I’m sitting on a poorly air-conditioned bus halfway between Saigon and Mui Ne on the coast. It’s one of the closest beach resorts (200 km) from the capital of Vietnam, yet the trip takes six hours – thanks to poor roads and traffic! My back is sweating against the faux-leather seat, but at least we get to talk with some fellow travelers. Alanmies has already introduced snus to a Mexican guy, and we’ve share some travel tips to an Australian student.
This is the last week of our trip, and the part we didn’t plan in advance. We considered going to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but although it’s one of the world’s wonders, I honestly felt that I could lie on the beach for some days instead. We haven’t been doing that at all, and isn’t the idea off a holiday to relax? Alanmies agreed, so three days ago we started searching for accommodation on the Southern Vietnam coast. That was easier said than done: all online services showed that Mui Ne was “full” – we had totally forgotten the New Year, which is a popular holiday here, too. I even spoke with Asiarooms and Last Minute, and they had absolutely nothing to offer. I was getting desperate. In the airport lounge in Singapore we had one hour to run frenetic searches on the public computers, and after 15 minutes Agoda.com showed that it had “only one room left” in one of the beach resorts in Mui Ne. I shouted to Alanmies to bring the credit card – don’t you hate when Agoda shows “four more people are looking at this hotel right now” announcements? – and managed to secure the booking. The price, around 600 euros for four nights including an obligatory New Year gala dinner, was a bit higher than what we had expected, but that’s the price you pay for not booking early (and for wanting several stars worth of comforts).
Had to stop writing for a while, since this road is really bumpy! The bus is honking the horn all the time to make motorists give us way. Outside the window it’s just fields and villages, pho soup stalls and farmer’s huts. And then suddenly, a super-wide parade road with decorated arches that seems to go to a nearby factory, as if it was built for a factory visit of the communist party heads. (Maybe it was.) And here and there some really beautiful white houses with red brick roofs. Some of them look very Frech-inspired, which makes sense, Vietnam was occupied by the French for a long time until the mid-1900s. Then I see a Buddhist temple, someone selling Coca-Cola, a Christian church, bush, bush, bush and then a huge Soviet-style ad, where workers are looking to the future, smiling. The socialist ideology prospers next to market economy. After all, the shade of red is the same in the star flags and Coca Cola & Pizza Hut logos.
Ok, I’m bored, so forgive me my lousy humour:
Talking about socialism and alternatives, you probably remember the hilarious photo blog Kim Jung Il looking at things. I went through my photos from Singapore, and I would like to give you an alternative view to the city, through my hubby Alanmies and a Finnish crime-writer Jarkko Sipilä.
Alanmies looking at Jarkko Sipilä (while taken to places)
“Sri Mariamman temple was established 1827 and is the oldest hindu temple in Singapore.”
“Just when you are thinking of things to do in Singapore, step into Little India and you will be in bylanes full of alluring merchandise and enthusiastic sellers that give you a vivid, colourful and truly Indian shopping experience in Singapore.”
“The buddha tooth relic temple in Chinatown is based on the Tang dynasty architectural style and built to house the tooth relic of the historical Buddha.”
“Raffles Hotel is a colonial-style hotel in Singapore. It was established by two Armenian brothers from Persia—Martin and Tigran Sarkies—in 1887. In later years they were joined by younger brothers Aviet and Arshak and kinsman Martyrose Arathoon.”
“The Long Bar. Home of the Singapore Sling, the earthy decor of this two-storey bar was inspired by the Malayan plantations of the 1920s.”
Amazing how good literature can carry you through the sights. 🙂
Ok, we’ve arrived to Mui Ne, which seems to be perfect for a beach holiday. Off to dinner!