While I wander about Saigon, I don’t want to leave you without something to read! My friend, Mr. Hung, from Da Nang, wrote a touching thank you for my gift to him of a copy of Turn Your Passion Into Profit….Click on the image to read his Facebook post and please leave a comment or like for Hung!
Hung gave me an “I Luv Da Nang” t-shirt (Vietnam Large)! And now you know why I wear loose fitting shirts!
Hey Hung, according to my friend, Don C., on Saipan, you may have a career in adult entertainment!
And as a follow up to the job interview post,
The first interviewee– Ý Nhi– pictured in the photo from the interview (and far left below in blue shirt) was offered the position, she accepted, and started the very next day–which was also my last day at the hostel! The staff had a farewell party for Thảo (sitting next to her) whom Ý Nhi was replacing!
In this episode, we meet my new friend, Trinidadian in Vietnam, Ronnie Defour, who shares his experience thinking and living outside the box! Enjoy, and don’t forget to say hello to Ronnie on Facebook (see video)!
Welcome to the first in the series of brief video introductions and interviews with some of the cool folks I meet on my “Jamaican in China…and Beyond” adventures!
In this pilot episode, you’ll meet Rogelio from Cuba, and Nga from Vietnam! Plus, you’ll get to hear the first ever recording of Walt Goodridge’s Tony Montana* impersonation. It may be well worth the 7 minutes despite my not-too-great-but-ever-improving interview and selfie-stick skills!
(*from the movie Scarface!)
Next episode: Ronnie Defour from Trinidad now in Vietnam!
Once there, I met computer programmer/coder, Vuong. who was nice enough to share a recommendation to try his favorite meal and translate a few requests to the wait staff.
We talked for a bit, and Vuong shared his travel suggestions (Hue City) and his insights into life in Hue City vs life in Hoi An (a city that’s on my list for Vietnam). I can’t wait to check them out and compare!
Next, I had a chance to meet a great, nomad, vegan couple–Alya from Russia and Chris from Australia–and we had a really, really great conversation, connecting on quite a few life philosophies, perspectives, opinions, quests and world views! They shared a top secret “passionpreneur” project they’re working on manifesting, and (hint, hint), I expect a certain Jamaican in China will be granted an advanced interview when it’s ready to launch!
Day 5: Free Day Tour of Da Nang!
If I recall correctly, it was a couchsurfing.org “Things to do in Da Nang” post led me to sign up for a free tour of Da Nang Free Tour–Hometown
[From their Facebook page:] “Hometown – Da Nang Free Tour is an organization established on October 10th, 2015 with the aim of connecting tourists and local people in the city of Da Nang. …tourists will have the opportunity to talk with the locals and learn more about geography and the history of our country. …Almost all tour guides are students studying in different universities in Da Nang. We are friendly, sociable, open-minded, enthusiastic, and willing to learn; You will have to pay for your food, drinks, and entrance tickets to our various locations. Local citizens will have more realistic opportunities to practice their English speaking abilities with foreigners….we can further our knowledge of several different unique cultures and get to know people from all over the world. Last but not least, we can contribute a small part to the development of Vietnam’s tourism industry by promoting the image of the country and the city to international tourists.”
My student tour guide was a second-year tourism industry major at the University of Foreign Language Studes, named Nhật Minh. Nhật picked me up at the hostel at 9:00am, outfitted me with my helmet, and off we went! It would be my first time on a motorbike in Vietnam….cool, cool, cool!
We saw lakes…
…saw some great vistas…
….visited Buddhas and pagodas…
Nhật took some great photos for me….
…and we met some sweet and beautiful people…
…and that was all well and good, but I believe that we–you and I–as enlightened and evolving spiritual beings must each clearly identify what our priorities are in life, and honor them to the best of our ability. So, as I mentioned to Nhật: given my unique set of priorities, the latest, and clearly most important addition to my itinerary for the day in Da Nang would be to stop someplace appropriate…
….and buy a helmet that fits my head and a cool black face mask like his! (No way would I post any more photos of myself with a tight helmet falling off my head and wearing a light blue plaid mask! I have the “Jamaican Coolness Factor” to uphold, after all. JCF? Look it up!)
With that accomplished, we then went to lunch, and then Nhật took me to the Fine Arts Museum
The Fine Arts Museum in Đà Nẵng officially opened at 78 Lê Duẩn Street in December 2016. The museum, the only one of its kind in the Central and Central Highlands region, has a total area of 1,100sq.m, displaying 413 donated works by artists from the city and provinces in the region. The centre comprises three spaces for displaying contemporary fine arts, sculpture and paintings, and regular exhibitions.–from Vietnamnews Read more
Next, I had some more errands to run…
….and voila! After cutting, a necessary tool for any nomadpreneur–a stack of contact cards, you know, just in case there’s anyone I want to stay in touch with…you know, for business and such…
…then, we went to the “Big C” superstore for me to get a few items for my hostel stay. We parked on a lower level, and I was presented with a scene like no other:
All in all, it was a great day! Just the sort of educational as well as practical, personalized tour I like! I shared some tour tips and tools with Nhật to help with future marketing of his guide services in the tourism industry, based on the part time tours I give on Saipan!
Days two and three in Da Nang, Vietnam, were simply dedicated to roaming about. (Um, actually, every day of my travels is simply dedicated to roaming about, with an occasional bungee jump or invasive medical procedure or dental visit thrown in to mix things up!)
In any event, a couchsurfing.org contact recommended Ngoc Chi restaurant–which was only 500m from the Stingray Hostel, so I headed out in the light afternoon rain for a walk, found it quite easily and had a quick meal.
