After biking around Hoi An for a few days, we realized that it was nearly mid-January and we still hadn’t seen much of the sun since the day after Christmas. It was getting warmer as we traveled down the coast of Vietnam, but the skies were continually dark and the waves were rough. Probably to be expected since it was typhoon season in that part of the country. Nothing to do about it but keep on moving south.
Since we enjoyed being one of only a few Westerners that we saw back in Da Nang (one day we counted only five) and since we liked the atmosphere that those types of cities bring, we looked for a city on the coast that had good beaches but was smaller than Da Nang. Quy Nhon looked about right, so we bought our bus tickets.
Here’s what Quy Nhon’s beach looked like on the Saturday afternoon that we arrived.
Sunbathing isn’t exactly a national pastime here.
Just like the rest of the beaches we had seen in the past week, the water was too rough to swim. But that was just fine because we now had blue skies and THE SUN.
One evening while walking along the beach, we had a very nice (if lengthy) conversation with a local man who wanted to practice his English with us. Every question had the same formal preface.
“Excuse me, can you please tell me about education in your country?”
“Excuse me, can you please tell me about the economy in your country?”
“Excuse me, can you please tell me about guns in your country? Many people have been shot?”
Whoa. Those were some pretty broad and deep questions, but we worked our way through them to the best of our abilities.
Besides enjoying what was essentially our own private beach, we entertained ourselves in the evenings by walking through a night market. Western Christmas carols blared on the sound system and there were some mini carnival rides for little kids. Tony looked for a new pair of flip flops, but if you’re over size 42 (U.S. size 8.5), you are out of luck.
One day, we rented a moped from our guesthouse and drove it out to see some partially restored 11th and 12th century Cham towers. Two towers were in town and the others were about 10 miles away.
The groundskeeper called out to us and asked for 20,000 dong. Despite the official-looking ID hanging from his neck, we were skeptical, but he produced a booklet of tickets. We noticed that the price printed on them was only 7,000 dong and he reluctantly accepted that amount instead. Although he was being dishonest, we later felt badly that we had not simply paid what was the equivalent of an extra $1.20. He probably needed it much more than we did. Sometimes the right thing to do isn’t clear.
From our vantage point on top of the hill, we spotted what looked like an interesting pagoda nearby and decided to check it out. We never figured out its name, but it looked like it was either under renovation or its construction had begun and stopped a few decades ago and is only now starting up again.
We started to wonder where we should go next. South, obviously, but how far? Our guesthouse had a binder full of local information and something interesting caught our eye…