Cycling into the Setting Sun

Nha Trang, January 2nd 2011

Back from that strange tour, we still had plenty of time before boarding Vietnam Airlines to Sai Gon. Wiwik read in her guide book about a souvenir shop near the harbor that sold anything made from shells. I asked her whether she and Gabe would be interested to go there. Nope. Gabe was more interested in continuing his game on Wiwik's iPad.

Since it's only me, I went to the front desk at our hotel, Lamy Hotel, and rented a bike, for the second time. It's 20,000 VND an hour. Okaylah. Let's go!

Yeah! It's me, Nokia, and Nha Trang, on the bike! I left EOS at the hotel for I didn't want to burden my cycling, especially when going up the hill.

From the first time I came, I was already impressed by these cubical and cylindrical trees.

Behind there is the beach. So clean and fresh, isn't it? If only I don't have to work in an office 5 days a week, I can picture myself spending a week or two in Nha Trang, just sitting by the beach with a book and a bottle of Vietnamese coffee.

And... suddenly! Somebody on a bike also, broke into my sight! It was that noisy Vietnamese girl again! As all the time she had been, she was laughing loudly with her friend. Oh, no! I'm A-blood-type. I must move on!

I cycled to the beach and rode on the pedestrian road. It reminded me of cycling in Nusa Dua, Bali. But that nostalgic feeling didn't last long. In front of me were two men in green uniform walking. Before I could decide whether to ring the bell or not, they turned around. One of them held my steering wheel. Ooopsss!

My heart stopped. Do they think that this is a stolen bicycle?? The other pointed to the main road on the left side with his club. I looked at his direction. What?? He is telling me to go there and make arrangements with them over there by the side of the street?? (Ah, if they could read my mind they would know that I'm from Indonesia.)

The one who held my steering wheel read my face (but not my mind, I suppose). "No here!" he said.

His friend once again pointed to the main road with his club.

"You mean I may not ride a bicycle here?"

They nodded.

"Okay, I'm sorry." I started to pedal again.

Once again the officer held my steering wheel. "No here!!" This time louder.

Actually I didn't mean not to obey them at all. I thought that crossing the grass would be improper. So I meant to follow the path that led to the main road. Now how can I get there?

I got off the bike. "I understand. I want to go there." I tried to explain while pointing to the main road.

The officer let loose my steering wheel. So I pushed my bike along the pedestrian. When I was by the side of the road, I turned back. The officers weren't in sight. Phew! No wonder I saw a bicycle parking lot near the pedestrian road where I started just now. But there was no sign at all. If there was but in Vietnamese, well... don't blame me.

Now I make it a habit to look around what people are doing before doing something myself. I've already made sure that people were cycling on this path. Okay, clear. Next, I saw some men taking pictures of this building. Okay, clear again. I made my shot also. This building to me reminds me of City Hall in Sai Gon.

It was a pleasant evening. Some people were flying kites. But then I remembered my main purpose: the souvenir shop that sells everything made from sea shells. It's on the very opposite direction. It's next to the oceanology museum, Wiwik said.

The oceanology museum is just several meters away from the harbor. Nearing Bao Dai's summer palace the road started to ascend. I gave all my best until I neared the peak. Wow... ! I pushed my knees harder. As you must know, no matter how high, the toughest part is always just right before getting on the peak. I prayed so that the angels would push me and bring me to the peak. I didn't dare to stop and get off the bike for I did so while cycling in Japan and I fell. I assumed that I didn't press the brake hard enough when I got off. Hence,  gravitation pulled the bike down, and the weight of the bike in my hands pulled me along, downwards.
"Come one, Shuni! You can!" I said to myself.

And... at last I got myself on the peak. Now I'm descending. Oh, what a relief!

Then on the left side of the street I saw 2 girls in Ao Dai dress walking uphill while guiding their bicycles by the hand. Suddenly it occurred to me how stupid I had been. Who required me to cycle uphill? This isn't a race. Even the locals, who maybe pass this street everyday, walk uphill while guiding their bicycles by the hand instead of riding on it. Am I stronger than the locals or what?

