090312 Thaikarl - where are we now? oh yeah, Na Trang

friends, another bus ride, another place.  of course the bus lets us off in the  middle of the city somewhere, no obvious places to go from the booking office, but there is the  usual  hoard of motorbike taxi  guys waving brochures  for best hotel- near the beach, cheap rooms  yes  yes.  sometimes it's just easier to go with them, even though you have no idea where they are taking you, and you know they are getting a commission to take you to THAT hotel.

but, it appears to be near the ocean, and for 10 dollars we got an aircon room with two beds, tv and free internet downstairs.  so whatever.  we'll go get some dinner somewheres and figure out where we are.  i've long since given up  using Lonely Planet guide books like the rest of the backpackers.  if you use them, when you get there, you find more backpackers with guidebooks. to me, just being HERE is amazing. 

we walked for blocks looking for a vietnamese noodle stand on the road, or something like it.  no luck.  all the restaruants, and there are plenty of them, are tourist eateries, menu's in three languages, with italian, french and english foods, and a page of vietnamese.  oh well. 

vietnam is lacking in the quick-mart department.  not a 7-11 or Family Mart to be found (so far).  the little mini-shops sell mostly drinks and soaps.  so we wonder where to get snacks and things.

i've been trying to send this email for two days.  the internet at the hotel sucks, keeps going offline.  couldn't even stay logged in long enough to get into their router and straighten things out.  so we found and internet cafe.

we went out to the beach this morning after breakfast.  nice long, clean beach, with a walking park between the beach and the road, with the hotels and such behind that.  very nice.  in the distance, you can see some islands.  one has a huge sign that says VTNPEARL, like the famous hollywood sign.  it lights up at night in big white letters.  the hillsides below are scarred cuts.  there's a over head gondola line that runs from the mainland all the way out to this place.  we asked a fellow at a windsurfing booth what it was about.  he said it was a bunch of rich russians who put it in, laundering their money and putting a blight on the view.  the only good thing about it was that now that government party has seen what this is like, they aren't allowing another one to go in a little ways on.

tok had a dream about mama last night, and wanted to call home and see what was happening.  the sailboarding guy told us that the only place to make an international phone call was at the post office.  the hotels don't do it, and there are no phone booths on the street.   so we taxi'd down there.  tok made the call... everything at home is okay, but her aunts daughters husband died a few days ago.  went to sleep, and didn't wake up. (nice way to die i think)  turns out that the market was near the post office, so we walked there.  quite a market.  a big building was in the middle, and the market lanes were in concentric circles around that.  housewares on the inner circle, cloths on the next circle out, foods on the circle out from that, and on the outside, drinks places, fruit stands and souvenirs.  i like the markets, it's where the interesting stuff is.  lots of strange foods- dried sea horses and needle fish, fruits that tok hasn't ever seen, gadgets and tools.  the people are always talking to Tok in vietnamese, now i tell them she is from thailand.  usually they get it, others think she is just being coy.

the cruise ships dock here someplace.  busloads of um, older folks, okay old folks come off the Cunard Shuttle buses and wander the market and shops.  Na Trang is all ready to receive them.  so we're thinking of getting on tomorrow, taking a bus to Da Lat for a night, and maybe taking the train back to saigon, as we fly back to thailand tuesday.

on friday we get on the bus again in thailand for an 11 hour bus ride down south to go to the 'footprint of the budda' mountain pilgrimage.

photos and video will be coming!  i promise!  
Gorgeous the Life!   Nu and Tok

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