Vietnam #1 – Day 6 in Da Nang

July 17th (Tues)

Did nothing of note after getting up. Breakfast was Banh Beo that Loc brought from a roadside stall outside their house. So convenient, OMG! Other than that, the whole morning just felt super awkward, not knowing what to do, what was going to happen. I was stuck in the room without any fresh air, as I was afraid of wasting electricity by switching on the air-con.

Had my last lunch with Thao’s family.

Said my last goodbyes to them. Will miss seeing Thao’s mom, aunt, and Thao’s brother.

The rush caused me to miss taking the Ky Anh Tunnel guidebook which I had left in the car pocket of Thao’s mom car since I thought she would be driving us to Da Nang. Pity.

Caught a shared taxi at 1pm to Vinmec Hospital in Da Nang.

Thao was sleepy and laid on my shoulders, unintentionally though, I felt. Zero conversation throughout the trip.

Reached just after 2pm and she had her vaccinations.

Ended just before 4pm and she hurriedly left for home.

I was becoming a burden in her eyes I feel, and she couldn’t wait to see the last of me. This I feel was the last I would see of her in person. And it was probably a road of no return.

Took Grab to Lotte Mart in the hope of drinking Koi. Alas, I got my information all wrong as it was the Lotte Mart in Hanoi that has Koi.

Went to the supermarket, but there were too many people, and I had nothing in mind. Tried finding the coffee that 4th auntie told me to get through my mother, but there was no sign of it. Tried to get a Gillette razor, but realized it was more expensive than in Singapore. Should have got my Vietnamese souvenirs here, as it might be cheaper, oh well.

Ate at Lotteria to make up for the missed opportunity at VinPearl Land. Ordered the Big Star Combo, which was basically a beefed up cheeseburger complete with fries and Pepsi. Had a hard time finishing, and probably something I should have to avoid with braces.

Still had some time left, so headed to Highlands Coffee, and got a Green Tea Freeze. Wasn’t as nice as I felt it was like the one I had at Arrows in Tam Ky.

Took Grab to Da Nang Airport, and confusion ensued as the driver asked me to pay the toll that we passed by before we entered the airport. I actually handed him the toll money + the Grab fare, but in actual fact, I only needed to pay the toll in cash since the grab fare was paid for by my Visa. Soon settled after some common sense.

Fast check-in probably because I was early. Cleared customs and security check in under 5 minutes. Plenty of time left, so I walked up and down the different souvenir shops. Finally settled on one and was in there for some time. Brought Durian Cappuccino, some pain ointment, a wooden bracelet, fridge magnets, and a small mirror as souvenirs. Still had some time, and bought me a Mocha drink from Costa Coffee. Scorched my tongue badly as I rushed to finish the Mocha before the boarding gate opened as I had expected. But in the end, the boarding gate opened really late and I had rushed for nothing.

Uneventful flight as I was seated quite at the back at Row 21D and I watched Mr. Sunshine Episode 4 over and over again. Touched down on time at Changi Airport, cleared customs relatively quickly, headed to Starbucks and finally got my hands on the Singapore Unique Icons Cold Cup for 29.90 that I had spotted last Thursday. Mission accomplished I guess.

Flight No. 3K542 – Depart at 2020, Arrive 1210 in Singapore

I was glad I had this trip, as I met Thao and got my mind away from work temporarily (with the heavy workload and Catherine no longer being there).

It was sad that it didn’t quite go and end the way I would have wanted. I will miss her voice which was really cute, addictive, and her infectious laughter.

Didn’t text much with Thao in the trip’s aftermath, I could feel that Thao was really disappointed, because the feel in the texting wasn’t there. She did send over some pictures and videos on 18 July, but I just felt empty and sad. Because months of texting and I thought we had something going on, was just ended after a few days in Vietnam. Maybe her being sleepy all the time was to try and get away from me as much as possible.

Last photo sent by Thao with the Halloween Pikachu that I gave her

The inevitable came on 23 July as she texted that we should be just friends, although we have not texted since. It was nice knowing you, your family, your friends, your hometown, and country. Anh nhớ em but Annyeong Thao.

