Yet another day comes to a close here in Farawayland, following a sweaty continuation of my escape from the autumn of my years.
This sun-drenched Saturday began with a long and occasionally scorching walk along Da Nang’s incredibly beautiful beach.
I was reminded that the Pacific Ocean does indeed start somewhere beyond the Philippines, the closest land to our east. Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch.
The goal of today’s morning stroll was Marble Mountain, where the number of visitors present there as early as 9 a.m. today suggested that it’s clearly one of Da Nang’s genuinely popular attractions. But despite the name, we found no marble, and we didn’t exactly ascend a mountain, either.
Marble Mountain is more like an atoll stranded on land a long time ago. To reach the top and enjoy the wonderful panoramic view of the area, we took one of the two sauna-hot elevators for 110,000 Dong ($4.50).
Now that I think about it, we did actually see a few marble Buddhas on Marble Mountain. But perhaps the most interesting of the excursion was how the price of a plastic bottle of water related to our altitude.
At sea level (by the aforementioned elevator), a 0.5L bottle cost about 50 cents. Midway, it increased to 70, and at the top of the atoll, that price doubled. However, as with most things in Vietnam, there’s usually some room for negotiation. And as always, I feel a bit guilty for haggling, which the vendors take advantage of without mercy.
We took the same beach stroll back along the water’s edge, but now with the sun at our backs, which I still feel the warmth of as I write this.
In total, we passed a maximum of four others during our beachscapade. It’s apparently still low season here right now, and having such a long and beautiful beach almost entirely to ourselves was both marvelous and somewhat eerie.
Where is everybody?
Sometime tonight, our local mobile plan will expire. For a couple of hours this evening, we tried to extend it at a few different mobile shops. But our attempt led to absolutely nothing.
Tired and hungry, we settled heavily onto a padded bench at the back of Isakaya Man, a scruffy Japanese bodega two blocks from our hotel.
In came tempura, in came eight pieces of spicy tuna nigiri, in came a steaming plate of edamame, in came eight pieces of salmon avocado nigiri. A couple of cool Sapporos for Charlotte and two cold Schweppes sodas for me. Burp!
Tonight, it was my turn to foot the bill, and for the umpteenth time, I thought the amount was wrong, that the server had forgotten to add something. But no. I paid 365,000 Dong ($15) and then had a flashback that took me back to Ventimiglia, to Rome, to Brindisi, and when I was a multi-millionaire in Lire and as rich as Scrooge in Drachma while on Kos, Corfu, and Mykonos.
It’s undeniably a great feeling to be able to spoil oneself here, especially now when the Swedish crown is embarrassingly weak. It might take a freshly charged defibrillator to counter the shock once we’re back at the checkout counter of our local market in a few weeks.
Yes, I had yet another creamy Coconut Coffee to cap off this day. After all, it’s Saturday night and a full moon. No, I probably won’t be falling asleep early tonight, either.
Photo: Charlotte Raboff