When Derek and I choose our apartment, I didn't realize how far away from everything I would feel. Back home, everybody lives a bit of a distance from work and that doesn't seem to hamper your social life at all.
Working abroad is different. I feel completely isolated at HAGL. No one around me speaks English, so those impromptu conversations with neighbors are nowhere to be found. At work, I'm in my classroom almost all day working with students who are English language learners. It would be very refreshing to be able to go home and talk with people who are fluent in my native language. Derek has been great, but I think we both need other grown ups to talk to once in a while. So we are considering moving. Derek isn't too keen on the idea as moving is expensive and exhausting, but I am simply not happy in my own home. Nearly all of our work friends (who are really your only friends when you live overseas) live at The Vista. We had a bad experience there when we first started looking, but I've convinced Derek to have another look with a different realtor. If we can find something good and reasonably priced, we will move. If not, I'm not sure what I will do. I am so lonely.
We were more than a little bummed out that our vacation to the beach ended so abruptly, and the boys were sad that they didn't get to swim in the ocean as we had promised. So after moping around a bit Tuesday morning, we decided to head to a different beach.
We flew out of Saigon Wednesday morning headed for the beach town of Nha Trang. We booked a last minute deal on an island resort just off the coast called Hon Tam Resort on Silkworm Island. We stayed in a bungalow with a huge deck (with a view of the ocean) and an indoor/outdoor bathroom. The bathroom had a giant, solid marble bath tub that the boys loved "swimming" in every night. There were beautiful flowers, banana trees, an no motorbikes (or as Oliver says "mo-cos"). We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean waves methodically rolling up the beach and woke to the music of tropical birds. I didn't realize how much I missed nature. Living in a high rise apartment is fine and all, but this girl grew up in the mountains. Big city living does have a few drawbacks I suppose.
Now as this was a spur of the moment trip, I didn't have it nearly as planned out as our trip to Hoi An. Actually, I had nothing planned. I didn't even really know where the resort was in relation to the main strip in Nha Trang. This was a bit stressful for me--I'm kind of a planner if you haven't guessed. But it was also very exciting and liberating to just go with it. Derek is very good in these sort of situations.
The flight landed in Nha Trang at lunch time on Wednesday, and we took a taxi right to our hotel. Or, rather, to the hotel's dock where we waited for a boat to come pick us up and take us the rest of the way to the resort. The drive in was remarkable. The mountain views and curving road in to Nha Trang from the airport reminded Derek and I very much of Colorado. You know, Colorado but with coconut trees and dragon fruit bushes. I particularly enjoyed hitting the top of the "mountain" and catching my first view of the turquoise blue ocean under a bright blue sky with bright green islands scattered around. Breathtaking.
The boys (yes, Derek too) and I loved the boat ride to the island. It was scenic, quiet, and the water was just wavy enough the Owen and Ollie thought they were on quite the ride. We docked, checked in, and went to the resort's restaurant for a bite to eat. After lunch, we got changed and played at the beach until the sun set. We had fun discovering little crabs, riding the waves, building sand castles, and burying our feet in the sand. It was a great afternoon.
Thanks to Facebook, we learned that some friends of ours were in town as well. They were going to check out the mud baths and mineral springs on Thursday morning, so we decided to tag along. (They have kids too, so we figured it would be at least somewhat kid-appropriate.) Our whole family soaked in mud together, soaked in some herbal concoction, and then played for hours in the mineral spring pools. These weren't just any pools. There were waterfalls, and slides, and all different temperatures and depths. The kids weren't too keen on the soaking in a vat of mud part (it was only fun for about 5 minutes), but they loved the pools.
We had lunch there and then took a taxi to The Po Nagar Towers located downtown Nha Trang. These towers are temples built by the Cham People around the year 780 AD made to honor the goddess called Yan Po Nagar. While there, we got to see some Cham people doing a traditional dance complete with clay pots on their heads. I really enjoy these historical sights, so this was great for me!
For dinner we hit up a brewery called Louisiane. I got to have sushi (very fresh fish in beach towns, you know) and the boys had a great pizza. Best of all was the beer. Actual, good, beer. I think we might have to fly to Nha Trang once a month just to go to this restaurant for a liter of their witbier.
Friday started out a bit rainy, but we decided to go to Vinpearl Land anyhow. Vinpearl Land is an amusement park on an island off the coast of Nha Trang (different than the one we were staying on) that is accessed via gondola. We had a great morning riding rides, visiting the aquarium, and eating next to the ocean. They have a water park too, but it was too rainy for us to dive in this time. We've decided we will be back. Maybe next year... maybe sooner!
The rest of Friday was pretty low key: naps on the island and back inland for dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant. A lovely day.
Saturday morning we woke up early and hit the beach again. We attempted to do some beach side snorkeling, and managed to catch a shot of fish near the rocks by the dock. Very fun! Maybe next year the boys will be old enough to go on a real snorkeling trip. At 10:30 we boarded the boat for our return trip home. It was much less eventful than the trip home from Hoi An, thankfully.
It was a great break albeit not the one I had planned. I can't wait for our next adventure!