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These are a few of my favorite things...

...in Mui Ne as of 2 Nov 2008

sunny 29 °C
View Southeast Asia on kmpossible's travel map.

Our guest house, Nam Khai, is very clean and the staff is friendly. The front desk guy, Kahn, is really sweet. We've borrowed glasses (for local RUM! and coke) and spoons (for cereal and yogurt), and had our laundry done (for about $2) - they've been incredibly accommodating. My advise though is to do your laundry yourself...the detergent smells like dirty feet! Other than that, our experience has been top shelf.

SNOW - located 3 doors down from the hotel. Wifi with purchase - fantastic Long Cosmopolitan and beer, but the food was disappointing for the money. Sushi was OK, but not what I would expect for spending that kind of dime. They have black lights in the inner lounge, which will be fantastic this weekend with our practice poi.

WAX Bar and Restaurant. If you're hungry, the club sandwich fills a hole. The fries are out of a bag, but ok as well. Shrimp tempora is a great drunk food! (or hangover food) Good atmosphere and sometimes good music...check out the fire dancers on Saturday night...I may be joining them this Saturday! =)

Mellow Guest House and Restaurant. Breakfast breakfast breakfast! Scrambled eggs are great, as is the muesli with yogurt and fruit. Omelets are good, too. Today we had lunch there (it was our breakfast, as it was 11:30am and we had JUST woken up!). I had a club sandwich and Mike had a burger. Burger was average and club was good - chips were hand made and quite good. Ask for mayonnaise if you like it like that.

New restaurant across from Nam Khai with really outgoing front-girl. Seriously, if you walk by in the evening, she'll be there to lasso you and to outline the entire menu. If you can get past feeling overwhelmed, stay for the fresh catch BBQ fish, squid and shrimp. Just go to the front counter that says "Fresh BBQ" and point out what you want. It comes with garlic rice, and one small fish with 6 shrimp was plenty for Mike and I for dinner. They bring fruit as a desert included with the meal. Very good food, incredibly friendly service.

Liquor store 2 doors down from Nam Khai, same side of the street. A lovely woman works there, and she usually gives you a free water or something to go along with your purchase - we've been enjoying the RUM! She may base this free item on your total purchase, so don't take my word as gospel. But if you're in there, might as well get a couple bottles, as they're the cheapest we've seen along the beach strip. 2 doors north of Nam Khai on the same side of the street.

We have about 3 more weeks here, so watch this space for additions!

Sending love and peace,

Posted by kmpossible 08:23 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Mui Ne Beach, round 2

…go on, eat the fish eyes.

semi-overcast 31 °C
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Since our arrival at Mui Ne Beach 4 days ago, Candy, Mike and I have seen more than Mike and I saw in 2 weeks last time around. It was also peeing down rain last time, so maybe that’s why. It’s still a little rainy and overcast, but the forecast looks good this weekend for some wind! Fingers crossed, people!

Looking for a hotel the first day was a fun little chore. The three of us slid into a taxi and headed toward the south end of the beach in order to saunter our way back to the north, stopping in each hotel to ask price and availability of the rooms. The range seems to be about $10 - $80/night, of the hotels we saw. We opted for the nice, simple room with A/C, hot water and mini fridge for $10/night at Nam Khai Guest House, just across the street from Wax, the bar where we spent most of our time last time – drinking Tiger beer and waiting for the rain to stop.

After finding and securing our rooms for the next night, we crossed the street and headed out to the beach for a wander back to our old hotel, the Hoang Kim Golden Resort, which is located pretty far to the north of the kiting beach – too long to trudge every day in the heat with the kites! Plus, they’re doing construction on all the rooms on the first floor, so we were woken up at 8am both days we were there. It took us about an hour to get to the hotel on foot…in the sand…and the heat…phew!

