Overcoming Fears and Enjoying Beers
6.21.10 - 6.24.10 90 °F
The first time I ever went snorkeling, I was eleven years old. My brother, dad, and I took a quick trip down to the Florida Keys after visiting family in Palm Beach. I was about 4 feet tall, with a constant shit-eating grin. The first thing I saw when I jumped in the water was a barracuda, as big as me. The second thing I saw was another barracuda. I screamed and thrashed just as a big wave came by, and ended up with eyes full of tears and a mouth full of salt water. I haven’t been snorkeling since. Until now…
The owner of the hostel we are at now, Vicky, is amazing. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty – helping us in anyway that she can. Vicky knew when we checked in that we were interested in a boating trip, and when we didn’t get ourselves out of bed early enough, she came and knocked on our door, giving us options for boat trips that were leaving in a half hour. We opted for the more expensive, relaxing boat trip so that we would have more opportunities to snorkel. While the other boats were drinking beer and floating around the coves on inner tubes, we were lounging on chairs (that actually doubled as beds, benches, and tables) and making friends with the nice Australian family that accompanied us.
Unfortunately it was an overcast day, so the views were not as astonishing as I’m sure they could have been – but it was still incredibly scenic. Nha Trang is surrounded by hundreds of islands, and we were able to boat by a few of them, as well as the communities of floating homes along the way.
When I first jumped in the water I had a bit of a panic attack. I was fine breathing above water, and am a strong swimmer, but as soon as I submerged my head I began to hyperventilate, and couldn’t stay under for more than twenty seconds. Galen was extremely helpful in getting me to relax and breathe deeply. With each breath, I became more comfortable and eventually began enjoying myself. The vivid colors of the parrot and angel fishes were astonishing, and we even saw a purple sea star! Our snorkeling adventure ended when a group of jellyfish started moving in. After a delicious family-style Vietnamese meal, and a few jumps off of the boat, we headed home for a much needed nap.
The hostel we are at now borders luxurious, with one (incredibly important) exception. There are frequent electricity cuts, often lasting for 12 hours at a time. No electricity = no air conditioning and no fan. In 90+ degree weather, opening doors and windows to create drafts does not do much. When we aren’t lounging by the beach, or enjoying food and drinks at the numerous restaurants and cafes, we are napping, often in a puddle of our own sweat ☹
Our first night in Nha Trang, we had a lovely dinner at the “Louisiane Brew House” – a local brewpub owned by an Australian man. The food was amazing (some of the best shrimp I’ve ever had) and the beer was flavorful. They had about six on tap, and unfortunately we were both too tired to enjoy more than 1 each. I am hoping to go back tonight to try the rest. (John, sorry no bottles for labels ☹ )
We haven’t met many Americans so far on our travels. With few exceptions, the majority of our new friends are Canadian or British. Last night, however, we were enjoying some drinks at a lounge waiting for the U.S. game to start when a young man in an American flag shirt walked by. Galen quickly made friends with him and his German travel partner, and we had a great evening watching the game, screaming with excitement, yelling out of frustration, biting our nails, and eventually, celebrating the win. For Galen, that meant almost crying out of sadness when it looked like the U.S. might not pull it off, and jumping up and down like a 5-year-old when they did. He was hugging strangers, throwing his arms in the air, and I wondered for the second time if he was going to cry, this time out of joy. I’ve never seen him happier.
Tomorrow we are heading to White Sand Doc Let Resort, about 20 km north of Nha Trang for my birthday weekend ☺ It should be a weekend full of relaxation, celebration, and, hopefully, air conditioning!
P.S.: Passport Update! Got ‘em back a few days ago. The hostel owner in Can Tho sent them up here via bus, which is apparently more reliable than the postal service here. Phew!