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Keep Yourself Alive

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 25, 2017

April 10 – 16, 2017

The Da Nang dragon spits water on the people to cool them down.

Keep Yourself Alive

Mark and I left the resort at Hue beach. It took about half an hour to check-out and wait for a taxi to the train station. We sat in the heat willing the air-conditioned taxi to come pick us up as quickly as possible. When the cab came we were disappointed to be seated in a car with the windows rolled down.

“Well, hopefully the train station will be air-conditioned,” I thought.

Was it?

Nope.

We sat in the hotbox that was the waiting area of the Hue train station. There were fans, but there were too few of them and they were all set to low. They did have a placebo effect on some commuters who angled themselves to sit in the fan’s faint breeze. But, when I tested it out, I felt nothing.

After 45 minutes of sitting in the hot waiting area the doors to the platforms were opened. We stood near the tracks to do some more waiting. “Surely,” I thought, “the train will have air con.”

It did, sort of. The normally hot air was cooled to slightly too warm. Mark and I squeezed into our seats and tried to think cool thoughts. I didn’t drink much of anything to avoid having to use the bathroom on the train. But having a drink, even a room temperature soda, would have helped me to stay cool during the 3 hour train ride.

By the time the train pulled into the Da Nang train station I was feeling very unwell. My backpack felt heavier than normal and standing up was too much effort. Mark found a taxi, or rather, a taxi driver found Mark and delivered us to our hotel.

Once in our hotel room with the air conditioning on, I took one of the free bottles of water on top the mini fridge. Because I started to feel better after drinking water and sitting in a cool room, Mark and I concluded that I was probably dehydrated.

In Vietnam, the most popular type of bottled water is mineral water. Many times, when looking for water at a convenience store, that’s the only type being sold. I hate mineral water. I much prefer spring water since it has no taste. So when I have mineral water, I tend not to drink as much of it as I would spring flavorless water.

I think that here, spring water is considered “cheap” and that mineral water is the top-tier water type. Mineral water costs more in the stores. When you get a free bottle of water on buses, in hotel rooms, and on tours, it’s always spring water.

My dehydration made me think about being more responsible about my health. If I were sick at home, I’d just stay at home. It’s not a big deal as long as I still have “sick days” left at work. But on vacation, I’m paying to stay in a hotel. I’m paying for food. I’m not getting paid from a job. A sick day is a waste day. So I need to make sure I have as few “sick vacation days” as possible.

Mineral Water Alternatives

Here is my wellness list:

  1. Drink enough water.
    • If the water tastes funny, either drink it anyway or drink something else.
      • DO NOT drink tap water in Vietnam.
    • Drink juice, drink all your soup, eat juicy fruits.
    • Carry a coffee tumbler with water and put the ice from your drinks into it. Now you have cold water.
  2. Eat Fruit (bananas) & Vegetables Order dishes with lots of green leafy vegetables in them.
    • Go to a grocer’s and buy fruit.
    • No matter where you go you will always find bananas and they will be the cheapest fruit. Eat them; they’re good for you.
      • They keep you regular.
      • If your accommodations come with a free breakfast, chances are you will get an unlimited supply of bananas in the morning.
  1. Look where you’re stepping.
    • Walking down the street in Vietnam is like walking along an obstacle course. Watch out all the time!
    • Be extra careful when it rains.
      • Many businesses like to use marble tiles in front of their buildings and it gets really slippery!
  2. Look both ways before crossing the street.
    • Then continue to look both ways as you cross.
    • Cross with other people when you can.
    • Watch out for drivers going the wrong way on a street.
    • Watch out for scooters driving on the sidewalks.
    • Watch out for scooters driving indoors. (Yes, this does happen occasionally.)
  3. Wash your hands, often.
    • This is one of the best ways to prevent a cold.
    • Bring your own soap with you.
    • Wash your hands before you eat.
  4. Get your shots. (For Vietnam)
    • Hepatitis A & B; Tetanus; Typhoid.
    • Other vaccines to consider: Cholera; Japanese Encephalitis; Diphtheria;

Mark showing off how healthy he is

It took me a few days to recover from my dehydration. Until I got used to the heat, I had to make sure I was indoors from 10:30 to 16:00 every day. The heat really zapped my energy and even my thinking slowed down when I stayed out too long during the hotter parts of the day.

Our first hotel was chosen because it boasted a 5 minute walk to the beach. We tried it. It was not a 5 minute walk. Well, maybe it used to be, before a huge 5-star resort parked itself between the hotel and the beach. Now, tourists have to pay to enter or walk around. And our hotel really needs to stop advertising itself as close to the beach.

You can almost see the beach from here.

We started to walk around the resort only to find another resort, and another, and another. There was just resorts after resorts all along the road. Where there wasn’t a resort there was a construction site for a new resort. All in all, the “5-minute” walk to the beach was a 35 minute walk.

