New Years Flip-Flop

20130428-101822.jpgOur options for New Years were pretty limited, because most everything was booked, we knew we wanted a beach. All the beach towns were already booked, but the travel agent was finally able to get us a train ticket to Nha Trang, a large beach city farther north in Vietnam. We took an old train for seven hours through some really foggy country. You have to love the cold war style trains with their bare comforts and squatter toilets. When we got off the train we had to walk across the tracks through large crowd of hawkers. We grabbed a cab to our hotel, a five-story building in the middle of the backpacker section of the city. My first impressions of Nha Trang were that it was a real city, not just some tourist town. There was some nice architecture, an old Church in the center, numerous large buildings, some lively traffic circles, and plenty of malls. Than you have this small section filled with tourist and expats with all kinds of food options, from French, German, and American, plus your normal Vietnamese fare. The beach here is really impressive, being the longest stretch of public beach in Vietnam. There’s a road that runs along the entire beach front with a tree-lined park separating it. There’s no resorts breaking the beach up, which seems amazing to me, seeing how developers are grabbing up any gorgeous beaches and fencing them off for their customers only. The entire city is on a bay with numerous islands in the distance. Closer up there is a huge island that is connected by a gondola that strings across the water using replica Eiffel towers to VinPearl land, a five-star hotel resort complex, with its own amusement park. At night this glows beautifully, not nearly as tacky as you would think. Now the giant letters on the side of the island are the exact opposite, and coud only be improved by some sticks of dynamite.

The weather was rainy, with extremely high winds, making the waves just deadly. This was winter after all.The beach was angled in a way that when the waves broke they just smashed onto the beach. They were at least ten feet high. Not really what we had on mind for our beach holiday, but it’s still nice to be near the water. Plus the power of the waves was really impressive.

We checked out a French restaurant that night called the Refuge, which had a lovely snug feel. They put paper icicles along the windows which created a nice winter feel and had nice warm wood accents throughout. With the brisk weather, you could almost imagine being in some Chalet in the mountains, instead of off the South China Sea. The food was amazing here, best that we had in months. I got an ostrich steak covered in a black pepper mushroom sauce that was phenomenal. We enjoyed their food here so much that we made reservations for new years eve dinner. Later that night we had drinks at a beach club called The Sailing Club. Great location on the beach, but horrible service.

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Next day was windy but sunny. The waves were still big, but we took on the risk. It was like being in a washing machine. Yvonne could not keep her top on, Mother Nature was determined to leave us both in our birthday suites. My swim suit, a cheap Indonesian one that I had bought, was shredded on both sides. Instead of riding the wave in head first, which is the typical body surfing position, at the last moment I would turn my whole body perpendicular to the beach. That way it would just roll me, instead of break reservation on the sand. It was one hell of an adrenalin charge each time I went I to the surf and I loved it!

We developed routines here that were nice. Yvonne had a cafe she would go to relax and chat on her phone. There were great running paths along the water, and I would draw in the park. We learned that by having little routines would make travelling for so long not so hard, you need the laundry day, the chill out and watch TV day, and even the occasional lazy day.

I was so excited about a German brewery with a variety of beer. In all these countries they only have one or two types of beer, usually a pilsner, and that’s it. I got a nice dark beer and sat at the bar. There was a work party going on at the brewery with loud karaoke music. The girl deejaying was in red cocktail dress and high heels, all done up to the nines. At some point her group decided she talked too much so they threw her in the pool, than all jumped in after her. They were all in suites and dresses. We managed to stay out of that craziness.

Now for everyone who knows me out there, New Years Eve and Halloween are my big party nights. I love them. I try to celebrate New Years Eve in a new place every year. Thus far I have been to Prague, London, Tokyo, New York, Germany, Buenos Aires, Ireland, and Wellington, among others. There’s just something amazing about ringing in the New Year in a foreign land. This year was really special because Yvonne and I would be celebrating it in a new country together.

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We were going take it easy that day, just a stroll down the beach to look at some ancient Cham ruins. Haha, just a stroll I say. It turned out to be about five kilometers down the beach, and up the river a bit. Because this was spur of the moment we did not have any money, so that we had to search out an ATM, even though we had passed dozens earlier. We had to keep walking for another kilometer to find money to get into the site, pretty stupid, I know. The temple is situated on a hill overlooking the mouth of the river as it runs into the bay. From the bottom of the hill you can see three different temples.We hired a girl in tradition dress to guide us around the site. She was really sweet but so small and soft-spoken we could barely hear her as she explained the various temples and religious beliefs. I know one temple was the mother temple, then baby, and probably a father too. There’s a lot of sexual iconography in the temples, where there is a mother altar where water runs down representing life, and often a nobby thing sticking out representing the male genitalia. All and all it was very interesting, and there was traditional dance too. Well it was much later than we thought, but we figured we could try a short cut through the city. Stupid! We ended up going way out of our way and it was nearly five by time we got back. I had a few things I needed to get done, and I couldn’t let Yvonne know, so I had to make some excuse of getting reservations so I could pick up her surprise.

