A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Khandilee

Better Days!

Arrived in Mue Ne and thoughts on Vietnam

overcast 86 °F
View My Exploration of Vietnam on Khandilee's travel map.

Arriving to Mui Ne via bus wasn't the horrible experience that I could have imagined. The ride was smooth (actually not, but I managed to sleep through most of it). We stopped about half-way for a break and I headed to the bathroom while Kim and Mike got some snacks. We ended up all trying some sort of pork wrapped in dough with tiny little eggs inside. It was an interesting flavor, I'll admit. None of us ended up eating them. I am terrified of eggs...but that's another story. We opted on the chips and peanut brittle instead.

Dinner at the hotel was ok, but I'll remember next time not to get the pork. It was pretty difficult to chew, but otherwise a decent meal. I was able to satisfy my craving for RICE, and Mike indulged with me. We shared a couple of beers and off to bed for me. I think that the jet-lag caught up with me. I slept nearly the entire 4-5hr bus ride then to bed early and here I am awake at 0700.

The coffee here is amazing! I bought myself some grounds and a coffee-maker (dont worry, it isn't near as large as my Cuisinart at home! It will actually fit into my backpack! I only need to find a way to make hot water and I will be in heaven with my own coffee in my room!

There is supposed to be wireless access here at the hotel restaurant, but the signal is so low this morning that I am typing this and going to post it later. Hopefully I wont lose this one.

So far, the beach is much more peaceful than Saigon. I was happy to see Saigon behind me as we drove out of town. I don't know that I am looking forward to returning on the end of my trip. It's my understanding that Hanoi is much the same as Saigon, but I will overlook that in anticipation of Halong Bay.

I'm not sure how long I will stay here at Mui Ne . Long enough for sure to see Kim and Mike do some kite-boarding! Kim seems a little worried that the month away will cause here to have lost all her new-found skill but I am confident that she will do fine. I'm really looking forward to watching them up close!

It's overcast here in Mui ne this morning. But the air is a little cooler and no rain...yet. When I woke this morning, I walked out on the balcony and the water is beautiful. The China Sea...I think? The fishing boats are all over and not surprisingly, it looks exactly like the many pictures that I saw when planning my trip. I took a few quick shots from the balcony but hope to get to the fishing village and get some close-up interactions with the local fishermen.

Just a few thoughts that I have noticed so far about the culture here:

There is a lot of sitting around! Everywhere you look, there are people (men in the majority), sitting around drinking coffee/tea/beer on these little plastic garden chairs. You know, the kind that you buy at Wal-Mart. Only, they use the kids chairs instead of the full size ones!
There is a lot of Sweeping going on. You can look far and you will find some Vietnamese woman or girl with a broom in her hand sweeping the steps, the sidewalk, or the road! It's a constant thing.
Uniforms. It would seem that every place of business has a dress code of sorts. Usually simply a shirt of the same color. While walking around Saigon, I noticed that the nail/hair salons have quite an interesting dress code that I am sure the men in America would enjoy. Tight skimpy shorts and top or short, tight dresses. I didn't get any pictures. (sorry Dad).
Moto-bikes, moto-bikes, and more moto-bikes!! Enough said...
Work ethic. It seems that although life is laid-back, there is a lot of work going on. Everyone seems to know what their job is and they appear to take it seriously. People seem content at working. I don't see the unhappiness that I find in America. Everyone seems to know the job that they need to do and go about it with a good attitude. And although I noted earlier that there is a lot of sitting around, there is also a lot of hard work going on.
Smoking. Being a smoker, I have of course noticed the smoking culture. It appears that most (if not all) of the men smoke. I have not yet seen one Vietnamese woman smoking. Smoking is allowed everywhere.

The last thing that I will comment on is the attitude toward women (so far). I have found that the Vietnamese men seem to have a much different attitude toward women than American men. I don't see men leering at the women, no matter how beautiful. The amount of respect toward women seems great. Although I will note that it seems that the women do all of the domestic chores and the men seem to have a lot more leisure time than the women. The dating/courting would seem to be quite different also. I have seen many couples siting idely at the park on benches enjoying time together. Simply sitting close, holding hands and enjoying each others company. It's very sweet to see.

