Back to paradise...

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Aug 01, 2013

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What I did
monkey mountain

Flag of Vietnam  , Bình Ðịnh,
Sunday, February 3, 2013

ahhh... this was my favourite place from last year, a beautiful place on the coast with one of the best beaches in Vietnam... its non touristy as there's nothing to do or see particularly or any western style bars but maybe that just adds to the beauty of the place and why so many people are genuine and friendly here... last year i only stayed a day but this would certainly be a place i could see myself coming back to and teaching so i planned to visit a couple of schools but when i tried they had all broke up for new year. Its lunar new year here which is HUGE here.... its celebrated officially for 3 or 4 days but in actual fact it goes on about a month. Despite the setback i decided to spend a couple of days here as, like the last time i was here, i stayed at Barbara's Backpacker hostel and took the dorm which had no one else staying so i had a cheap room all to myself....

Part of being by the beach is being able to go for a run or a swim whenever you want and i managed a couple of times and wasn't surprised when i saw as many people as i did on the beach or exercising in the park when i got up for a sunrise sesh. I took a few photo's and a video and im currently trying to upload the video buts its a minute long and a huge file size so may not upload.... ill have to change the video setting on the camera to keep the sizes down...

The drive down was nice, again through the mountains and small villages and the next route out is to Tuy Hoa, a new place the guy i bought the motorbike told me about... well, he told me the drive there was good but i was taking a different route and then leaving by the route he suggested. On the map Tuy Hoa looked about the same size as Qui Nhon and again on the coast but although i was able to take an inland small route i still had to endure Highway 1 for about 25miles..!!

A few things i learned about Lunar New Year here is that on day one you spend it with family, day two with friends and on day three you visit, pay respects and give gifts to your or your family's teachers!! Great, so if i teach here i'll have a day bigger than any birthday or xmas day!! One thing that is huge and seems everyone must buy either to display in their houses or give as gifts is flowers and/or bonzai type trees.... every village i drive through has a mass mania centred around flower sellers, especially these huge bright yellow flowers called 'cuc' that seem the main flower of choice but the towns themselves, well their councils, buy loads too and every town and village has a main street lined with them and Vietnamese flags.... and one thing that certainly not in short supply is beer!! All you hear everywhere is "Mawt, hai, ba, Yo!! 1,2,3 Cheers!! There's been loads of time you see groups of guys either just sat under the shade of trees, at local eateries or cafes and sat in a  circle with a crate of beers and usually playing cards and sometimes they invite me over but i don't always go because its not always easy so leave and can be draining after a while sometimes!

Speaking of drinks i think i mentioned the local draught they have around Vietnam, they had it Hanoi and it seems they sell the Hanoi stuff down here too... the cheapest i have seen is 5000 VND, now 33,000 VND is 1 pound so whats that, about 15p for a half pint?! Amazing eh! Well i think i kinda beat that the other day, i took a trip north of Saigon for a couple of days and was tired from the trip so decided to take a break in one of those many hammock rest stops i mentioned and took a photo of... love em, there's always at least three or four guys just sparko in a hammock and even i had a kip the other week in one..! But anyway, i've managed to stay away from the highly addictive yet pure delightful coffee here and switched to green tea, specifically iced green tea. Now tea is in abundance here so you can imagine its pretty cheap... how cheap i here you ask??? Well when you eat in food places its usually free but when i stopped at this hammock place and bought one and got up to pay i asked how much and  she said 1000 VND...! their lowest denomination is 500VND!! So that lovely ice tea and hammock rest cost me about 3p!! You know, i think i took a photo somewhere else too of a coffee order, now i order hot coffee with milk but the milk is super sweet condensed milk which sits at the bottom of the glass and you mix it in. You don't get much coffee, only about 20ml in a small glass but thats because its like rocket fuel, especially for me because as where the locals sit and casually sup it, i am used to our UK portion sizes, and those Starbucks or Costa cups!! So i tend to have 2 or 3 and so you can see why i decided to quit them for a while to stop the addiction!! But anyway, when you order a coffee, you get the coffee, a glass of hot or cold water to rinse after and rid of the coffee stains but you also get a pot of green tea, with about 5 or 6 cups worth in and the average cost for this is 10,000 VND, only about 30p!!

OK, so other bargains: Banh Mi Kep's... ahh, i fell in love with these last year, Banh Mi Kep means sandwich and they are awesome... in a nice crispy fresh baguette and the general filling is pate, mayonnaise, shredded veg, tomato, cucumber, chilli's and if you want, optional extras are cream cheese, tinned fish, usually mackerel or a particular favourite of mine, 2 fried eggs!! All for the princely sum of 10,000 VND too! 30p!! (i fancy one right now just talking about them!)

Fruit is a little expensive here though i don't know why, i mean a watermelon costs you about 4 or 5 quid! But i found these great little Vietnamese apples about the size of a gold ball and a bit sour tasting, like a granny smith but so cheap, a bag of about 12 cost me 4000VND in the supermarket in Qui Nhon, that's like 12p..... mandarins aren't too bad, about 60p for half a kilo where you get about 7 or 8.... there's lots of other options but not particularly easy to consume when on the move.

Laundry can be pretty cheap if you find a place that does it by weight and not item. Many places charge per item, averaging about 50p an item but its a strange system because one sock costs the same as a shirt?! But yesterday in saigon i found a proper laundry place with machines because my motorbiking jeans need a good clean which would take me ages to do myself plus i've put rips in the 2 pairs i use to act as air vents and, well to look cool too!! and machine washes help develop the frayed bits look even better,anyway...! i washed my normal jeans too and a white t shirt i foolishly wore for a motorbike trip which was now brown and it weighed in at just under 2kg (0.5kg probably dirt), and i checked the price and for a non urgent 2 day service it was 20,000 ND, so about 60p....

OK, a few other examples before i finish: Large bottle water 20p, small water 10p, chewing gum 5p, standard soup meal 60p, a chocolate bar (imported) 1 quid, a beer in a bar 1 quid, a short taxi ride or moto ride 60p, a hotel room 5 quid, can of coke 20p, a litre of fuel 70p....

So yeah,you can see in general things are pretty god damn cheap here.....anyway, i'll type up the Tuy Hoa blog when i can.... until then love to you all...x 

PS. i just noticed the photo's i have in this blog and i've done anew google map that shows the new revised route from here inwards, in particular the southern mekong delta area i plan to drive around all of!
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Carrie McKenzie on

I think you are becoming the Jamie Oliver of Vietnam! you certainly know the cuisine well now, and can't believe how cheap it all is. Trust you to be working out the cost of laundering a sock! Think of all the money you're saving on food and invest in the wash tub haha. Sounds idyllic, swinging in a hammock and supping green tea and beer ...... enjoy! Lotsa and lotsa love and hugs xxxxxx

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