Usual Hunting Ground

market haul
Clockwise from top left: avocado ( 20k ), cucumbers ( ~5k ), 10 duck eggs ( 28k ), puto rice cakes ( 8k ), homemade pork luncheon ( 22k ), tomato 3k. ABSENT – 2 x coconuts : 18k.

Back in the usual Van Kiep, Nha Trang, hunting ground, I stocked up a little for the last week here.

The above haul at the local market, 3 minutes’ walk away, cost 100.000 ( Vietnamese use periods [‘.’] for thousands rather than commas [,] ) dong, or about NZD 6.70.

I could live on this –  if variety were no issue – for a couple of days.

Power Cuts

In totally unrelated news, and no doubt as a personal ‘welcome home’ from the city Government, just for me, there is no power in the neighbourhood today. All day, til 5pm. Ulp.

This happens regularly, under the label of ‘maintenance’, and suburbs around the city take it in turns.

The usual time is 4 – 6 hours, but today’s outage will be especially challenging for the lack of air-conditioning in the heat after the respite of the cool of DaLat.

Three Nights in DaLat

DaLat is in Vietnam, but in some ways, it’s another country.

Most obviously,the climate is in total contrast with the other parts I’ve visited. A morning walk requires a layer,and two for good measure, against the chill. In Nha Trạng, the popular Old Man uniform – a plain flimsy white singlet – is more than enough.

Descent toward the light

DaLat is at altitude, 1500m above sea level, a fact which was obvious on today’s descent to Nha Trang.

The bus ( a luxury 9-seater, trip NZD 11) emerges after midday out of the high dark mist of DaLat toward the bright, clear heat of NhaTrang, like a shuttle-full of winged beings from a Renaissance painting.

Within an hour, we’ve gone from the chill plateau of Dalat to the intense heat of Nha Trang. In that, sitting outside under shade for the 15-minute rest break is murderous. The difference is a major.

Vege Basket

A lot of the ‘fresh’ produce on shevles – maybe not roadside stalls – throughout central Vietnam comes from DaLat. Coming into the city from the East ( seaward, from Nha Trang ) there are hectares upon hectares of strawberries, for example.

French Influence

The city, as far as my once-over-lightly research goes, was built by French colonists, as an escape hutch from the heat of the rest of Vietnam.

The only obvious signs of this are at least one petit Eiffel Tower.

I hoped to find a wider variety of cheeses on offer, but I spent most of my time there motorcycling aimlessly around the city, instead of shopping.

Traffic

From my very brief experience, not so bad as Nha Trang, or Da Nang, and made more bearable because there’s no accompanying intense heat.

The city has not one set of traffic lights, instead it’s roundabouts everywhere. So, very easy to navigate from one to another, weaving a thread between each cotton reel roundabout.

Eating

In an enforced experiment, I ate out twice a day, for lunch and dinner. It’s very easy to buy a solid meal for VND 30.000 ( NZD 2 ). That’s a decent serving of meat, a fresh salad ( mostly cabbage ), and a small pho ( soup ).

Of course, over three days I was very limited in what I was able to sample. But of two small sit-down restaurants ( 5 – 10 tables ) I visited, one cooked its meat to perfection, while the other served dry, overcooked fare ( but good salad ).

Videos ( 6)

These should play in sequence, press play once.

Verdict

This is a city I could live in, ideally during the hottest part of the year. I’d  happily forego being ocean-side in favour of comfort heat-wise.

This is a city I want to go back to.

Cool Chaos in Dalat

I made my way to Dalat, with its fine crisp mountain air, and then things went all Fawlty Towers on me. Again.

The taxi driver couldn’t find the hotel. Neither could I, after my phone, which I’d wisely topped up, packed a sad.

After we found the hotel, it was a little more than cupboard. Only two or three power points, all in the most awkward places possible. No lift. No fridge. No TV. No balcony.

I discovered I’d left the laptop charger in Na Trang. The rental bike had about 2km worth of gas innit. I was hungry enough to kill a careless seagull. And I didn’t want to spend the night in the cubby-hole I’d booked.

It was a conundrum.

While I was riding around trying to avoid getting lost, there was a strange sensation. In my thin white collared shirt, I was … cold! For the first time in South-East Asia. Aaaah.

But you’ll sleep soundly, I’m sure, when you hear that I managed to sort all of those issues. And I’m now about to collapse in the Nang Chieu Hotel – about 200m from the original hotel – which is the red marker above.

Kids’ Party

If I were C Montgomery Burns the hounds would be satisfied and licking their chops about now.
For a new trend is lowering the neighborhood tone, you know.
The local bratpack have started swarming in the street at 7pm and thereabouts.
I don’t really mind, though. It’s short-lived , and is the healthy sound of souls enjoying company. So unlike the dogs, the noise doesn’t jangle the nerves.
And barring disaster I’ll be back in peaceful ( dull? ) NZ in less than a fortnight.
And something tells me I’ll miss the chaos.

New Boots Again

She’s a hard road finding the perfect pair of streetware / active shoes, but I’m getting closer.

In a case of second verse, same as the first, I’ve taken advantage of cheap online shopping here to update my footwear.

