2016 Tet Holiday

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    Sometimes, you just gotta make the most out of a situation...
    6 am, Thursday February 11, 2016, I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock and started my day happily and excited for our 2-day, 2 night trip to Can Tho province of Vietnam to see and experience the Floating Market. Everything went well according to plan... almost -- I arrived at the meeting place on time, got to buy breakfast at Starbucks, met my friend, and waited peacefully at the tour agency office for the bus. A little later, I noticed that all the buses from the neighboring tour agencies have left at the stroke of 7:30 am, but our bus to Can Tho province had not even arrived yet. And so after inquiry, we were told that the “group” will leave at 8 am -- I could not see any other person for this trip but me and my friend... although a week ago when we booked this tour, I was hoping we would be the only ones who will go to Can Tho so that there would be s sense of exclusiveness; however, after the delay, I got a feeling that this trip could be cancelled if we were the only ones who will be transported to Can Tho -- lo and behold, I was right!! The tour agency offered another tour for us where we could join 5 other tourists bound to Mekong Delta; however, both my friend and I were not interested, and so to cut the story short, our trip was cancelled and the payment refunded. At 8 am, we found ourselves stuck in Saigon with backpack filled with clothes for 1 night and some snacks. What to do now? First move: go to another agency and check for related tours. We managed to find one Cai Be Tour, but after the honest feedback from the owner, that there may not be anything to see in the river because of the holiday, we decided to let go of this trip. Imagine my dismay -- I waited 1 week for this day, no actually, for one and a half year since I came to Vietnam, and all of a sudden it is being elusive to me -- what a let down.
    And so we considered other options... bird sanctuary somewhere west of Saigon (3 day tour), Nha Trang (6 hour drive or so), etc., etc., but the only accessible place to us at the moment was Vung Tau -- which I had visited twice already, not to mention one of the only 2 places I had gone to in my >1 year in Vietnam. I was sad.
    And so, we agreed to go there that day, and just to make it a little more exciting and new, we decided to go by boat (like a cruise). But that day seems to be a quilt of mishaps sewn altogether in a single day -- arriving at the port at past 9 am, we were given a boat ride for 1 pm as all hourly departures in the morning were already “full;” yet after waiting for more than 3 hours, our boat left at 1 pm sharp without us, as we arrived at the gate 10 mins late! Fortunately, the ticketing personnel were kind enough to replace our tickets for a 2 pm departure -- and for the second time around, we made sure this boat will not leave without us!
    2 pm, we boarded the boat, but it left 2:30 pm. I felt a sense of irony. But the view was quite exotic, so natural, relaxing... it was a good boat ride. We arrived at Vung Tau port in Ha Long Street at around 4 pm -- with no itinerary, no hotel, no nothing. A real backpacking adventure. The masterplan -- swim in the beach, spend the night, and walk around (as my friend had never been to Vung Tau). So upon arriving, the first thing I did was to ask which way to go to Captain Saint Jacques’s Hotel, as this was the landmark I have good memory of from my first visit to Vung Tau. I thought it would be a good jumpstart point.
    And so we walked along Ha Long Street to the direction of Thuy Van Street while scouting for cheaper accommodations, and after 10-min walk, we managed to find one. With accommodation all set, we then planned to go to the beach front in Thuy Van and spend the afternoon there. However, when we left the hotel, just in front of it we saw many people in the water, despite the rocky nature and strong breakwaters in the shores of Ha Long Street. I checked out the place -- it looked pretty safe no commotion whatsoever -- thus, I dove in among the locals and enjoyed the place like the rest. It was great, the trip was turning out fine, happiness restored. A little later, I saw a caucasian guy wearing a surfing top, also going for a dip, and when our paths crossed, I asked if he knows any good surfing spots and shops in Vung Tau. He referred me to the Vung Tau Beach Club, which later on became my new landmark in Vung Tau. A few minutes later, sunset fell and I just had a real beautiful sunset experience -- the sun was nearly touching the water in the horizon, distinctly round and beautifully red, and I watched while I was being swayed by the currents of the water -- that’s another new for me. This experience now ranks second to my Santa Monica-Venice sunset walk in California.
    In the evening, we once again attempted to walk to Thuy Van beach front (Saint-Jacques Hotel area), but it was just so far that we ended up just off Ha Long street, sitting by the sidewalk munching fishballs and savoring the cool, relaxing breeze by the beach -- that was how our dinner went, backpacker style.
    Next agenda, Day 2: do any water sport in Vung Tau. So in the early morning of February 12, 2016, we proceeded to Vung Tau Beach Club... by cab, no more futile walking. Little did I know that this beach club is actually just beside the area where we had our team building! Hurray, goal achived! Upon arriving at the beach club, we proceeded straight to the surfing shop, but there was only one staff present and they are not open for surfing yet. What to do now? Jet ski. What do we need for jetskiing? A jet ski and energy. So after finding jet skis for rent, we went to have breakfast just across the street -- com chien, pho and cha da. Then we proceeded as planned, although my friend opted to just chill by the beach, have coffee while savoring the view and good vibe in the beach.
    And so I proceeded to the highlight of my Vung Tau adventure -- jet skiing. The exhilaration of jumping on huge waves and survivng rough rides on the water, the sense of daredevil act (because the person sitting at the back can actually get thrown off from the ski when you hit a wave that hard) were all amazing! That moment was the epitome of my Vung Tau trip, my Tet Getaway.
    We made it back to the hotel just in time for check-out. I tried to look for that seafood market where we had lunch during my first visit in Vung Tau, but could not pinpoint the exact location to the driver so we just opted to get KFC at the port. However, when we tried to buy tickets for 1 pm, it was full and we were given 4:30 slots -- again, what to do with 4 hours? Make the most of the situation -- we headed back to the Beach Club and grilled seafood by the beach -- ca, muc, tom and octopus -- spent the afternoon munching, talking, bonding, relaxing and savoring the nice view and afternoon beach ambience. It was an amazing experience!
    We arrived at Saigon just about 6 pm, fully satisfied with our unplanned yet great adventure. My friend and I were deliberating as to which trip would have been better, floating market or Vung Tau, and after discussing the pros and cons, we concurred Vung Tau trip was better not only because we had fun and it turned out to be a success, but also because we survived an uncertainty. We made an adventure out of the unfortunate predicaments that we experienced prior and during it. You just gotta make the most of what you have.
    danh sách diễn đàn rao vặt gov chất lượng