Our second day along the Southern coast commenced with huge bowls of Pho Bo to calm our uneasy heads before a journey up the coast to Long Hai. Long Hai is one of the many coastal villages and beaches that are scattered along the mostly undeveloped coastline. We had heard that the water was cleaner and the view from the winding sea road was worth the trip alone.
Due to the heavy local production of dried squid in the area, this otherwise pristine tidal valley reeked of noxious fumes. A definite contender for worst smell I've ever experienced.
Arriving on the outskirts of the dusty seaside village mid-morning, Gavin and I enjoyed coffee and some adolescent squid grilled and stuffed with onions and local herbs.
This was our view while we were snacking:
We weren't really sure what to do once we reached Long Hai. As we drove along the coast and stopped at multiple beaches, the water appeared unhealthy and the sea was clogged with fisherman laboring under a strong sun. Not wanting to get entangled in any nets and served up for dinner, we decided to hit up some of the local resorts. We stopped by a few to have a look around, but ultimately settled on the Long Hai Beach Resort and Spa to spend our day. