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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Dead Dog Beach

After spending Tet in Hoi An we grabbed a plane from Na Trang down to HCM where we were picked up by a driver and a "small" car to travel to a beach resort in the south. The size of the car is mentioned because the drive from HCM is usually between 3.5-5 hours. THe distance we travelled was only about 170k, but the roads are narrow and for most of the trip lined with a variety of shops and businesses - most closed fo the holiday. The drive was uneventful; only saw one tragic accident. The roads were relatively quiet given it was still Tet holiday.

We made good time and it seemed we would be at our resort within the 3.5 hours until we entered a small town and our driver began asking people for directions. Turns out we had gone to the wrong town! After some frantic phone calls to his boss he figured our where to go, apologizing to us the whole way. In his effort to make up the time, he scared us silly with very fast driving on rural roads. We arrived safe, but frazzled.

The Princess D'Anna is a quiet resort situated on a stunning endless strip of beach that goes for kilometers in each direction. There is a fishing village nearby which active each day with the business of fishing....nice to visit, but not really for tourists. We named the beach, "Dead Dog Beach" because the first day we walked down to the village we saw three dead dogs on the beach among the other debris left by the fishermen. This was not a fishing town with civic pride about its appearance. This was a concern for the hotel, since it is interested in the tourist experience. But it was far enough away from the hotel so unless you walk to it it is no problem.

The resort itself was busy when we first arrived, bustling with Vietnamese families on their Tet holidays. This was surprisingly our first exposure to wealthy Vietnamese on this trip. Basically upper middle class people seem to be the same everywhere in the world. We did notice that their kids were more plump and boisterous than most of the rural, poorer kids we had seen for most of our trip.

When we first arrived we were initially struck by the prices for food and drink. Basically the same as upscale Toronto restaurants. This was a sharp contrast from our weeks traveling the region and finding great food at reasonable prices. It took us a while to get used to this, but the chef and staff soon won us over. We were there 7 nights. On the 2nd night the chef came out and asked how we enjoyed the food. When we gave him a lukewarm, "nice" he wanted to know more. This turned out to be a good conversation because for several more nights he cooked up dishes in consultation with us and we then did get some great meals, including local fresh oysters, grilled scallops, frog legs and a special local pancake.

Most of our days were spent relaxing on the beach, swimming, reading and just unwinding from our wonderful, but busy trip. It was also a sad time for us since our dear friend Jim passed away. There were many tears and reflective moments.

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