Nevertheless, I couldn't find that souvenir shop. I sought around until the harbor. Nothing looked like a souvenir shop selling stuffs made of sea shells. I called Wiwik, but there was no answer. Okay... so I headed back. I saw a motorcycle got into a skid in the middle of the street covered with sand obviously dragged from the seashore. The rider fell off his motorcycle. Luckily there wasn't any other vehicle passing by. And then the rider got up, got on his motorcycle, and started to drive on. But... he skidded again, and fell down again. What surprised me was that there were people enjoying their cup of coffee, their pho bo, just sitting in front of their shop enjoying the sea breeze... there were people, but no one came over to help the motorcycle rider up. I looked around. Nobody seemed to pay the least attention.

On my way back, I was smarter. I didn't pedal my bike uphill, but instead walked uphill while guiding my bike by the hand. Meanwhile the day turned a bit darker, but the sky turned glorious.

This is the direct opposite side of the beach.

Ah... Nokia, I love you! I don't have to burden my neck while cycling this far up and down the hill, but I still can capture the glorious evening sky which I always adore.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I might get a better view from Lamy Hotel's rooftop. So I cycled in haste fearing that the glory of the sky would fade away. In front of the hotel an old man told me to park my bike in the basement as I told that I was still using the bike. Then I ran upstairs to the lobby, snatched EOS 50D from my backpack, and then to the elevator hoping that the front desk staffs won't ask me anything for I've actually already checked out. I don't have time to explain and moreover I don't think any of them would understand my motivation. 

"Ping!" the elevator door opened and no one questioned me. Number 7 was the biggest number to press. On the 7th floor I found a corridor of rooms. Ah, there must be a rooftop or such, I said to myself. I searched around.

Yes! There's a staircase. Up, up! Hurry up! And... yeah!! Open air and there lies the city of Nha Trang beneath. Apparently it was a place to hang laundy. But... the place was encircled with trellis of diamond motif.

Once again, Nokia, I love you so much! I put both hands through the trellis while holding Nokia N86 tightly. Tara! I got it!
No trellis is blocking the view for this is a photo taken outside the trellis. Yayyy!!

Let me give you another angle! That's the city of Nha Trang beneath!! It's a city that spreads just along the beach. Remember the Ferris Wheel?

I searched for the widest hole on the trellis. Ah... got one! I stuck my EOS 50D tight to the trellis as tight as I held my breath. Shoot!!

See? The difference in the result is not too significant compared to the one made by Nokia N86, isn't it?

I tried another shot with EOS. Later on I cropped the sides that had trellis crossing over the frame.

Suddenly I heard footsteps climbing up the stairs. Oh no, what should I say? I decided to keep my lens on the trellis to proof that I'm there just to take pictures.

A woman showed up. I smiled at her and she smiled back. Then she walked to the laundry room. I sighed.

Since there was still plenty of time before the flight to Sai Gon, I continued cycling. I started to be thinking about food. Hmmm... I want something European...

This was a small but cozy restaurant. At the backside there was a table set under open air facing their petit backyard. Well... "le petit" means "small". So they have said it.

A young man was sitting at that table with his laptop open. It seemed that he had been sitting there since forever. Ah... if I had plenty of time, I would have done the same. Is there anything better than a European meal accompanied by a cup of Vietnamese coffee, a laptop, and free WiFi?

85,000 dongs was very worth the taste. Errr... 85,000 dongs including coffee, of course ;-)

I liked everything about this restaurant, but the time needed to be served. I had to remind the seeming Vietnamese Franco lady again and again that I had a flight to catch.

When I left, that young guy at the petit backyard was still in his solitary moment.

My mind was still lingering on food. Time for dessert.

No, it's not the hotel. It's the ice cream parlor. Ice cream: my favorite dessert ever since I first knew about dessert.
This is the name and address of the ice cream parlor which is on the first floor of Ha Van Hotel.

20,000 dongs. Once again, very worth the taste. It's rhum raisin ice cream. It tasted like homemade ice cream.

Satisfied, I returned back to Lamy Hotel and paid 60,000 dongs for the 3 hours bicycle rent. I didn't get to find the souvenir shop, but it was after all my best moment in Nha Trang.

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