It was a lovely intro back into Mui Ne life, and speaking of lovely intros, I was lucky enough to get to share an introductory yoga lesson with my friend Candy later that night in the soft glow of the pool. I bought an audio yoga CD by Janet Stone (she teaches at Yoga Tree in San Francisco), which I synced to my iPod. Plug the iPod into portable speakers, place by the pool, and ta-da… instant yoga class! Candy did swimmingly as a first-timer, and I greatly enjoyed sharing the experience with her. Yoga has been central to healing in my life. Whether sharing the class with one or tens of people, or just on my own, yoga centers me, is my moving meditation, keeps me in touch with what really matters to me. It also happens to be a great workout. My and Candy’s session was intensified by the presence of one very large bat. Yes, I said BAT! While holding a pose as we faced the pool, he skimmed the water 3 or 4 times in search of bugs….that or he was scoping out who would be liberated of their blood, Candy or me!!! A few minutes later, I heard a commotion above my head and off to the right a little, looked over, and in the light of the pool just his head was visible – the rest of him was attached by his feet to the overhang of one of the first floor bungalows. He screeched. And screeched again. My heart rate shot up and I wondered if we should haul ass or brave the beast lurking in half-light, lusting after our blood. Then I wondered if the mosquito repellant I had nearly drowned myself in prior to our meditation worked on bats, too. Then I realized that this is real yoga, maintaining calm in the midst of calamity. Meanwhile, back at the ranch…. Don’t take my word for it, but citronella must be an effective repellant of bloodthirsty winged spawn of Satan…he just dangled there like a cling-on while we finished. Walking through the arboretum on our way back to our rooms, the bat dive-bombed us, and then fluttered through the front restaurant and off into the night. We returned to our rooms, unscathed.

The restaurant across from our hotel (as you’re standing at Hoang Kim, slightly to the left and across the street) was the location of a fantastic dinner that night. Fresh foil-steamed fish, rice and veggies, and Candy and I each had a fresh coconut, which contained lots more juice than I expected. Our hostess, Chin, was very attentive and kept picking more and more fish off the carcass in front of us and piling it onto our plates. Unfortunately Mike seemed to get mostly bones! Chin spoke English very well, so we chatted with her through most of the meal. I asked her how long she had worked at the restaurant, and she said that she didn’t work there, that she owned the travel agency next door. She noticed that her neighbors were very busy and volunteered to help them…how sweet! She then grabbed the eye out of the fish on the plate in front of me with her chopsticks and said, “Eating fish eyes makes your vision better!” and proceeded to plunk it down on my plate. Being an adventurous creature, I said, “Well…..uuhhhhh…..ok!” I picked up the eyeball with my chopsticks, gave it the once-over, and placed it in my mouth. Biting down was not the thing to do…I should have just swallowed…what was I thinking!!!??? It was pretty hard, I think I was gnawing on its lens, with very little aqueous/vitreous humor – it was very dry, so I chewed a few times and tried to swallow the bits. It really didn’t taste of anything, just had an odd texture, and I couldn’t stop the feeling of a fish eye swimming around and looking at the inside of my stomach.

The next day we rented bikes to ride to the fishing village about 10 miles north of the beach.


As far as I can tell, the whole stretch is called Mui Ne. I don’t think any of us have been on a bike in a very long time. That being said, none of us crashed or was hit by a speeding passenger bus the entire time! All along this road, there are houses, food stalls, moped repair, clothing, snack shops and stunning views of red sand dunes on one side, and the South China Sea on the other.

The fishing boats were fun to see…they all seem to be similar. There are small bowl-shaped rowboats that they use to paddle out to the big boats, and then they moor the smaller boat while they go out fishing, which seems to be mostly at night or in the wee hours of the morning.


We ran into a few local girls selling trinkets, and they followed us all the way down the steep steps to the water, holding our hands and touting their wares.


They were so sweet, and spoke English quite well. I asked one of the girls, Jae, where she learned English, if it was in school. She said she didn’t go to school, and that she was taught by a tourism agency. I’ve heard that school isn’t free, so those who can’t afford to pay go to the streets to sell trinkets etc to tourists…seems so sad to me, but they seemed very happy and chatty, and they seemed to all be good friends. As we were getting back on our bikes, it looked to me like they were pooling the money they made from us and dividing it.

That night to reward ourselves for all our efforts during the bike ride, we proceeded to get tipsy at the bar called WAX.


The next day, dangling by the thread of a hangover, we three booked a jeep tour of the nearby white and red sand dunes. We learned that if you’ve seen one sand dune, you’ve seen them all. The sky was particularly wild with pre-storm plumes of white fluffy cumulonimbi, which made for some majestic photos of the landscape. See the photo gallery for more pics.


The nearby Lake of Tears was full of reeds and lotus flowers, and the ponies used for tours on the dunes were cooling themselves in the water, some almost invisible under the water with just their heads poking up out of the water.


The Fairy Stream was the highlight of the tour, a stream that runs through a chasm of red and white sand and lush greenery and tropical flowers.


We waded through the ankle-calf deep water for about 30 minutes, and then headed back to the jeep to continue the tour. This was actually the first stop, followed by the white dunes, the red canyon, and the red dunes. Here’s a photo of the red canyon.