So it happens she did a Moments update on 15 August, and she has someone new in her life. No wonder. Everything clicks now. I was just a passer-by in her life. Anyway, she also got the gifts that I sent her two weeks ago, on the 15 as well. Just a few words of pleasantries exchanged and that was it.

Vietnam #1 – Day 5 in Vinpearl Land Nam Hoi An

July 16th (Mon)

With no real schedule mooted the night before, I just did my usual morning routine and went back to bed, since nothing was happening. Suddenly, someone knocked on the door and it was Thao. She hurriedly told us to pack up and check out right away. I was a bit thrown off since it was so sudden, but I was glad. Doing something than nothing is always better.

Hurriedly packed up, checked out, and we were all in the car in a flash. I, however, got out again, as I was instructed to direct Thao’s mom’s car out of the narrow parking lot, while motorbikes moved briskly along the narrow road. Don’t ask me how, but it worked out anyway.

We ended up at the roadside near the tourist place we were at the night before. We then traveled on foot and ended up at a food place that resembled a Singapore wet market. At first glance, it seemed like many stalls were selling the same food.

Hoi An food market

Hoi An food market

They did the ordering like usual, and breakfast was a mixture of Banh Beo, Banh Hue and Vietnamese-style dumplings. It was a filling and delicious breakfast, and I have grown to like Banh Hue, and am actually missing this food as I type. Also had soya milk. Before leaving, we also brought Vietnamese Sweet Mung Bean Dessert with Coconut Milk which we will consume later, it sorta feels like eating Tau Suan which is the Chinese equivalent.

Hearty Breakfast in Hoi An

Hearty Breakfast in Hoi An

Following breakfast, we walked back to the car, and spent some time in a shop where most of the stuff were hand-made and Thao’s brother brought some stuff like clothes.

We then headed to Vinpearl Land which was in Nam Hoi An (Nam means South) and was wedged between Hoi An and Tam Ky. It was actually a new place having only opened in April of this year. After around 30 odd minutes of traveling, we arrived at the theme park, and I learned that Thao’s mom would be heading back to Tam Ky and pick us up at night. I hurriedly took out the belongings that I need, and it left me flustered since it was so sudden. So I only took my passport, wallet, and my phone with me. The all-day pass inclusive of all rides and attractions cost 500k. We headed in and left our belongings in a locker next to the water park.

Map of VinPearl Land Nam Hoi An

Map of VinPearl Land Nam Hoi An

Speaking of VinPearl Land, it’s like a huge park that incorporated a zoo, bird park, amusement park, water park, basically everything that you can think of, you can find it here. Because of the sun, Thao would have me carrying an umbrella most of the way for the rest of the day to shield her from the sun rays. I kind of like this arrangement actually.

We started with a visit to the 3D Trick Art Museum. I wasn’t much of a photo person, but they all took plenty of photos, and I was in a couple of group shots. Pity I didn’t take one with Thao at all, triple regrets. We then left and continued walking until we reached the River Safari, where we took a boat which would loop around a safari housing the animals.

I got to see Antelopes, elephants, giraffes, Bengal tigers, White lions, rhinos, swans, ducks, chimpanzees, monkeys, and etc, but it didn’t escape me to kind of feel sorry for them who were caged up, and I could have sworn that some of them actually had sad faces. Nevertheless, it is how is it. I also got to feed an elephant a sugarcane stem during a rest stop.

We then headed to the bird’s sanctuary next door, where it housed parrots of various breeds, and some of them were really colorful. They were all very calm and seemed very used to the sight of people around them. Some of them had a swagger to them.

Parrot among greenery

Parrot among greenery

Parrot #1 with SWAG

Parrot #1 with SWAG

Parrot #2 with SWAG

Parrot #2 with SWAG

There was an indoor arcade place, but we didn’t play any, and just headed straight for the 4D cinema. It fell short of my expectations though, not enough thrills.

It was past lunchtime actually at this point, but no one seemed to be hungry. We headed into the Folk Island section of the park, where it showcased Vietnamese traditional arts like pottery, paper making, accessories, and more. This was followed by displays showing the different type of housings that different Vietnamese tribes stay in. Some looked like those traditional Chinese housing you see in television dramas, while others resembled how tribes lived in mountains, where you had to mount an inclined log to get into the houses. It must be really tiring for them back in those days, having to go up and down them daily.