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The big night was upon us, and we never even got a chance to take a nap. I surprised Yvonne with a full length evening gown, to set the mood for the night. Miraculously it fit perfect, and looked great with her Christmas jewelry. We started out at Refuge, the French restaurant I had mentioned earlier. The owner was so nice and gave us complimentary champagne. I got a beef tenderloin with the mushroom sauce and baby fingerling potatoes. Yvonne had a chicken dish that was seasoned perfectly, then I tried a vodka sorbet, which really turned out to be a massive shot of vodka with a mint sorbet melting in it. The owner came out and topped it off for us too, just in case there was not enough vodka in the first go around. Add a bottle of red wine and you could say we were doing pretty good.

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Next we headed down to the Sailing Club for the beach party. Rain was still threatening, and the wind was working itself into a blinding fury. The Sailing Club was packed, everyone dressed in their best. They had set a large stage on the waterline, with a full band and dancers. They were doing a mix of dance and pop songs. We stayed in the club for a few drinks than made our way down to the beach to dance. We got a table near the stage and started partying with some Australians who had buckets of rum and coke. Gangnum style was the song choice for the night, being played at least three times. This would drive the crowd mad, with every one doing their edition of the horse riding dance.

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At one point the bouncers set up a small table in the middle of the madness with three chairs, a large bottle of booze, some mixers, and ice. This good-looking Asian guy sits down at it with very preppy style clothes, right down to the designer scarf. Yvonne points him out to me and says I should go say hi, and hands me someone’s scarf. So I wrap it up in a similar preppy style and introduce myself. Well his names Jonathon, from Hong Kong, and he offers me a Gin and Tonic that he whips up. Really nice guy, we chat for a bit till his two lady companions show up. He introduces them though I don’t remember their names, one’s Asian the other is Eastern European, and both appear to be his girlfriends. Not too bad, though a lot of work I’m sure. I introduce Yvonne and we wander off with drinks in hand to party with the Aussies.

The lines in the bathrooms were ridiculous, so I head under the barrier to use natures facilities when a giant rogue wave crashes into me, soaking me head to toe. So much for my classy evening. Even worse, I had Yvonne’s iPhone and camera in my pocket, both ruined. Smart one Mike!

Even with soaked pants, the party must go on. I saw my friend Jonathon chilling out alone, so I sat down at his table and started talking about life, real estate, and relationships. I told him about our trip, and he was envious of the freedom of it all. He said everything in his life was planned and controlled, that he did not get to decide anything. Which of course I said was crazy. A good-looking dude with everything in the world and he felt like he could not do anything for himself. Well we had a few more drinks, and Yvonne came over to chat with him. Out of nowhere I felt a finger slide into my ear canal against my ear drum. His Asian girlfriend is standing behind me with her finger shoved in my ear and she tells me if I don’t get out of her seat she is going to pierce my ear drum. I calmly look up at her and tell her in the nicest way possible, if she does not get her finger out of my ear something very unpleasant was about to happen to her. This goes back and forth till I finally stand up and look down at her with her finger still in my ear. The crazy chick finally pulls her finger out, tells me it’s ok cause she knows exactly how much pressure it takes to pierce the ear canal, then try’s to kiss me in front of Yvonne and her boyfriend. I push her back calling her a psycho something and why didn’t she just ask for her seat back. I did not even know she was there. Yvonne had no idea nor Jonathon what his girl was doing this, because she blocked their view. When I told Yvonne we got the hell out of there, preferring the normal party the Aussies were throwing.

Later that night after new years we saw Jonathon staring at the waves by himself so Yvonne told me to see if he was ok. Like I said, we thought he was a nice guy, but his chicks were nuts. So I went and talked to him and he was like the Asian girl was all upset and could I apologise to her. When she’s upset everyone has a bad time, and he just wanted her happy. I look over and she’s sitting in the surf with all her designer clothes. Just letting the waves hit her. I told Jonathon that she assaulted me, and I did not really have anything to apologise for, but he begged me so I conceded. I went over and said I was sorry she was upset, that I did not mean for my precious ear drum to get in the way of her finger, and how could I make life better. Then she starts crying that she lost all her cards in the waves, and that she was ruined. Mind you, we all know that there was no room in that dress for cards, nor had she spent a penny the whole night. I apologized again just to try to smooth shit over and she thanked me.

While this is going on the white chick is begging Yvonne to keep me away from Jonathan cause I upset the balance and make the Asian girl upset. Yvonne, not quite grasping how crazy these chicks were, told her Jonathon is a grown man and can make his own decisions. She was like “You don’t understand, when SHE’s unhappy we are all unhappy.” Crazy I know!

We conceded that they were beyond crazy, and wandered down the beach to go for a swim. I was already soaked so why not. There were quite a few people going for late night swims, but not too far out because the waves were still deadly. It was getting on four AM, and we were beat. We start looking for our flip-flops on the dance floor/beach so we could go to bed. I find mine and we notice crazy Eastern European girl is there looking for hers, so I wish her a happy New Years. Big Mistake Mike. Next thing I know she comes running over with her flip-flop in hand screaming that I ruined everything, and that SHE was so unhappy. Then she round houses me in the face with her flip-flop. Not once mind you, but six or seven times she smacks me. Till I remember that I have a flip-flop too. I give her one nice tap on top of the head and tell her if she hits me again I will not be so nice next time. Well this stops her at least. The bouncers come over to say that they saw everything and dragged her out of the club. Crazy is Crazy, and their little sex triangle was nuts. Money does not buy happiness.

Overall, Yvonne and I had a magical New Years Eve in Vietnam, and it would not be a Bencik story if something crazy did not happen. A great beginning to 2013!

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