It had to happen at some point — after a few weeks in Vietnam, we finally found a place we flat out didn’t like. That place was Quy Nhon (pronounced “hwee ngon”) — a very quiet beach town on the central coast of Vietnam.
Quy Nhon just doesn’t quiet make sense. It has a huge strip of nice sandy beach with a decent, well-maintained boardwalk and oceanside park area…but there’s no one there. We walked a good 4-5 miles around the beach area and saw only a handful of people. The few hotels that service the area are nearly empty, and getting a meal is almost impossible. (Note: We probably should have been suspicious when our bus driver barely stopped for 30 seconds to drop us off and was literally driving away as we were still climbing off.)
Unlike the rest of Vietnam, where everyone is begging you to buy something from them, you practically have to beg people in Quy Nhon to sell to you. To top things off, except at the hotel reception and the nice Kiwi lady who runs a hotel and restaurant in town, English is pretty much non-existent. Getting anywhere in a cab requires a map and some serious charades skills. Although there is a decent local population in Quy Nhon, they seem to avoid the beach area and stick to the inland part of the peninsula.
This town is just waiting for a savvy developer to come in and give the tourists a reason to come. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it becomes a major tourist hub in the next few years — but we got on the first bus we could out of town!
I was looking at Vietnam pictures on Tumblr and reminiscing when I came across this.
How the hell are these complaints? No tourists on the beach? No one trying to sell you nothing? Underdeveloped? Come on, be a traveler! And don’t you dare wish tourism on this beautiful place.
I’ve discovered that the most fascinating information I come across in my life centers around the interaction of culture, food, and medicine.
Guess I’m on the right path.
Asked by emmathompson0
I was; it was beautiful. I’m back in the States now, home at uni! I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to afford it, but I know my next trip has to be back to Ecuador to visit my host family. Hopefully I’ll find someone to bring along this time.
My flight was about $1300. I didn’t spend any of my USD. I took out about $530 in VND, and have about $45 left in VND. That means I spent under $500 in Vietnam, and about $1800 in all. Not bad for a two-week trip on the opposite side of the planet.
I seriously love Seoul’s Incheon Airport, have I mentioned that? This is everything I love about airports. Streamlined pedestrian traffic flow, made possible by dedicated arrival and departure gates and miles of empty hallways. Shops, restaurants, lounges, hotels. WiFi. Free WiFi.
At 6AM, however, it’s a bit eerie. A dozen people at half a dozen gates on my wing. Shops mostly closed. Moving walkways giving safety instructions aloud to the empty hall.
Oh well, there’s WiFi.
Hanoi International is the strangest (international) airport I’ve ever been to. First of all, hot as hell. When was the last time you went to an airport that wasn’t air conditioned to just above freezing? The lack of power outlets or WiFi was disappointing, but hardly unusual. Airports, however, being in the business of making money, should have a newsstand,coffee shop, and a currency exchange counter—the three, after all, are afforded a post-security monopoly, and can charge their captives what they like. Hanoi has the same shop, selling “Vietnamese” souvenirs and candy, copied and pasted a dozen times around the international terminal. I will admit that they included a restaurant and two duty-free shops, but there is always a market for a latte and a Times, is there not? And how am I to achieve either at my next stop without Korean currency in my pocket? Glad I made it to Seoul.
1. Drinking coffee at the secret café in Hanoi
2. Talking American-Vietnamese politics in the Women’s Museum
3. Touring Saigon at night by bike
Eating and drinking, learning about the people, and taking in the scenery. That’s really what travel is about, isn’t it? We take a little piece of the country home with us: maybe just an appreciation of fermented fish sauce or a love of motorbikes, maybe something as grand as an interest in international conflict and peace.
We’re down to my last eight hours in Vietnam. I sincerely love this country and the perspective it’s given me, but the vacation is over. Refreshingly, I don’t feel like there’s anything I need to squeeze in today. We’re eating, drinking coffee, reading, and driving around Hanoi. I couldn’t ask for more.
I admit with some embarrassment that the majority of my trip had been narrated by Monsieur Anthony Bourdain, host of No Reservations. While it seems Thomas Harris, author of Red Dragon, lacks the voice to replace my own, Vladimir Nakobov’s Lolita thoroughly invaded my psyche since our twenty-hour affair on the dark train to Hanoi. (And while I appreciate the eloquence my adoption of such verbiage has afforded, I am fortunate that I was able to shun pedophilia in doing so.)
Normally, I would tell a (non- camping) backpacker to avoid checking bags at all costs: it takes time, often costs more, and you always run the risk of delayed or even permanently lost luggage. If you plan on walking from the train station to a hostel and up six flights of stairs with it, you’d better be able to carry your bag through an airport. And if you can’t buy your liquids-over-three- ounces at your destination, you probably don’t need them.
Because I bought professional hair scissors (why yes, I can trim hair), moderately expensive makeup setting spray, and Vietnamese fish sauce, among other prohibited items, I decided to settle for checking on my flight home.
Whenever I have to check a bag, what I have left to carry on is minimal. For a flight of any real duration, however, there are certain things I don’t go without. Reading material (this time only those on my phone’s Kindle app and what I might buy in the airport), snacks (sadly all solid foods), socks (because even sandals aren’t comfortable after the first eighteen hours), a notebook and pen (mostly for doodles), my phone charger (and a charged spare battery for layover in foreign-voltaged countries), an eye mask (so I can begin to sleep with the night of my destination), and a variety of small toiletries, including a toothbrush and toothpaste, perfume, makeup, deodorant, and lotion. All of it still fits in my 8” x 12” Indiana Jones satchel, smartly accessorizing my outfit as a belted red-and-black backpack could never dream of doing.