Something I found that resembled Taiwanese comedian 張立東

Something I found that resembled Taiwanese comedian 張立東

After an eternity in the Folk Island, it was decided we will have lunch. We already ate the Mung Bean Dessert at some point during our extended stay in Folk Island. As we were walking, I decided to take the chance and held Thao’s hand. She had been holding my arm all this while, while I held the umbrella up. But the holding hands part didn’t last long, and maybe it was a sign that things were falling apart. But I didn’t know back then.

Heading back to the main street with eateries, we headed into Lotteria which is like a Korean fried chicken restaurant. After queuing for an eternity, we were told that they didn’t sell rice dishes, only fried chicken which would be difficult for me with braces. I could sense the huge disappointment in the air, I felt really guilty at this point. They decided to have banh mi instead, and because I can’t have that either, I ate two big muffins and an orange pound cake. The awkward feeling in the air was so tight like a string, as I ate in silence with Thao by my side, and she must have felt boring, the other 3 sat at another side. I was really full from eating so much in such a short period of time, feeling really stuffed with sugar.

After 10 odd minutes which felt like an eternity to me, the awkwardness was finally broken as we left the shop. The other 3 decided to go to the Water Park, and I would have loved to join them although I didn’t have any swim trunks on me since everything was so rushed, and I didn’t want to have to buy swimming trunks here. Having only learned swimming just last year, I haven’t been to a Water Park in my whole life, and I would have loved to do some water rides. But with Thao saying that she was not going, it meant that I could spend alone time with her, so I passed on the chance to go to the Water Park. Another time I guess.

So it was just me and Thao at this time, and we were off to try the rides. I couldn’t remember the order of the rides we took, but we did get on most of the thrilling ones. But here it goes. First, on the list, we went on this Desert Twister roller coaster, which was like the usual roller coaster ride like in an action film set. It was quite fun and thrilling, but it ended really quickly in a flash. Thao, however, looked really scared at the end of it all.

Next were two stomach-churning rides called Fast and Furious, and Upside Down. Both were really wild rides which would flip you 360° in the air, and stop for a few seconds. It was quite a thrill for me as I dangled my arms and legs in the air while being flipped in all directions possible, but Thao’s face was all white like her fair skin. It was so horrifying for her that she screamed “stop” in Vietnamese for one of the rides to stop ahead of the scheduled run, and it did stop ahead of time. While I was pumping with adrenaline at this time from the thrilling rides, I was also quite nauseous actually after consuming my hearty lunch less than 30 minutes ago, but I didn’t really show it on my face because of my ego.

Next up was Swiss Tower which only I went on it, as Thao was scared and just looked on while holding an umbrella. Mixed emotions, as this was a good adrenaline rush for a few seconds, but doing it alone without Thao beside me. I did this before at Leofoo Village in Taiwan, so I knew how it felt. After going up to 80 meters as advertised, it plunged down and ended in a flash. Probably because when you have done it before, it doesn’t thrill anymore.

Then we tried another roller coaster called Lost Valley, which was similar in concept to Desert Twister, and offered the same thrilling ride which also ended pretty fast. Thao was just as scared as before and then mentioned that this was the end of any more rides. Lol.

As we were wondering what’s next, Thao mentioned that the operator told her to go for the second round on Upside Down. Thao, however, did not want to go another time, and politely said no. So we headed back to the Folk Island, for a performance as Thao said.


Traditional Vietnamese Folk Dance performance.

So we hurriedly sped there on foot, and just managed to catch the folk performance that was already in the middle of their performance. Thao was all into the performance, while I was kind of tired and just sat down on one of the wooden logs, and watched in silence. It ended after around 10 minutes, and it had quite a good crowd. Thao said that there was a water puppet show at 6, although there were a good 20 minutes to go before that.

We then headed to an open field, where we could partake in some traditional Vietnamese folk games. The first one was swinging a bundle and throw it into a circular loop perched in the air, needless to say, we did not get one in after a few throws, and sort of gave up. Then we proceeded next to a giant swing, where we faced each other, while the operators swung us back and forth. It was the closest I got to Thao, as we swung back and forth, like a mini Viking Ship ride, and I was kind of tempted to kiss her, but I didn’t of course.