I am going to leave you now and enjoy my iced Vietnamese coffee....life is good!

Posted by Khandilee 17:29 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Jet Lag?

....menopausal or just bitchy?

overcast 89 °F

First of all, I have two previous entries that I have somehow lost...

I dont know what it is about today. The weather is nice, actually hot and I have actually enjoyed quite a bit of the city today. Every time I turn around today, I am nearly in tears. From the start of the day and trying to find someone to re-charge my cell phone to the end of the day and my travel pillow being lost. In between, there has been a myriad of things that have simply pissed me off. I hope that all of my trip is not this way or I am likely to spend it in a nice hotel room somewhere with my head buried in a book!

Let me share my day with you....

I woke up around 4am and couldn't fall back to sleep. Considered taking a sleeping pill but didn't want to waste away the entire day sleeping, so stayed awake and finally got out of the hotel around 9am.

My first mission of the day was to re-charge my cell phone. I tried to call Trinity this morning (finally got a time when I thought we would both be awake) and found that I was out of minutes. Was quite disappointed, really wanted to talk to her today.

I walked who knows how far and went to at least 5 different phone shops and no one could help me. Finally, I broke down and called 'Ha', my moto-driver from yesterday. I had hoped to avoid hiring him again today because I felt like he over-charged me yesterday. So, Ha was able to help me find another cell phone store and we were able to successfully load money onto my phone. The men asked me how much I wanted to put on (they told me 10, 20 or 40) and I told them $40 usd. When they were done, they told me that they needed $10 more!! They had me listen to the message stating how much $$ was on my account but it was in dong and I had no idea....I was pissed and gave them another $10. Had Ha take me to the 'end' of the walking tour from my Lonely Planet book and drop me off. He was quite disappointed that I didn't want him to wait for me. I paid him for his time and told him thank you. I find that it is very difficult for me to tell the people here 'NO' when I know that I should. I don't have a problem with it at home but for whatever reason, I find it difficult here. I guess part of it is that I don't want to give a bad impression of people from the US.

As well as needing to re-charge my phone I also needed to get some cash changed. Before I called 'Ha' and as I was searching out a place to charge my phone, I all the while was also looking for a jewelry store in order to exchange some cash. In Vietnam (I can only speak for Saigon right now), the moto-bikes and cyclo's are all over the place and they hassle you every minute of the day to take a ride. They will all say 'hello' and as soon as you respond, they will hassle you for a ride. I was so sick and tired of this....two options 1. be friendly and say hello, only to be hassled for the next 20 minutes or 2. be rude and stick up your nose and ignore them. I choose the former and therefore was hassled a LOT!! Finally, I broke down and got a cyclo and asked him to take me to the closest jewelry store to exchange some cash. I asked him how much this would cost and he informed me that 100,000 dong (about $7) First, this is way too much for what should have been a 5-10 min trip and second, he proceeded to cart me to some silly pagoda. It is difficult to not be rude but I just wanted to go and get some cash....so, at the pagoda of course...they want more of my money!! Told them that they needed to get it from my driver I didn't ask to come here.

Oh!! The pagoda from this morning...almost forgot! They let me walk right in and I looked around and on my way out they wanted $200,000 dong I was pissed!! Of course, I hadn't exchanged any money yet and so I tried to pay them with usd (didn't feel right not paying) So, they wanted to give me 50,000 dong back from a $20 usd!! btw $20 usd is about 320,000 dong. I just shook my head and told them more...finally got $100,000 out of them but still they screwed me! Guess I have 'sucker' written on my face today...

So, my 5-10 minute trip to the jewelry store ended up taking nearly an hour. After I exchanged my cash, I went to the cyclo driver and gave him his $100,000 dong. Told him thank you and started walking. He yells at me....$200!! I wanted to tell him to f**k off, but instead I simply reminded him that we agreed on $100 and walked away.

My lunch excursion today was just as much of a hassle....first, I wanted rice and asked for rice and pointed to a place with RICE!! What did I get....frekin NOODLES!! I didn't want noodles....I wanted rice! Tried to get it fixed but it wasn't going to happen, so I ate it....or some of it. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't rice either!! Then I went to pay and guess what....the price changed from what was written on the menu board hanging above the counter. The sign said clearly 20 and the lady asked for 32!! Granted, this is actually only about $0.75 difference in usd but it still pissed me off.