We ended our day with a drink at SNOW, an uber-cool sushi restaurant next door to our hotel – soft blue lights and plush, white décor. They happen to have wifi, so we brought the computers and had a tech moment. Later, back at the hotel, we hung out in Candy’s room before heading off to dreamland…saying goodbye to Candy was sad. It was great fun having her around, but hopefully she’ll be back this way before Saigon. If not, I plan on meeting her in Saigon for a couple days before she goes back to the US.

Yesterday was a very low-key day, as we topped up our tans on the beach, practiced poi, and had a light and early dinner before retiring to our room for rum & coke and 3 more episodes of Battlestar Galactica (not the 1970s version)…if you haven’t seen it, it’s a great series!

Today after breakfast, as the rain eased off, I jumped into a cab and headed out to the local hospital to see if I could arrange a tour and possibly some volunteer work. To my dismay, it seems to be a tourist hospital, triaging toe injuries and drunken head traumas. It was actually very quiet with only one patient getting a toe bandaged. I met the Traditional Physician, Vo, who had many local acupuncture patients coming in about ½ hour, so I waited and was able to observe his practice. It was fascinating to see. He had 2 patients on tables in separate rooms, and about 6 more in the waiting room. He sees about 15 – 20 patients per day, a decrease from 50 per day since moving here from nearby Phan Tiet. Despite our language barriers, we were able to communicate somehow, and it was a very enjoyable experience. He was surprised at the length of study I am about to embark on in the field of Natural Medicine – 6 years. I still am not sure if he was able to gather that I am about to start my studies, not just finishing them. He showed me his acupuncture book, which looked like it was hundreds of years old – it was beautiful. I was touched by his eagerness to share his practice with me, as well as his patients' willingness to allow me in the treatment rooms with them.

Posted by kmpossible 06:27 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Indonesia, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

A list of my favorite places.

sunny 29 °C

Sanur, Bali:
1. Ananda Beach Hotel & Restaurant – get room #6 or 7
2. Grilled sweet corn on the beach, north end
3. The Village, Italian restaurant on Tamblingan
4. Spirit Café, on the beach, free WiFi with purchase
5. Mango Café, on the beach, good food, really tough to get the bill
6. Bennos, on the beach, great chicken & coconut milk soup
7. Randy’s, restaurant on Tamblingan, best place for breakfast other than the Ananda
8. Picadilly’s International Pub and Restaurant, on Tamblingan, great pizza, fabulous guitar player, Agus on Monday nights
9. 6 Point Café on Tamblingan
10. Little Pond Homestay, on Tamblingan, clean comfortable room, very inexpensive, friendly staff
11. Circle K, Magnum ice cream bars & PopMie noodles, baby! On Tamblingan.
12. Chinese place across from the Hyatt on Tamblingan (can’t remember the name)

Gili Meno

Jimboran, dinner on the beach watching the sunset

Posted by kmpossible 23:15 Archived in Indonesia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

And we're BACK!

...from Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan

sunny 32 °C
View The Gilis & Southeast Asia on kmpossible's travel map.

Today we arrived back in Sanur from the Gilis, and while the trip was lovely, it's always nice to come home! We've been here so long now, it really does feel like home. While away, Mike and I stayed mostly on Gili Meno, the quietest of the three tiny islands off the northwest coast of Lombok. To get there, we hired the GiliCat for $120 round-trip; it's a super-fast boat with 900 horses under the hood. Actually they weren't really under anything, they just sort of hang off the back of the boat. It took us a mere hour to cross the Indian Ocean to our destination, though we were a bit worse for wear when we arrived.

The trip started at 7am when the van arrived at our hotel to pick us up, and we were whisked away to the port at Padang Bai here in Bali, an hour drive. We had a quick and disappointing croissant near the pier and then scooted on down to board the boat. We took off across a glassy bay and headed out into the extremely choppy waters of the Indian Ocean, or Indy, as I like to call her. One of the crew members gave us what I think were instructions on how to jump from the boat...eek! The command had to come from the ship's captain, and the command was "jump jump jump"! Phew! Glad he explained that one.