Then we played a balancing log game, where we had to walk from one end to the other. I thought I could do this, but I barely got a few steps in before I fell off it. Thao didn’t make it likewise. The guy staff then tried doing it but didn’t make it either, lol. The female staff however made it through, and it awed me that it was really possible to do it.

Finally, we got to the last station, where you had to be blindfolded, while holding a club, and you had to follow directions from your mate while being distracted to walk ahead to hit hanging stuff a distance away. Thao did the game first and managed to hit it once.

I was up next and managed to do it successfully all the time. But strange enough, they made me do it again and again, about 6 times I think. It was because I was supposed to hit it once, but I was swinging it all the time until I found the thing to hit it. It was a hilarious scene I figure to them, and me. I only know what I had to do after 6 tries, Lol.

After sweating it out through the games, we then headed to the water puppet theatre place, where there was no one initially, but the place filled up once the show started. Thao left me there alone for quite some time before the show, as she needed to poop, and it was here that I felt that Thao was keeping her distance away from me. I was found out I guess.

Thao’s brother and Thao’s friends joined us after the show begun, but I couldn’t really get the whole show since it was in Vietnamese although they did introduce the title of the scene in English. After around 30 minutes, it ended, but most of the crowd had already dispersed.

One of Thao’s friends was actually scared stiff of the rides, so she just sat down on a bench to wait for us. Thao and another friend of hers went off to try some ride which I never know what it was. She was getting disillusioned with me, I feel. I took the Swiss Tower again, with Thao’s brother. Thao’s brother tried this ride before in another VinPearl Land, but this was much higher. Anyway, the ride was over in a flash, and I didn’t feel much of a thrill.

The last attraction of the day at VinPearl Land was the Musical Water Fountain show which was like the one back home in Sentosa, offering an epic experiential fusion of the latest multimedia effects, including 3D projection mapping, state-of-the-art lasers, robotic water fountains and giant water jets, pyrotechnics. We were running late for the show, so the 3 of them headed to the washroom, while I and Thao rushed off to catch the show. We sat together for the show which lasted around 30 minutes, and it was quite a spectacle.

Following the end of the show, we headed to the exit where Thao’s mom was already waiting, and the other 3 soon joined us as we departed in the direction of Tam Ky (?). Actually, Thao had earlier told me that I probably have to book a hotel room in Tam Ky. While I didn’t think much then and just agreed to everything she says, it was probably right on second thinking. It just wasn’t humanly possible to head to Da Nang, as it was just not on the way. It was crazy for Thao’s Mom to drive me to Da Nang, and then back to Tam Ky so late in the night. I was like the odd one, sticking like a sore thumb, so I forfeited my hotel payment in Da Nang.

Another thunderbolt then struck me as Thao revealed on the way back to Tam Ky, that she, her mother, and her brother had agreed that I could stay in their home for the night. So no hotel stay in Tam Ky for my last night. Was looking forward to going back to Le Dung Hotel actually. Thao’s mom brought some grilled corn so while everyone could eat them normally, I had to sadly peel them one by one and throw it inside my mouth. Stupid braces! After around 30 minutes, Thao’s friends got off 1 by 1, as I saw them for the last time.

Forfeited – Stay in Happy Day Hotel (Agoda) 34.62, Standard Double – The costliest accommodation that I had booked, and the best as far as I can see from online photos and reviews. I even had to make full upfront payment before the trip. Alas, it was not to be.

Upon reaching home, I realized that I had no towel for showering, had been using the ones in hotels. Thao’s brother then got on the motorbike and drove off to somewhere nearby to get towels for me, since there was no shop selling them in close proximity. I was so grateful but I didn’t really show it much. Thao was already in her room, so I was by myself for most of the night. I took a quick shower and then slept in Thao’s brother room.

Vietnam #1 – Day 4 in Hoi An

July 15th (Sun)

Woke up early for buffet breakfast, and was greeted by their friendly staff. I had a muffin, Banh Beo, fishcake, and bacon, together with coffee and water. And there was no morning beach session at Tam Ky beach with Thao, like I had predicted the night before.

