating, giving them something to do. Of course all we wanted was forks and to eat in our room our cheap meal. It is all quite strange. There are so many people working here – there are at least a dozen people wandering about working on the landscaping. We went for a swim in the massive pool because the sea looked a bit rough (and we are woosses). There were four staff in the pool area doing wonderful things like getting little leaves or bugs out of the pool, putting down umbrellas because the afternoon monsoon was heading our way, and sweeping the footpath alongside the pool. We were the only customers at the pool bar yesterday and today the guy just stood there all day wiping the counter and counting the bags of chips and I doubt there were any customers. We were the only pool users. I suppose we should feel something about resorts and the environment and all but we are having a restful lovely time. I would think these resorts give employment and money into the community where there is incredible poverty. Who knows? We will go to the neighboring resort for dinner as last night’s meal here was really quite budget. Tomorrow we will go into the major city in these parts (more than a million folks our guide book says) and I hopefully will find an Internet café to upload this stuff as the local computer does not have a USB port to put my flash card in and we do not have Internet in our room (that is our level of worry these days). Actually I figured out how to get this all on to their antique computer and on to my domain - oops sounds like bragging but if anyone ever is in need of a webpage developer here I am.


Oh by the way (I got a bit sidetracked in my story telling), Mui Ne is a bit inland and not along the coast like we would assume a fishing village to be. In any other place in the world the fishing village is along the sea but this is actually a few kilometers inland (we know, we walked it). I have no idea why that would be. They roll round basket like boats out to their fishing boats and leave them on shore when not in use. I assume they walk to Mui Ne or ride their motor scooters. I did not see any trucks carrying hauls of fish but then the whole fishing fleet has been in port for the two days we were here.


Basket boat used to go to fishing fleet

Narda and Terrell going off to catch dinner

Terrell goes to market with day’s catch of fish


Tuesday, 4 July, 2006

The American part of me says whoopee it is fourth of July but I doubt I will see much celebration here. We have not seen other Americans at this resort. We will stay at the resort I think today. Narda woke up a bit ill so the various Asian bugs may be getting to her or is it the Agent Orange residue from indiscretions past. I will get some of our video footage onto the web - like if anyone would care - My friend, Lisa, in Albany says she looks at our photos of travel and reads and one or two of Narda's sisters look at our stories and that is probably it. I think our sons wonder what we are doing wandering around these parts. Speaking of which - Viet Nam is a great travel place for backpackers. It is so cheap. We came across westerns that do the Sinh tours (see which are like about $26 US a day including hotel, travel all day to Cambodia and meals and they are quite comfortable. There were a lot of western backpackers in Ho Chi Minh City. Europe is just too expensive. For example our Hamburg, two-star hotel, shared toilet and shower was very cheap for Germany (especially during the World Cup) at $130 a day and this four-star exclusive resort with a large buffet breakfast included is $64 a day for a luxury room. Our Novatel hotel in Ho Chi Minh City - a very high standard - was even less whereas in Europe the same room would have been $250 or more. If Narda feels better later we may rent a motor scooter from the deli-lady across the street and go to the sand dunes. Some children down the street were trying to hustle us to rent their slides to go down the dunes. Narda said we were too old and in quite good English the boy said ‘you young you very beautiful’ so with lines like that maybe we will rent their slides and go down the dunes.