The new ones come a little closer to respectability, have a little more padding underfoot, and are heavier – probably the same weight as heavy work socks.

They’re also more versatile colour-wise – black ‘n white goes with anything, eh Grace?

Laden

The above are run-of-the-mill sights on Vietnamese Roads, any one of which would be like rotting meat to flies for NZ cops.

Everyone here, including cops, pretty much ignores these spectacles. They do present a challenge for novices such as myself, inasmuch as getting past them on narrow streets is a fraught game.

But all part of the fun.

I ran across the pictures in a quora.com post , Thailand v. Vietnam, and couldn’t resist nicking them.

Vietnamese kindness part VIII

Harking back to a favourite subject, I was again today the victim of Vietnamese kindness.

I was about to go on a supermarket run ( walnuts , NZD $7 / 100 gram ), when I heard my name being shouted in Vietnamese accent from over the road.

Lo, it’s Trang, a friend of the aforesaid Richard, waddling over briskly from the cafe over-road, brandishing two bottles;

This chap is a ( Vietnamese ) English teacher, but despite that handicap, I gathered ’twas for the ankle, and that it contained white wine and ethanol.

He repeated the instruction “not to drink” a suspect number of times, possibly three in all.

I sniffed it – alcohol alright – but it contains another herb or spice, which has so far flummoxed my limited bloodhound faculties, and his limited English.

He’s a well-meaning sort, so assuming primum no nocere, and all that, I’ve tried it. No disaster, but an unexpected miracle cure hasn’t happened either.

Books

And because I’m too lazy to produce a separate post ….

I’ve finished the last Sherlock Holmes, and today bought the volume above ( NZD $3.30 ), with the aim of dragging it out through the upcoming travels to Dalat, and back home.

Jumping through hoops

Far from do what thou wilt, do what you must is more like a traveller’s credo.

That’s been a big part of what I’ve learned on this 15-month jaunt.

Which is a long-winded way of explaining that a couple of boxes have been ticked;

  • I laid hands on My Precious, my passport, this morning, freshly stamped and keeping me out of trouble here for another month, until October 1.
  • The HR Dept of the school I worked for returned – with their seal of approval – the document I need to claw back my expenses from the bike accident. Now I only have two more hoops to jump before getting that pot of gold –
    1. Go to the school and pick up the original, paper version
    2. Post it with a wad of other documents worthy of a lawyer – to Hanoi

It’s all very wearying. But easy enough to convince myself to do it when I ponder the sad truth that it’s worth 60 hours of online teaching.

Alea jacta est

A rambling man

Hi Dave,

this finds me at a bit of a loose end , feeling 98% rather than 100. So, as per my usual self-interest, I’m writing to cheer myself up a little. This will be a stream-of-consciousness spiel, so you might want to skip some bits.

The caffeine, or more likely, what I’m adding to it ( various mixes of butter & coconut cream ) , isn’t agreeing with me lately. I begged off this morning’s coffee with Henry. I found myself very nauseous after a catch-up two or 3 days ago. When I made it home, I discovered that I was more dehydrated than a ship-wrecked sailor . I tried to fix that this morning by forcing myself to skull water, but the gut still isn’t happy. I’m unsure what’s going on. The first suspect is the butter – rather than the coffee – which is good quality stuff, supplied by Henry, who’s an a-grade foodie. Anyway,

I’m generally a little on edge as there are things which need doing over the next 16 days, in rough order of descending importance;

  • get my passport back, with the updated expiry date, Oct 1. It’s on it’s way ( tracking via post ) , but still a little nerve-wracking. As a foreigner here, you’re screwed if you lose it.
  • finish the insurance claim for the bike accident June 17. Bureaucracy here is decades behind us. Everything has to signed 15 times, stamped by the school, original documents, etc etc. Because medical treatment only finished two weeks or so ago, I couldn’t organise documents before then.I’m now waiting on a required stamp from the school ( the insuree ) before I can send it off. They’re taking their sweet time. The money ( in the high three figures, so not to be sniffed at ) will go to Henry, who I’m trusting to forward it to me. He’s a good friend, and happens to be a wealthy man, so that doesn’t worry me. What does worry me is not getting the documents in the hands of the insurance co. ( have to post to HaNoi ) before I leave. It’s possible that Henry could do it, but I’d rather not burden him with it.
  • visit DaLat for a day or four. Can’t do this without passport, required for hotel bookings. It’s one of three places I wanted to visit while in VN ( others are Nha Trang, and Da Nang ) . It’s inland, mountainous, elevated, and cool. Ideally I’d want to be back from there at least a week before I leave, to get all my ducks in row.
  • work on re-habbing the ankle. That is going well. I’m walking – slowly – every morning, and swimming of an afternoon. It’s still swollen, but the range of motion is improving every day.
  • Sample some more local food. As ever, I over-stocked on my supermarket outings – best option economically – so I’m still working my way through that.
  • Visit some more of the local tourist-y sites around Nha Trang. There’s a waterfall a bit to the North I haven’t yet been to, for example.

So that’s more or less the agenda for the next while. All the time, of course, still getting some funds dribbling in with the online teaching.

OK, I must continue my slightly manic streak here, and get some sh*t done.

( Hope to ) ‘talk’ soon,

cheers,

D