Balcony view of Ban Thach Riverside Hotel

Balcony view of Ban Thach Riverside Hotel

Ban Thach Riverside Hotel

Balcony view of Ban Thach Riverside Hotel

Breakfast at Ban Thach Riverside Hotel

Breakfast at Ban Thach Riverside Hotel

Checked out after getting a text from Thao, and then headed to her house by taxi. Had a home-cooked lunch of which the egg omelet was one of the best I had ever tasted in my life. No kidding you. Thao’s brother will also be traveling with us to Hoi An I assume, and he did.

Sat around for a long time on the sofa, while everyone slept. It was at this moment I felt that Thao was feeling disappointed in me, since she would be doing her thing, keeping a distance from me, and I felt neglected in that spot on the sofa for the rest of the trip.

A little before 4 in the afternoon, we then set off in Thao’s mom’s car for Hoi An. Along the way, we picked up two of Thao’s friends, Nguyen, Ying (probably got their names wrong) which I didn’t expect of course but I was glad nevertheless. With so many people in the car, 4 at the back, it was a more lively atmosphere, but I couldn’t really get into their conversations since I didn’t know Vietnamese. There were some token English exchanges, but it was just surface talk. I was glad that I had a few words with Thao’s brother who knew English. I hope he does get to go overseas for study soon, having missed out on going to the UK in May.

Instead of heading straight for Hoi An, we stopped by Ky Anh Tunnel first, which was one of the attractions that I had hoped to visit. It took a while for us to get there because it wasn’t really known to them. Apparently, neither of them had gone to this place before. It was quite a journey to get there, with the roads resembling more like dirt tracks.

This tunnel in Quang Nam Province was one of three tunnels that had played an important role in the war against the Americans between 1965-72, along with Vinh Moc in Quang Tri Province and the Cu Chi tunnel in suburban Ho Chi Minh city. We then had a guide who showed us the place, the house which was a temple to remember those who died in the war. Apparently, the guide survived through the war and now lives to tell the story of what happened. The tunnels which were 32km long were an eye-opener, and I suffered some abrasions after felling clumsily while getting into the tunnel. I think there will be scars on my left knee and right fingers, as they still hurt even now, and the three scabs on the fingers of my right hand looked really ghastly and rough still. The tunnels were quite narrow, hot, and stuffy now, so imagine how the soldiers felt back then under war-time conditions.

Meeting Room inside Ky Anh Tunnel

Meeting Room inside Ky Anh Tunnel

After a rewarding history lesson, we headed north for Hoi An. Along the way, we passed by VinPearl Land, which I learned that we would be going tomorrow. I also noticed that there were random plots of tombstones just appearing every now and then. The horrors of war.

Along the way to Hoi An, it got really dark and there were no lights along the highway. So it was all down to the headlights of cars lighting up the roads, and again I was impressed with Thao’s mom’s driving ability. Besides being dark, it soon started pouring like crazy. After a while, we reached Hoi An which was like a little town with narrow roads and a lot of people despite the rain. Thao’s mom eventually found parking inside a school but it took a while because of the narrow entrance. The right side of the car seemed to have scraped against the walls of the entrance, but no action was taken amidst the pouring rain.

Ying had a raincoat, Thao and Nguyen shared an umbrella, while me, Loc, and Thao’s mom shared the bigger umbrella, as we made our way on foot to somewhere. It may be pouring like crazy, but there were still many people traversing the streets. This part of Hoi An looked really bright, colorful, and cozy, like an ancient town, with little stalls selling food and souvenirs.

We soon settled into a restaurant which was really crowded. Crowded usually means good in my dictionary. Although I wanted to eat Bun Cha, they ordered Cao lầu for everyone, which was a noodle delicacy that’s only found here in Hoi An apparently. I was glad they did because it was the most delicious food I had for the whole trip I figured if you want me to choose. They also bought a street food called Bò lá lốt ( Grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf). Apparently, it was another Da Nang delicacy, which was also really tasty I must admit.

