The Road to Phan Thiet

After I went to sleep last night in Phan Rang, I had nightmares about what a whole day spent there could be like. I worried about scenarios like running into the restaurant owner that wanted me to party at his house or bumping into the Russian's who'd shared there rum with me. After a shot of the Hanoi vodka from the night before to calm my nerves, I packed up my stuff in a rush to prepare an escape south toward Phan Thiet. I wrote down the names and addresses of several hotels in Mui Ne in an effort to avoid yesterdays mistake, and made my way through the pouring rain to the front desk to get a cab.

view from my hotel room in Phan Rang
Yesterday I made it to the bus station, today I didn't even get that far. The cab driver had his scam all prepped for me to fall into. He drove me to an unrecognizable area where another mini van was waiting with a couple natives sitting in it, when I repeated "bus station!", multiple times, he pretended not to understand me and kept pointing toward the van. I got out and tried to negotiate with the van people, who looked aghast when I said 75,000 VND was the most I would pay. Determined to find a better price, I left and walked down the street toward a market filled with locals. After buying a beer, the locals and I tried to figure out the location of the bus station, using a pen and pad to communicate as clearly as possible. While we were working at this, the same van I had walked away showed up at the shop and was ready to make a new deal. Now the price was 75,000. So I decided to avoid a long walk in the rain and hop into the van.

The rain began to subside as we left town making me feel like this was a slightly safer drive then yesterdays fiasco. We went through the same routine, slowing down in small towns to pick up more people, which this time I caught on video for your viewing pleasure. Along the way I saw a variety of animals including sheep, goats, cows and chickens; and the scenery included some ocean side which was a good change. After something like two and a half hours we rolled into Phan Thiet and reached the bus station.

inside the van with locals
some of the goats
typical town we would pass
Greeted by several bike drivers trying for my attention, I dodged past them in order find a bathroom before my bladder exploded. I found a small civilized looking drink shop and sat down to order some sort of coconut smoothie so I'd  have an excuse to use there toilet. The smoothie was filling though and may have been crucial to my survival, because up til this point in the day I still hadn't eatin a thing; just water, vodka and beer; and was probably close to passing out.

Phan Thiet
coconut smoothie
I hit the atm after the smoothie and then proceeded to search around for a cab and pharmacy, neither were in sight, so I figured the first thing I saw I would take. The reason for the pharmacy was I had already managed to lose the mosquito spray I'd purchased in Ho Chi Minh, and several websites warned about mosquitoes in Phan Thiet. After walking half a mile I located one pharmacy with a cab parked right outside, I hailed the cab and asked him to wait a minute while I spoke to the pharmacy worker. The guy couldn't understand repellent or mosquito when I spoke or wrote them, so I hopped into the cab and showed him my hand written list of hotel addresses.

As we drove toward the Mui Ne area I started seeing pharmacies, so I made the driver pull over at each one. We went to two pharmacies that both couldn't understand and didn't want to deal with me, before I got to one who walked through the store pointing toward the most popular products he had, and after a couple minutes I was able to locate the spray I was looking for. After driving on from the pharmacy we hit the area I'd been hoping to find a hotel in. I studied the addresses to get a feeling for how each area along the strip might measure up, knowing that my fall back hotels were at the beginning. After 15 minutes we hit the furthest up hotel on my list, and after seeing the room available with an ocean facing view for 30 dollars, I quickly reserved it for the night.

driving away from the center of town

Mue Ne
With the bulk of my work done, I set out to have my first meal of the day at 5pm. About a half a mile north east from my hotel I found a decent little Vietnamese place right on the ocean and grabbed a seat at the edge of the patio. I ordered a pork and tomato dish and some veggie spring roles to go along with my beer, and as I began to eat the sun began to set over the horizon. The locals even started taking out there cameras as the sun set turned the view west into a piece of art. As the beer and food hit my brain and the sun slowly sank, I was left with the feeling that my journey to escape Phan Rang was most definitely a success.

looking north east
pork dish
veggie roles
above the horizon
below the horizon