I couldn’t handle that. Even after drinking lots of water and staying in the shade as much as possible it was too much for me. By the time I got to the beach I would have a throbbing headache and feel over tired and dizzy.

Once at the beach, the water didn’t look that great. The sea looked rough for most of the day. In the mornings, when the beach was calmer, it was crowded. Actually, it was crowded, though less so, at other parts of the day too.

We changed hotels. We found one across the street from our “5 minutes to the beach” hotel. We weren’t any closer to the beach, but our new hotel had a pool. We stayed in for most of the day, swimming in the pool.

1 bowl of pho = 1 USD

In the evenings we would walk along the beach sightseeing and finding cheap places to eat. Da Nang beach has many lovely cheap places to eat. But, none of them are near the beach. You have to walk down back alleys or go away from the beach. The street our hotels were on had many nice, inexpensive places to eat.


Vietnam
(Việt Nam)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, train, boat, or bus.
  • Make sure to get a visa before going to Vietnam. Although some nationals can get a visa at the border for a few days, many cannot or will need a visa for longer stays.
    • Visit the Vietnamese embassy in your country to get a visa.
    • Or you can apply for a visa online if you do not live near an embassy or consulate.
    • Remember if you enter Vietnam on a single entry visa then leave, you must wait 30 days before returning to Vietnam on another visa.

Phone:

Website:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Don’t worry if you cannot get Vietnamese dong from your local bank back home. You can get your dong at the bank in Vietnam. (DO NOT get money at the airport. You will never get a good rate. Use an ATM/bank.) Don’t get too much; no one will buy it back from you. Many hotels, fancy restaurants, and tour agents will take US dollars or Euros. Though who knows what exchange rate they will use? You will need dong for taxis, small shops, and local restaurants and vendors.
  • When you get to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh pick up a map of the area from any hotel, hostel, travel agency, or tourist information center. Once you have one of those you’ll be able to find anything.
  • Having a map of the area in Hanoi is very important. Every block has a different street name so once you know the name of street something is on you can easily find it with a map.
  • Wherever you choose to stay, make sure you bring a picture and the address of the hotel. One common trick that taxi and motorbike-taxi drivers like to pull is to take you to the wrong hotel. When you say, “I asked for ABC Hotel!” They will tell you that the name changed. They usually get a commission for bringing tourist to certain hotels.
    • Sometimes hotels do change names. But most likely a hotel will not change names between the time of your booking accommodations and your arrival without telling you.
    • Also, asking the average Joe on the street for ABC hotel will do nothing. Locals don’t stay in hotels, so they don’t remember hotel names. But Mr. Joe will know where 123 Hanoi St. is.
  • Also for taxis, NEVER agree to a flat rate fee. The flat rate fee will always be way higher than it should be. Always demand that the cab driver use the meter. If he doesn’t want to use his meter, get out. Taxi drivers are a dime a dozen. This is true in most countries.
  • For motorbike taxis, settle on the cost of the ride before getting on. Ask fellow travelers for advice on how much a ride should cost.
  • Watch out for cyclo drivers that claim not to have change as a way to get more money out of you. If you need to, wait for one of those fruit vendors to come along and buy something from her to make change. You really should ask the cost to your destination and make sure you have exact change before you get in the cyclo. 
  • It’s best not to say anything bad about Ho Chi Minh while in Vietnam. He is still very much loved by his people.
  • There are companies that charge 10USD to take you from Hanoi to the airport. They are all around Hanoi. Use one of those instead of jumping into a random cab.

Asia Park

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 16.039287, 108.228556

Address:

  • 1 Phan Đăng Lưu, Hòa Cường Bắc, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam

Phone:

  • +84 236 3681 666

Websites:

Cost:

  • 300,000 d – Non-Vietnamese adult
    • Sometimes, they charge foreigners 300,000 and sometimes they do not.
  • 200,000 d – Vietnamese adult

Hours:

  • 15:30 – 22:00 Daily

Notes:

  • The park is mostly empty.
  • Sometimes you have to wait for enough people to get a ride started.
  • The food inside is mediocre, but not expensive.
  • Not all the rides are completed.
  • Some rides are under repair.

Dragon Bridge
(Cầu Rồng)

How to get there

  • Coordinates 16.061210, 108.227019

Websites:

Cost:

  • free

Hours:

  • Every Saturday and Sunday at 9PM
  • It changes colors for about a hour.
  • The fire breathing and water spitting lasts for about 10 minutes.

Notes:

  • I recommend taking a taxi here if you don’t know exactly where to go.
  • There are lots of food vendors in the area where everyone watches the bridge.
  • Enjoy the horrible talent show while you wait for things to get started.

Map:

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