After a satisfying dinner, we headed back to the streets, and it was still pouring. They then brought drinks called Mot Hoi An, which was herbal tea topped off with a pink lotus leaf, and I can’t really describe the taste, but it was a really unique and refreshing concoction. Walking some distance while holding the umbrella, Thao then held my arm again, and I was happy at that moment. We soon stopped for some banana pancake, which was like crepe draped with chocolate sauce, too sweet for me, but it was not bad to eat this at this time. We then turn around and stopped at a stall selling flip flops, where most of them got one to change out of the drenched shoes, but I did not for fear of adding to my backpack’s weight. We then walked across the famous and pretty looking Japanese Covered Bridge which is said to be the symbol of Hoi An, and it was as rumored, pretty.

Scenic night view in Hoi An

Scenic night view in Hoi An

A boat ride then beckoned as we got rowed up and down a small stretch of the canal/river, while there were pretty zodiac constellations to look at on one side. After the short boat ride, we then sat down at a small stall and had some dessert of which the name I still have no clue about despite Googling, but it felt like Chendol.

We then made our way back to the car and drove off to find accommodation which was River Sound Town. After a long ride, we finally arrived at the place and realized that it was a home-stay of some sort. For the price, the accommodation was really nothing to shout about and was clearly nothing like a hotel, or what I had imagined. You pay for what you get.

World Cup final at 2200 hours
Stay at river sound town (agoda) 15.84

Everyone was staying here for the night, Thao and her mom in a room, Thao’s friends in one room, while me and Loc stayed in the room that I had booked earlier. The World Cup final between France and Croatia was already underway, and when I did finish showering and got into the girls’ room on the second floor, the score was already 1-0 in France’s favor. The room seems to be clearly on Croatia’s side, but the mood soon dampened as France got stronger and stronger, and eventually finished as clear winners. You score, you win. The girls took some panorama shots during the match, and I just let them be.

Even before the match had ended, Thao just left the room without a word, and I felt neglected again. Just the feeling it’s all on me. Who wouldn’t right? Oh well.

I retreated back to the room downstairs after the final, did some quick cleaning up, and got into bed without knowing what was going to happen tomorrow, other than we are going to VinPearl Land. Texting between me and Thao trickled to just saying good night. Sad.

Vietnam #1 – Day 3 in Tam Ky

July 14th (Sat)

Got up early for breakfast, and I ordered out of madness Banh Mi with Omelette. I only saw Omelette on the menu and ordered that without seeing the words Banh Mi beside it. I had a hard time finishing the bread loaf as expected. The coffee I ordered was so little, like an espresso which filled 1/3 of my cup. Not a satisfying breakfast at all.

Went back to my room after breakfast, showered, and packed up waiting for the call. It eventually came from Thao, who texted me to come to her house to play together. I headed confidently to the street to call a taxi after checking out but realized it wasn’t so straightforward in Tam Ky as it wasn’t a major city. I tried using Grab and managed to get someone on my second try which was a rarity according to Thao.

I soon reached, and Thao immediately sat me down, handed me a paintbrush and we started painting an elephant on plastic, kind of like a painting kit for kids. It was like going back to school, trying to remember what colours to mix to get another colour, and trying to ensure that you paint the areas proportionately. It was quite fun doing this together nevertheless, but it was a shame that I didn’t take a picture or take it home with me.


Something similar but Thao’s one was on plastic and flatter and bigger.

Had home-cooked lunch soon after and then sat around aimlessly until 3PM before I was told that we were heading to the beach. Quickly changed to shorts in a hurry.

Thao’s mom drove us initially in the direction of the beach, but she then turned back and drove into a narrow strip of road, and I was amazed again at her skillful driving. After a while, she dropped us and left us alone in the middle of what I came to know as Tam Thanh Fresco Village. It was a collaboration effort between Korean and local artists to draw colorful murals over the houses and walls along the neighborhood. Some of the drawings were really well done with all sorts of themes. But that was not the main point though.

