19 October

I woke up around 7. Knowing that all five of my dormmates had planned to take the Four Island tour on this day, and three of them (the Californian and the two men who had tried to woo her the previous night) planned to take the 8:30 am Funky Monkey tour, I decided to keep the shower available to them. Instead, I stayed in my bed and surfed the internet. I should have taken the shower.

It was after 8:30 and still nobody had gotten up. EThe receptionist came into the room and forced the three hungover backpackers to get up and go on the tour. The fair-skinned Brit asked if they could skip it. The receptionist, in a typical Vietnamese response, said ‘no, you have to go’.

It took them about 10 minutes to get ready. I decided I did not like them. It was my first inclination of the absolute selfish meaninglessness of the backpacker culture that would become a theme of the next few days.

There was a bar not far from the hostel called Booze Cruise. When I told Snow that was where I was going, she told me I shouldn’t drink so early in the morning, but I promised her I would not be drinking. I went there to catch the end of the Florida State-Notre Dame game. There were about 8 other people in the bar, mostly Canadians watching a hockey game, although a few were likewise interested in the top 5 college football game.

From there, I took my homestay brother’s advice and caught a cab to Lac-Canh restaurant. When I got there, I was the only Westerner within a block of the place. There were Chinese signs and decorations on the well. The menu was in Vietnamese, English, and Mandarin. The restaurant specialized in Bar-B-Que beef. I ordered the most basic style of beef with a 7-Up.

The plate was served to me pretty quickly. About a dozen pieces of bite-sized meat smothered in a red BBQ sauce. A bowl of rice and a saucer of salt was on the side. I picked one up with my chopsticks and placed in my mouth. It was delicious — very rare and the sauce was sweet. When I finished it, I placed a second in my mouth. It was as I was chewing the second piece that they placed the pot of burning coals in front of me.

When I was confident no one was looking, I spit the piece I was chewing back onto the serving plate. The meat had not been cooked rare; it had not been cooked at all!

After I adjusted to cooked beef, I must say it was still absolutely delicious. It was a great trip off the beaten path away from the Russian and Western backpacking boozehounds. The restaurant appears on many guides, but still seems to be avoided due to its location, at least it was at lunch time on this Sunday.

I walked back to the hostel along the beach. In Nha Trang, the Russians have carved out their own hotels and resorts, separate from those frequented by Asians and Westerners. That is not to say there is a Russian part of the beach. The hotels are intermixed, but there are definitely certain hotels and resorts catering specifically to Russians.

After a short nap and a change into slacks, I came downstairs. One of the female receptionists — they all seemed to be on duty concurrently on this day — took my hand and told me that my fingers looked like those of a baby. It was strange.

Upon reflection, everything about the female receptionists was strange. While it is common for Vietnamese girls to act flirty and interested around Western men, during my 48 hours at Mojzo Inn, it was unceasing: touching, giggling, greeting by name. They did not show nearly the same interest in their female guests. Nor did I ever get any sense (except during the first night’s scene where the older man was giving the receptionist career advice that amounted to ‘quit your job if you don’t like it’) that any of the female receptionists were ever bothered or perturbed. I wonder if their open flirting with the male guests was encouraged by higher management.

I walked to Nha Trang Cathedral. It was a long walk after a day of long walks. The cathedral is stone with a beautiful courtyard and a stone staircase connects the street with the cathedral entrance and parking lot. I joined a mass in the vernacular. I did not understand a thing. While some older tourists, mostly French, stopped by the outside of the cathedral to take in the atmosphere and architecture, I was the only Westerner at the mass. On one side, only women sat. The other side was mixed. Since it is Catholicism, the structure of the mass was recognizable even if the language was not.


I got back to the hostel in time to check out with about 30 minutes before my overnight bus to Hoi An was to depart. Between the Sinh Tourist bus I was taking and another bus scheduled to depart shortly thereafter, more than half the guests I had met during my stay at Mojzo were going to Hoi An. I ordered a Banh Mi to go from the top floor cafe.

When I was at check-out, the Californian and the light-skinned British guy she had returned to the hostel with the previous night had just returned from the Funky Monkey tour. They told me they were screwed because of how inebriated they were. I determined that I did not like them. They were scheduled to depart on a overnight bus to Hoi An this evening as well.

I had bought a bottle of Vang Dalat for the ride, but lacking a corkscrew, I was unable to open it. This was probably for the better. It was difficult to sleep on the bus, not because of any deficiency in the bus — the Sinh Tourist bus was nearly as nice as the Futabus sleeper — but because the road was filled with potholes and construction that forced the bus to crossover a removed median into narrow lanes at various points. It was more obvious close to Nha Trang than it was approaching Hoi An.

Among those on my bus were the two Australian guys who had joined me on the Funky Monkey and at KFC the previous day.


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