Saturday Sept 10th, 2011; 21:42
Location: Jungle Beach, Nha Trang Vietnam
Why: Shout outs to my peeps at Jungle Beach!!!
After stuffing my face with all the deliciousness that was Hoi An, these lil Asian flip flops climbed into a delayed overnight sleeper bus bound for Nha Trang. Along the way, I snuggled up to a cute Spanish guy named Arnau whom I had met in our dorm at Hop Yen Hostel. We chatted about all things nice and sunny under the sun before falling asleep to the rhythm of the bus, my legs draped over his - a comforting effort.
As my unplanned planning would have it, I hopped off the bus at Doc Let Petrol station some 60km-ish outside Nha Trang city. Upon the recommendation by several random travelers in Vietnam, I was let in on the secret that is Jungle Beach. Getting off the bus, I met my backpack sopping wet of fish sauce. It seemed, a local's stash of the liquid gold had spilled over and now I was drenched in it as I lifted her onto my back.
Sigh. Followed by an "ew".
At 4am and in complete darkness, I entrusted my life to a somewhat shifty xe om (motorbike taxi). After changing a couple of bikes (hence the shiftyness) and trying to rip me off (300,000VND, I don't think so), I was glad he took the pack and put it at the front of the bike and accepted my 100,000VND offer.
Then we headed into the late night (or very early morning) sky into the jungle somewhere. Well, it wasn't really a jungle...yet. The 27km from that petrol station was 30 minutes of excitement of the unknown, fear of the unknown and downright holy-shit-these-mountains-are-black-and-scary-what-have-I-got-myself-into unknown. The driver just kept going. I thought we were gonna drive right into the South China Sea. Or worse, he was taking me into the depth of the unknown and I'd never be seen or heard from again.
Okay, my imagination can manifest pretty quickly. Especially when I feel big, black mountains looming behind me whilst the bike helmet is clumsily bouncing into my face. Riding in black morning, past a Hyundai shipyard, through a village and on a bumpy road added to the wild imagination. He stopped at a barbed wired gate and circled back and forth a few times. My heart was racing. Barbed wire! Where the Murphy am I?! My heart was pounding and sweat was burning behind my ears under the oversized helmet.
Then I heard two voices behind the gate. My stomach dropped and my bum squeezed itself shut. Well, I thought, if anything happens, at least I wore clean undies.
I'm so dramatic.
The driver flashed his light and there was the sign: Jungle Beach. Phew!
I was greeted by the French Canadian owner Sylvio Lamare who fixed me up in a sweet hut. The rest of the week was pure jungle bliss amidst a private sandy beach, yummy meals, hammocks, palm trees, loving dogs, ridiculously friendly staff, bonfires, clear starry night skies, and impromptu guitar songs from the cute Vietnamese guy.
But the BEST part of this week long utopian hideway? The peeps who wandered in; from the Canadians to the Germans to the Spanish, Kiwi, Italian and British. It was a United Colors of Benetton scene of frolicking in the sun, throwing frisbies, hacky sacks, snorkeling adventures and beaching out under the bamboo shades. Oh and night swims in the plankton filled waters!
Shout outs to Dan+Elise, Tracy+Marian, Francesco (Cecco), Elli+Tatyana, Nico+Sebastian, Luke+Steph, Leroy+Laura. Antony. Laura+Eva. Did I miss anyone here? Sorry if I did.
Beach blissout under the bamboo shades:
As much as I loved sunbathing here, these tan lines would not happen at Wreck Beach. Not that I'm complaining...
Lazy hours spent reading outside my hut in my pod-like green hammock:
One day, we went on a field trip to the local waterfall, led by the resident dog. After breakfast the 10 of us lathered on the sunscreen, topped our heads with ball caps, bandanas (so cute Elli!), sun hats and shades.
Stopping ever so often, we snapped shots of our wonderful beach paradise:
Oh, hello Dan, thanks for looking this way (:
Can Elie look any cuter in her bandana?
To our disappointment, our guide dog led us up the rocky trail, only to find a dried up little quarry and a foul stench. We quickly realized stench came from Dog. He washed himself in the ocean later that day though like the great dog that we is. Good dog!
Some locals tried to tell us to keep going further up and there would be a waterfall. We weren't convinced:
Oh well, back to the beach!
I awoke just in time to witness a beautiful sunrise one morning:
One of the best times of the day was meal time! We all ate lunch and dinner together served communal style. After feasting on local scrumptiousness, we topped her up with rounds of cafe sua da (white iced coffee, oh my!) and rounds of bia (beer). Jim Bean even snuck onto the dinner table one night - thanks Tracy!
Dinner feast. Sebastian (far left) looks like a young, slim Jack Black but way cuter:
Four days after leaving, I am jonesing for the Jungle. But Saigon will suffice. The last of my now lifelong friends got on a plane earlier this evening here in Saigon. I know the many little heartbreaks I have saying goodbye to new friends on this journey will remind me to stay open minded, generous, caring and most of all travel to their countries! Italy (again), Germany, Ireland (again), Spain (again) - I can't wait to see my friends again in the future.