Posing against a wall mural

Posing against a wall mural

Sitting on a disused and painted Basket Boat

Sitting on a disused and painted Basket Boat

It was just me and Thao. And she initiated skinship as she held my arm as we walked down the road. A strange feeling came over me, as we walked, while others looked at us as we walked. Indescribable feeling. I was just in 7th heaven, and probably should have held her hand then, but I DIDN’t. Took just some pictures, and it was really hot weather then. Thao wasn’t covered from top to toe unexpectedly, and she wore a really cleavage revealing outfit today, a heart shape cutout in front of her chest. It was quite a sunny day and not entirely conducive for walking, so we spent most of the time trying to get out of the place instead. After some walking, we settled down in a small shop where we had drinks and a small snack.

After a while of doing nothing, we decided to head to the beach. It was a nice beach not those type which was populated by throngs of tourists. There were a sizeable number of people, but mostly locals enjoying a day out at the beach, and a couple of tourists like me.

The one and only Thao picture that I took

The one and only Thao picture that I took

Thao went into the waters because it was so inviting and I wish I could have followed her in as well, but I couldn’t because I was holding on to our phones, her handbag, and outfit. I could only watch helplessly as she had fun in the waters. I did have a picture of her, not really a picture, a picture of our silhouettes on the beach against the sun.

Silhouettes of me and Thao

Silhouettes of me and Thao

We then retreated back to chairs beside the beach, where Thao ordered fish porridge. It was a HUMONGOUS bowl, and it was not dinner! At this point, Thao asked me to feed her, and it was unusual for me, but I enjoyed every moment of blowing cold air over it and then feeding her. Thao then said we should come back tomorrow morning so that I could enjoy the beach too. As much as I was all for it then, I didn’t feel like it was going to happen at all.

Thao’s mom then came, and we then headed back to her house for a home-cooked dinner. Along the way, Thao’s mom stopped us by this massive place called Monument of Vietnamese Heroic Mother. Although it was night time, the monument was still looking really impressive under the night sky. The monument was to commemorate Nguyen Thi Thu whose nine children, one son-in-law, and two grandchildren perished in two wars. The museum was closed by this time, so Thao said we could come again in the day, but I didn’t think that would really happen in reality. So as I walked down the steps towards the car, I wonder if they could have put that money to build this to help the people living around here instead.

Monument of Vietnamese Heroic Mother

Monument of Vietnamese Heroic Mother

Before heading home though, I went to a shop nearby that sold mobile phones with Thao’s mom, and get myself a SIM card finally. I was wondering why Thao didn’t come along, since I couldn’t communicate with her mom at all. Maybe she was sick of me.

So the first attempt failed since I didn’t bring my passport, so I quickly walked back to Thao’s home and retrieved my passport. What followed was around 20 minutes of gesticulating and waiting, as they try to figure out something. All I needed was a SIM card. In the end, everything worked out, and I paid for the SIM card from Vinaphone myself until they say it was 10,000 short, before I could react, Thao’s mom paid for it instead, so grateful to her.

I wasn’t sure sure how the mobile plan worked, and I really wanted to know, but googling didn’t get me any answers. It was 3G all the time I used it, and even Thao tapped on it by using my hotspot, not sure why, but I didn’t want to probe since it was working.

We watched the World Cup 3rd/4th place playoff following home-cooked dinner, and I also met Thao’s brother for the first time. It was clear that dark clouds were gathering over me, as England showed no appetite to win the game. With time running out and trailing 0-1, I decided to leave early and took a taxi to my new hotel, Ban Thach Riverside Hotel, which I had passed by earlier. It was a massive room with a balcony, but it was definitely not as cozy as Le Dung. The bed was rock hard which reminded me of my army camp bed. Got a look in at the final score, and it read Belgium 2 England 0, went to sleep soon after.

Vietnam #1 – Day 2 in Tam Ky

July 13th (Fri)

Woke up for breakfast at level 12 of the hotel, Thao said we should meet at 6:45am. But apparently, I had to add 30 minutes to that because it’s a girl’s thing to be late? Anyway, I had breakfast alone in the end, and it was a buffet of some sort of local Vietnamese food. But I couldn’t really eat most of them because it was for me to bite or too heavy to consume in the morning. So I had fried eggs, and they usually do two of them. I also had something called Banh Beo which resembled Chwee Kueh in Singapore, I had two servings of this. The scenery in the breakfast room was nice, as it overlooked some mountains.

