these morning arrivals are a killer. i just spent 12 hours on a really uncomfortable bus with no bathroom, and i'm thrown into a town i've never been before, and it's really early, and for some reason, maybe because we're closer to the equator, it's crazy hot, and my first priority is to find a place to stay, if any hotels are even open. in my pocket was a business card for a cheap guesthouse catering to japanese tourists. i go there and the doors are locked, there's a metal gate, i can't even see inside. so i go to the hotel next door, and they want to charge me US$10 for a dark room without even a balcony. i say no thanks and prepare to search some more, but then across the street my eyes catch an attractive young woman opening up the japanese hotel. i was already sold on tight pants, i was prepared to stay no matter what. turns out the place is cheap, for US$5 i can get a room with a fan, but for US$8 i can get air conditioning and a tv. so i choose the more expensive option because, as you know, i am a high roller! the AC feels great but i soon discover that the tv only gets local, no MTV asia, no sweet kylie minogue videos to chase away those lonely nights. it's still crazy early, and i figure no places are opened yet, so i spent my time doing laundry in the sink and hanging them off of the balcony, i feel so macgyver. oh yeah, i also shower the stink of my body, and this place even has shampoo (i haven't shampooed since hanoi, i've been using just soap, somewhere out there a stylist is crying for me). i leave the hotel at 10AM and go looking for food, coincidentally at a place called cheers. i just get fried rice and a mango shake, and then i walk off to the beach, where i'm all ready to go, wearing my swimming trunks below my pants, but with no intention of going into the water. it's so hot, the sand is burning my feet. it's so hot, you can see the heatwaves shimmering off of the beach. i walk along the shore for a bit, the beach is surprisingly free of debris, which is good for beachgoers, but bad for somebody like me looking to find interesting seashells or stones or just anything. so it's pretty boring. i end up going to a remote section of the beach, camping out underneath a thatch umbrella, sitting on one of the supposedly free cabana style lawn chairs. every 10 minutes or so some woman will come by and try to sell me something, jewelry, lighter, candy, sunglasses. nobody has cold drinks, i'm starting to dehydrate. one woman even wants to sell me marijuana, i tell her i don't even drink let alone smoke. each one i talk to politely, with plenty of smiles to go around, if nothing else, just for the conversation. after about 2 hours of sunbaking (i ended up pulling my chair into the hot noonday sun, no lotion, just pure insanity), i return to the hotel, where i can already feel the burn (the bad burn, not the good kind). people start saying i look vietnamese now that i'm darker. i shower, i take a short nap that becomes a longer nap (with the air conditioner on full blast, i'm such a hedonist), and then i wake up in the evening to look for food, some barbecue place with korean style barbecue but it tastes nothing korean other than the kim chee.

tomorrow i'm island hopping on a US$6 tour, i'll wear sunblock this time, but it's probably already too late. i'm black now. i plan on leaving the beachy town of nha trang on thursday morning, nothing more this place has to offer, i think i've had my fill of the sun.

palm tree

beach merchant

beach umbrellas

german girls

more beach merchant
(find the offensive 9-11 lighter!)