Indy was angry that day, and after 10 minutes of rising and falling with a bang back onto the water (we caught air several times), all the passengers had fallen silent. A French family was seated in the row at the back of the boat, where most of the action was, and being right in front of them, I could see that the 3 children who were playing video games and giggling when we pulled out of the bay were now white as ghosts. Surprisingly, no one was handing out barf bags. That was one of few thoughts circling my head throughout the duration of the trip. It went something like this: 'I feel a little sick. Wish I hadn't eaten that croissant. I don't have a barf bag, what if I have to get sick? Uuugh, I feel a little sick. What if we have to jump? I don't have a barf bag.'

So we arrive with everyone still in possession of their breakfasts, myself included. We didn't have to jump, which was good, too. Gili Trawangan is the drop off point for the Gilis - there are three, and Trawangan is the one to the left of the dot that is Meno, and Air is to the right between Meno and Lombok. To get from the GiliCat to the beach, we all had to pile out and into another lower, slimmer boat with one puny outboard motor and loose planks across the floor. All the luggage was piled in after us, and the small boat did a U-turn, and backed into the beach. I think the small boat was actually longer than the distance between the GiliCat and the beach – it was one of the more ridiculous things I’ve seen on this trip. It did however serve as much needed comic relief after our near-barfing experience.

We decided to vacate Trawangan as quickly as possible because it's touted as the "party island", and that means it's crawling with folks learning how to handle their first beer, or as Trawangan would have it, smoky smoky or mushrooms or some combination of those 3 things. So we chartered a boat to Meno and were there in less than 30 minutes, including price-negotiation time! Gili Meno is quite small, as I mentioned in the previous entry. There are no motor vehicles on the islands, although we did see 3 little boys riding the smallest ATV I’ve ever seen…it was really cute. The only form of overland transport is the cidomo or pony-drawn carriage. I estimate that 80% of these ponies are in good condition, the other 20% were really pathetic, under nourished, dirty sad little creatures. It was actually quite upsetting to see, and I boycotted the cidomo during our stay.

We stayed at the Royal Reef Resort. I’m not exactly sure what the official definition of “resort” is, but I have a feeling the term is used metaphorically in this instance. There were 8 bungalows on the beach, all with cold saltwater showers. The bungalows were on stilts, while the bathroom was on ground level, which meant there were about 5 really steep, slippery tile steps descending into the bathroom. Good thing I’m off the Cazadores, or I’d probably have slipped and fallen headlong into the toilet after a night of drinking! I was pleasantly surprised to find electricity and a working fan in the room. The price of the room included breakfast, which was very simple, but pretty good. Much to our dismay, our rooster followed us to Meno. There are about 10 chickens to every person on the island it seems – they’re EVERYWHERE! It seems there’s no escaping the rooster on this trip. Wasn’t that an Alice in Chains song? Anyway, here are some pics of Meno:
Anyway, we took our new snorkeling masks and fins with us, and were all geared up for some snorkeling and lying around on the beach. Near our hotel on the east side of the island, jelly fish is what we found a lot of the first time out, and we both got stung quite a few times – Mike claims to have been stung by a Portuguese man-of-war. ;-) We found that the further north we went the less jelly fish there were, and on the west side, there were loads more fish to see, and we even got to swim with a sea turtle – it was huge! We saw lots of batfish and angelfish, and tons of blue fish and stripy colorful fish (not sure what they’re called). Unfortunately, on day 2, our waterproof camera/video camera went on the blink. (That’s the one we’ve been taking videos with from the kitecam.) We got one day’s worth of marine life photos & video, including an amazing chocolate chip cookie starfish. He looked like he was made of dough. How do I know it was a ‘he’ you ask? I checked!


Heading home, we did the boat thing again, but in reverse. We spent one night in Trawangan so we wouldn’t have to get up so early to boat over from Meno and then catch the GiliCat. Trawangan is a bit of a nightmare. Everywhere you go people are lurking in dark corners asking you if you want “smoky smoky” or magic mushrooms. In fact, quite a few of the cafés there had boards in front advertising “magic mushrooms, guaranteed to blow your mind”. There was a really skeevy vibe to the place, and we were ecstatic to leave the next morning. While waiting for the boat to arrive, we saw the saddest pony I’ve ever seen. He was skin and bones, and the cart he was pulling had rubbed his withers raw, and they were bloody. The owner didn’t seem to notice or mind, though I noticed several other tourists pointing and balking. It made me quite sick to my stomach, and brought tears to my eyes. I had to move nearer the water to avoid seeing any more. On the light side though, the night before, we saw a momma cat giving birth! It was so cool! Some silly chick was taking pictures…one for a wall hanging? Eeeek.

Posted by kmpossible 06:30 Archived in Indonesia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

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