Thursday, 11 January 2018

Vietnam, day 7: Two Tickets To the Reptilian Gun Show

Con Son, Vietnam
20 May 2017
Sipping on freshly blended juices and sweet iced teas had quickly become our morning ritual, and Infiniti Cafe was one of our top spots for its rustic charm and friendly (though very hands-off) staff. 
If you wrack your brain hard enough, you may just recall that Con Son is an island. I know, right?! Crazy! #islandlife. And even though Yannick's sunburn had not yet released its fiery talons from his back and shoulders, I had a strong hankering for the beach after missing it for one whole day. So, we held a Google Image Search session over our breakfast drinks in order to work out if the beach near the airport had trees under which Yannick could shield his scalded flesh. Perhaps it's due to the relatively low visitor count to the Con Dau Islands, but if you search for a beach or prison by name (and trust me, those are certainly the two things you will search for the most here), you're sure to find a confusing melange of photos that cannot possibly be the same beach or prison. Therefore, you have to scroll until your tired fingers can scroll no longer, and attempt to ascertain how many of the photos look to be the same place. This kind of research in Vietnam is often determined by a very small margin. And in fact, I once looked up a restaurant in Hanoi and scrolled through dozens of photos of meat, convinced that the restaurant was lying when it declared itself to be vegetarian, only for Yannick to assure me that it must be some sort of bizarre smear campaign (and indeed it did prove to be a restaurant catering solely to herbivores). But getting back on track, we were about 65% sure that our intended beach for the day would have trees available as sun shields, so we hired a motorbike from our hotel and set off. This one worked a bit more smoothly than the one we'd had the day before, except for a mildly alarming engine light that signalled to us that something we couldn't hope to fathom was amis in the deep crevasses of the bike.

Along the way, we passed by the entrance to the Six Senses Resort, which we had heard whispered tales of. Apparently Angelina Jolie had rented out five of the resort's beachside villas in 2011 to contain her entire sprawling family. Another tasty nugget of info I picked up from an online review was that the resort had a high street of sorts, which was where a few eateries could be found, including an ice cream parlour that provides unlimited scoops to guests. Unlimited ice cream!

As we pulled off the main road, we found that the dirt path that led to the beach was muddy and puddle-laden due to heavy rain in the night. As Yannick had only taken up motorbike piloting two days before and was still firmly in the 'learner driver' category, we decided that it would be too much of a risk to ride the path. Instead, we pulled over in a jungly patch of foliage and set out on foot. Yannick, taking a leaf out of a Victorian lady's book, walked with an umbrella over his head to protect his delicate skin. It's never fun to be badly sunburnt, especially when you have to trudge along swamps masquerading as paths. A surprising number of taxis and motorbikes passed us as we went.
Once we arrived at Bai Dam Trau, our ears were assailed by obnoxious music being pumped out of a beachside bar. There were more food and drink stalls than we had expected, and we immediately plotted a course for the edge of the beach that was farthest from the noise. Fortunately, there were trees!

We settled in under a swathe of pine trees next to a rocky outcropping. As we were so far from the action, we weren't bothered by passersby - few people walked out to the very end of the beach.

I alternated between sunbathing and shadebathing, reading or simply enjoying the scenery. Aside from the ants who would crawl up our legs, it was a very pleasant beach day. 

At one point, Yannick noticed that a lizard had taken up residence on a stick right next to my foot. He stared at us and allowed Yannick to take pictures. After a while, he ran off but would stop intermittently and do press ups. My theory is that he was trying to steal me away from Yannick. He came up and was like "Hey baby", trying to charm me, but I don't speak lizard so that didn't work out for him. Once he realised he was spurned, he left but would alternate short sprints with a set of reps to show me what I was missing out on.

It was quite interesting to be on a beach that was so close to the airport, and we could see planes landing every so often. This reminded me of Lyall Bay in Wellington, where there’s a similar set-up. We unsuccessfully tried to photograph the planes in their descent, always snapping them slightly too late so it looked like the planes were crashing into the hill.

Once we had become too fed up with brushing ants off our legs (they do tickle so), we found a table at a beach bar and rested there for a spell. It took a long while for us to acquire drinks, the staff being completely disinterested in us, but we eventually were served passionfruit juice and it was worth the wait.

I chilled in the hammock and we read some more. Ants couldn't get to me so easily there! Ha. Foiled, ants! Not long before we left, a couple of puppies frolicked and tumbled near Yannick's chair and they were adorably rascally. 

We made the ride back to our hotel just in the nick of time, with heavy rain clouds threatening to unleash a downpour at any second. With astounding good luck, we had a few giant raindrops land on us as we were pulling into the hotel's lot but avoided driving in a storm.
A few hours later, once the rain had stopped, we went in search of Phi Yen restaurant. Google Maps seemed confused as to its exact location, but we did see a place with people sitting at tables so we entered to inquire after a table. We were greeted, but they didn't seem to understand why we wanted a table, so we instead returned to Villa Maison. Our San Pellegrino was kept cold in a champagne bucket, which made us feel fancy, and we watched twitchy geckos and clumsy beetles as we wined and dined. Though no toads made an appearance, a night with French rosé is always a good night.