Following breakfast, I went back to my room to clean up and pack my stuff. The plan for today as planned before the trip was to head to Tam Ky, Thao’s hometown, and visit VinPearl Land, a theme park. As I was waiting for the call, Thao texted me to borrow a long-sleeved clothing, but I didn’t have a spare one. Apparently, she was going to drive us back.

So I checked out hurriedly, as they were waiting in the car. After a while, someone hopped into the driver’s seat, and it was Thao’s driving teacher. Along the way, we stopped by a shop, where Thao got a cap and a long sleeve clothing. She was really scared of getting a tan and was practically covered from top to toe. It was the same with Thao’s mom. I have to salute their determination even though the weather wasn’t exactly conducive to being covered up.

After close to two hours of driving, we finally reached Tam Ky and arrived at Thao’s home at 234 Phan Châu Trinh. It was like a shophouse of some sort, with housing on the second floor. It was really big just like what Thao had shown me previously in the picture. It was surreal to be at this place after seeing it in only photos. I had lunch at Thao’s place, and it was served by the auntie that Thao had mentioned previously, and was like a housekeeper who did housework for them. I was really grateful for all the meals she cooked but I couldn’t really express my gratitude as much as I wanted because of my zilch knowledge of Vietnamese. Sat around for a while, and then Thao’s mom called a taxi to take me to Le Dung hotel. It was my first time taking a taxi in Vietnam, and I just gave the driver a 50,000 note even though the meter showed 33,000. Didn’t get any change, and he just drove off.

Stay at Le Dung hotel (manual booking) 430,000 VND

This hotel was really nice from the exterior as seen from photos from, and the receptionist was really friendly and helpful. Showed me to my room all the way, and the room was certainly better equipped, well furnished, and cozier than Queen Da Nang hotel. I even got a complimentary drink and two bananas served to my room.

After having a shower, I had nothing to do really. Just staring into space. It was only mid-afternoon. I then attempted to find a supermarket nearby to get shaving foam. As I tried leaving for the first time, boom, it was raining, so I went back to my room and stared into space again. After an hour, I attempted again with the help of google map. But I did not have 4G, so I tried to use AGPS. As expected, I got lost and couldn’t find the place. It was quite tiring having to walk and I noticed that hardly anyone walked in Tam Ky. You really have to use either a bike or car to get around easily for sure because of the distance. After finally making my way back, I decided to shower again, and then waited for the call from Thao.

Thao finally texted me and it was here I felt that her disappointment in me was festering. She felt that I was too quiet like a statue and didn’t thank her mom or her aunt, who had fetched me around, paid for my meals and cooked for me respectively. It wasn’t the culture difference, and I’m usually polite especially to strangers. But I just didn’t know Vietnamese well enough to express my appreciation. I decided to learn some simple ones, and googled Xin Chao (Hello), Xin Loi (Sorry), Cam Ohn (Thank You), and Tam Biet (Goodbye).

Thao and her mom came around 6 plus which was way past 5:30 like she said, but it was fine by me. We then headed to some cafe called Arrow, and it was this place where Thao watched one of the World Cup matches here. I ordered a Matcha Frappuccino, and it was good. They had some yogurt from Vinamilk. After a while, I got to go to a supermarket opposite the road called Tam Ky Co.opmart, so that I could get my shaving foam.

Matcha Frappuccino from Arrow in Tam Ky

Matcha Frappuccino from Arrow in Tam Ky

Finally, it was just me and Thao alone, just like what I envisioned from television. It wasn’t quite like television, but close to what I hoped for. Shopping for groceries together. Anyway, I soon got my shaving foam, while she shopped around for snacks. It was a short time, but I treasured this moment. There was this loudspeaker that broadcasted news from time to time, which was quite a unique thing for me, as Thao explained to me.

We were soon out of the place though and rejoined Thao’s mom at Arrow. After a while, we left for Thao’s place where we had a home-cooked dinner. Following which, Thao had her singing lesson for an hour which I feel helps in building her confidence. She had a good voice and sang well too. Plus, she also plays the piano, so much talent. I then took a taxi back to Le Dung hotel, as Thao’s mum was already sleeping. And that was the end of today.