In spite of all of this, i was able to see a good part of the city (and I have the blisters to prove it). Although quite ugly in most places, there are a few oasises of beauty. I did take some pictures today so I will try to get some posted soon.

Mike and Kim made it in last night and it was such a relief to see them. They let me babble and complain and share my day as we drank a few beer. I am looking forward to heading to Mui Ne today and hopefully a little quieter area.

More soon....

ps Hopefully I will find the two previous posts and get them online.

Posted by Khandilee 06:20 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Doing ok...

Just wanted to put a quick note in to say that I am doing ok. I have a couple of blogs written that I cant get onto here right now but promise that I will update them soon.
Candy T, RN

Posted by Khandilee 01:45 Comments (0)

Packing my last most used possesion....

yes, the Cuisinart Coffee Maker!

Ok, so I know that this is lame! In my defense, I LOVE my coffee.... I am packing my truck for storage today and my Cuisinart is one of the last few items that hasn't yet made it into a box, tote or bag. I feel like I should write an 'ode to the coffee maker or something. I am really going to miss my fresh ground coffee for the next 4 Days, 8 Hours, 17 min..... Yes, that's when the flight from Seattle to Saigon (HCMC) leaves.

Time has crept up on me and although I am physically ready to go, I am still not sure that I am mentally prepared for the trip ahead of me. I am not sure what I expect out of this trip other than to open my eyes to how our lives here in the US are so very different from those in Vietnam. I have read other people's blogs during nearly every free moment that I have found over the past several months while planning this trip and I am no closer now to knowing what I want to see, do, experience than I was at the very start. People keep asking me 'why', and 'where' and I really still don't know the answer to those questions. I am hoping that I'll find the answers as my trip progresses. It is quite possible that I will discover the answers after I have returned.

Sleep seems to be evading me lately, tossing and turning when I should be sleeping. My mind constantly going over the 'to do' list that keeps dwindling day by day. Then the constant questions like, 'did I pack the right things' or 'will Aco (my dog) be ok' and the ever pressing 'will I be ok' .

Posted by Khandilee 05:22 Tagged preparation Comments (2)

Wrong Line....Again!

The Wrong Line

Anyone that has ever gone to the grocery, McDonalds, Library, or anywhere that you have to stand in a line will know that I ALWAYS pick the wrong line.....without fail. Today was no different!

I arrived at SEA airport with way too much time on my hands. Something about feeling like I always need to be early put me at the airport at the crack of dawn today. I enjoyed a nice Starbucks breakfast of oatmeal (yummy) and have now consumed two venti cups of coffee. During breakfast I chatted with a young man curious about my Eee PC.

Arriving at my gate, there was a long line at the desk and a pretty full seating area. I stepped into the line to ask if they were looking for volunteers to take a later flight. I finally got to the desk shortly after an announcement asking for volunteers! Yeah....my lucky day. I have tried this on numerous occasions and have never actually gotten 'bumped'. Since I dont have anywhere that I have to be by any certain time (except to Mom's for dinner), I figured that today was the day.

Arriving at the counter, I got the most inexperienced attendant that I ever could have gotten She got me 'off-loaded' from my flight and was having all sorts of trouble getting me booked onto the next flight. The other attendant at the counter checked through THREE people and I am still standing there waiting for this lady to get me onto a flight. I really didn't care WHICH flight at this time....just book me on a flight before they are ALL sold out! I am thinking the whole time that although I dont mind taking a later flight, I certainly dont want to spend ALL DAY at the airport...

So, I am finally sitting at my new gate....waiting to board with a FREE ROUNDTRIP ticket in my hot little hands!!!! YEAH....

Maybe I will get lucky on my flight home too....

General observations:

A mom with TOO many kids (there are four of them, all boys. They have sat quietly the whole time I have been typing)
One other person on laptop
2 People eating
3 on cell phone
4 reading the paper
5 staring at nothing in particular
8 staring at the idiot box (that would be the TV)

Flight is getting ready to board and I need to go to the bathroom....update you soon.

Posted by Khandilee 00:30 Comments (1)

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