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Tourists to Locals

Updated: Feb 27

At the end of this post is another Paul's videos! Flashback to Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City Part 2.

Wednesday we took a side trip from Hoi An to Marble Mountain or you could call it Slippery Mountain because it's made of marble and limestone. We carefully climbed through the caves and up the mountain to encounter many sacred sites and sculptures created by Hindus and Buddhists. The five mountains were named after the five elements. It occurred to me that, before mass communication, people evolved separately all over the world believing in a creator.

Thursday we went from swimming in the natural ocean to feeling like we were in a virtual reality. We walked across a footbridge to Hoi An Memories theme park where many people were trying to sell us things. As we approached a vendor or restaurant, sales voices automatically started up like we were in a video game. Mostly we just smiled and said sin chau (hello). The theme park culminated in a Hoi An Memories spectacular with 500 actors.

Wherever we venture, Paul sets up an office because we are the digital nomads almost ready for retirement. Our An Bang Beach (Hoi An) Airbnb was a tiny yet charming room at The Happy Bird adorable rental community for travelers.

As we waited for our six-hour train ride to Dong Hoi, we were entertained by Rowen Atkinson transporting a new living room chair to his apartment in the most convoluted way. The train itself was delayed about 90 minutes and at least four hours slower than a bullet train. 190 miles took six hours. It was somewhat clean, somewhat air conditioned with lots of mystery food that we dared not try. The view of the mountains, coast and rice paddies was memorable.

Our Airbnb in Dong Hoi welcomed us with a dog barking outside in a cage, a smelly refrigerator, and a highly questionable water filter. I may have been having an American princess moment, but the sleeping quarters and bathroom also made me uncomfortable mostly because of mold. Paul and I have stayed in many Airbnbs in all different countries. Some have been more rustic than others from acceptably clean to immaculate. There was one unacceptable VRBO in NYC that was dirty, and extremely cluttered, with a host who did not respect our privacy. He somehow thought it was acceptable to use our toilet in the middle of the night as a convenience, even though his living quarters were separate. The Dong Hoi Airbnb triggered something that caused us to high-tail it over to the Melia Vinpearl 5-star resort (still only $50 per night). The spa was divine.

We have a great view from our comfy, clean room on the 20th floor. Plus, we are in a charming and leafy part of the city with a beautiful walking park along the river.

Dong Hoi has the least amount of motorbikes so far. As we pass by the shops, relaxed adults and children seem to enjoy saying hello to us foreigners, uncommon in this Vietnamese city.

Wednesday we walked out to a peninsula with a big, picturesque and empty beach resort. We were informed while enjoying coconut juice and lemon ice, that tourist season begins in April. Paul wondered if 80 degrees was still too cold for a holiday in Vietnam. We're grateful it hasn't hit 90 degrees yet. Everything is relative.

The day ended with banana flower salad and more

This morning's trip to the laundry unintentionally included: Ellen's favorite, stumbling upon a rare health food market where we were able to purchase dry roasted nuts and sort of granola bars. Paul's favorite, an in-tune guitar hanging on the wall of our favorite breakfast place this week -- The Tree Hugger.

In keeping with our quieter, mostly local folks, city adventure, we were the only two people walking through the impressive Ho Chi Minh Square, a tribute to the communist leader who grew up near here. Dong Hoi is the scenic capital of Quang Binh Province.

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Just took the whole tour at once-- wow, so many very different shapes and colors and foods and structures-- doesn't resemble any place I've been. Thank you so much for sharing this, your words and experiences, and the action in the videos showed so much - this was a delight, indeed. Glad you're both home and well. You guys are adventurous! ♥️ 🌕 and loved that full moon, way over there.

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I really enjoyed Paul’s latest video! I love the photos. What an amazing trip. The cave adventure looks great too. And of course the markets & food!

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