I then wandered about town enjoying the atmosphere, taking the pulse of the city, basking in the curious stares and practicing my “xin chào” (“hello” in Vietnamese) and chanced upon a market I later found out was pretty famous:
“Han Market is a significant landmark in Da Nang, having been in operation since the French occupancy in the 1940s. This local market is set within a two-storey building at the grand intersection of Tran Phu Street, Bach Dang Street, Hung Vuong Street and Tran Hung Dao Street, where you can find hundreds of stalls selling an array of local produce, handicrafts, T-shirts, and accessories. It’s very much like a miniature version of Ben Tanh Market central market in Ho Chi Minh City, and even if you aren’t necessarily looking to buy anything it still offers a fascinating glimpse into local life in Da Nang.” —www.vietnam-guide.com
Check out the quick video walk through:
Then, I went to Ngo Restaurant (I had passed it on the way to Ngoc Chi and promised the staff I would return).
Did some more walking about, then headed back to the hostel since the rain had gotten a little heavier.
I found my next day’s destination on Happycow.net where they now have 38 reviews, all positive! Thực Dưỡng Bao Ăn is a macrobiotic restaurant. (Thực Dưỡng Bao Ăn means essentially “food for nutrition”)
The word macrobiotic comes from “macro” which means big and “bios” which means “life”. So, macrobiotics can be also called the art of a great life. Macrobiotics is not actually a diet and it’s more a way of life. It includes also the spiritual part of living and it teaches us to see the bigger picture, to consider the ups and downs in life as gifts given to us in order to become better beings.
One of the important nutrition principles in the macrobiotic diet involves consuming foods that are rich in nutrients and have balanced yin/yang properties. The macrobiotic diet contains foods like whole grains, beans and bean products (like tofu), organic vegetables (local and in season), soups, sea vegetables, desserts (sweetened with rice syrup, barley malt, fruit and sometimes maple syrup), a little fish, a little fruit, pickles, condiments, nuts, seeds and non-aromatic teas. –from gourmandelle.com
Major principles of macrobiotic diets are to reduce animal product, eat locally grown foods that are in season, and consume meals in moderation.
I don’t consider myself a macrobiotic practitioner, but much of the philosophy is consistent with the practices I’ve developed for myself over the years.
I had a chance to film a short video interview with Nga, the owner. She got into macrobiotic food preparation in an attempt to improve her husband’s health. Once she realized the many benefits of this lifestyle, she started the restaurant to share the philosophy and practice with others!
I also met and had a nice long conversation with Rogelio from Cuba, now living in Da Nang!
Note to self: I’ll compile these quick hellos and interviews in a series of videos called “Say Hello to My New Friends!” or something like that… (Important: you have to say it with a Scarface style, Pacino-esque Cuban accent…um, or perhaps I’ll use a less violent reference that won’t offend the pacifist-vegan-macrobiotic crowd, or any real Cubans!)
After my special plane flight to Vietnam, the first order of business: changing my US dollars and Hong Kong dollars into Vietnam Dong. The exchange rate is about 1USD = 23,100dong. I decided I would change only $50US just in case the rates at the airport weren’t that good. I’d change more once I familiarized myself with things here on the ground. With that done, I now had 1.16 million dong in my wallet!
Next, I recruited the assistance of a young lady named Tram who was waiting just outside the airport exit with a passenger’s name on a sign. She was nice enough to call my hostel to verify their location, and then get me a cab from the airport.
The ride ended up costing $100,000dong, which, I later found out was a bit high, but que sera sera!
Mine is a single room on the 3rd floor of the Stingray.
There are 3 other single rooms, and the rest of the accommodations are bunk beds that remind me of photos I’ve seen of the capsule hotels in Japan.
From what I’m told, it’s a fairly new hostel, so occupancy is not that high at the moment. When I checked in, there were only 6 other people checked in, and one was leaving that day. So, pretty much had the whole second floor to myself! Yippee!
The manager and receptionist at Stingray lent me a SIM card, and downloaded a ride sharing app called GRAB–a Vietnam version of Uber–that’s cheaper than a taxi! So, with that vital and valuable tool, I am now able to see Da Nang cheaply and much more easily than I was able to in Macau. This is great! They’ve been very helpful and accommodating! Read more about Stingray Hostel here
Here’s a short video recap:
My first stop was Karma Waters, a vegan restaurant that got great reviews on HappyCow.net!
Then, another Grab cab pulled up and out came a fellow who caught my eye. His name is Ronnie Defour, and turns out he’s a Trinidadian who’s lived in South America as well as the US, and is planning to relocate to Vietnam! He was there at Karma Waters to make a generous donation to one of their community projects! (see details here)
When I first arrived at Karma Waters, there was no one there who spoke English (and, thanks to the helpful officer at the Immigration desk at the airport, my Vietnamese consists only of “hello,” “thank you” and “see you later”). So, the waitress enlisted the help of the owner’s 13-year-old daughter who was in the back. We ended up talking for the duration of my lunch, she showed me her sketch pad of artwork (on the table), added my own sketch to her pad, and due to serious case of camera-shyness, you can make out her forehead behind me in this shot!
Hey look what I found on the KarmaWaters Facebook page! At the same time that Ronnie was discussing his donation with the Karma Waters owner, Ronnie snapped a photo of his table with me in the background with my shy artist!
Among the things I learned during my hours-long lunch is that Karma Waters is more than just a restaurant. They feed the less privileged, give tours to children; organize tours and homestays; offer cooking classes; provide recipes and more! (More at www.karmawaters.com)
I plan to interview Ronnie as well as Grace, the Karma Waters owner, in another post! Stay tuned.
Rearranged the furniture in my windowless dorm room, caught up on some writing, website updating and communications….then called it a night!