Ok, excuse the totally belated post….
Current tunes: George Ezra- “Budapest”
For those of you who don’t know, I work as an RN in a Trauma Intensive Care Unit. This means the bulk of my patients suffer injuries from hitting into something or vice versa, whether that be from a fall, a freak accident, or a crazy brawl (and let me tell you, the Fresno Knife and Gun Club is an active chapter that keep our unit busy). While I have only been a nurse for 22 months, I know that when the human skull and the road get into a fight, the road usually takes the cake. Therefore, when Mette and I decided that it would not be a true Vietnam adventure without renting a motorbike, I had to toss every scene and mental picture from the hospital out of my mind. I mean we call them “murder-cycles” at work for a reason! But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, let me back track to the last couple days where I got to be a beach bum living off mangoes and sunshine.
After Ho Chi Minh City, our first stop was Mui Ne (pronounced moo-eh neh). This little coastal town has a cozy feel about it and is huge on kite surfing. My travel buddy Mette is a pretty fantastic kite surfer and had been to Mui Ne before for a three week kite surfing holiday, which basically meant I had my own personal tour guide while staying there!
Although there were many resorts in the area, we opted for Mui Ne Backpackers, the only beach front hostel in town and we spent most of our time eating fresh fruit from the tiny mobile fruit ladies, soaking up the sun, and splashing in the waves. Mette is also a gym junkie and I love that she gets me to exercise while on holiday. In the late afternoon she convinced me to go for a run on the sand which turned out to be the most sweaty exercising experience of my entire life. Imagine running on a treadmill in a sauna…that’s what it’s like to take a jog in this country.
We rewarded ourselves with a one hour full body massage for a whopping $7 USD. (Did I mention I love the exchange rate in this country?!) I must say it was a bit awkward though. In the US, they usually bring you to an air conditioned private room, leave you alone to undress,and carefully knock after ten minutes to make sure you’re covered up and on the table. But for this massage we followed a lady to a dark and uncomfortably warm room. Then we were asked to strip down to nothing but our chonies. We paused for a moment so they could step out but they just stood there staring…so naked we became in front of two complete strangers (both women of course).
Next thing I know I’m on the table and the masseuse is standing on either side of me with her full weight pressing into my back, as she chit chats with Mette’s masseuse who is doing the same a few feet away. As weird as it was, I must say the quality of the massage was incredible. I felt like a million bucks after. Well a million oily sweaty bucks but I felt good nonetheless. We spent the rest of our evening at Joe’s, a pub next door to our hostel that boasted live music every night. Tonight’s guest was an older heavy set gentleman that sang covers and Vietnamese tunes. The bar is conveniently located next to our hostel so we chatted with other backpackers, sipped on Saigon lager, and played billiards with a a group of travelers from Holland before calling it a night.
The next day we hopped on another sleeper bus for a five hour ride to Nha Trang for about $10 USD. Nha Trang is known as Vietnam’s beach vacation hot spot, is flooded with tourists (especially Russians, not sure why), and consequently has a much more westernized feel to it. After five nights of staying in shared dorms with six other backpackers, we decided to treat ourselves to a four star resort. In American standards it was actually mediocre, but the service was more than fantastic and we got a deal for $45 a night with breakfast buffet so we enjoyed it. It was here that we decided we wanted to feel like locals in tourist central so we got the bright idea to rent a motorbike. I knew it was risky and every ounce of the nurse in me screamed, “Are you crazy?” At least in the States there are transportation laws and rules that people (mostly) follow. But in Vietnam the roadways are complete madness. Yet here I was, on the back of a Yamaha with a less than subpar helmet and clutching Mette’s waist with my knees so that I could snap photos while she swerved in and out of traffic. I’m telling you I don’t know where this side of me is coming from. I think there’s magic dust in all this pho that I have been eating that makes me feel invincible. I’ll admit that I didn’t really drive much. I just took it for a spin around the block a couple times because I value Mette’s life way too much and decided it was best to let her take the reigns on this one. We rented the bike for only $7 for 24 hours and spent less than $2 on gas!
We headed up and out of the city to Thap Ba Mud Bath Spa and Resort to experience the refreshing mineral pools and mud tubs. It’s an interesting process with steps that basically consisted of mineral water rinse, mud bath soak, sunbathing until the mud hardens on your skin, mineral rinse, hot mineral spring soak, and then a cool mineral water pool/waterfall lounging area at the end. I don’t know if it really did anything for my skin but I was like a kid in a candy store when we got to play in the mud. We shared our tub with two lovely Russian ladies and had a great time laughing and scrubbing in the mud since we really couldn’t communicate with them.
I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. It was like being a happy splashing baby elephant.
Until then, keep on wishin’,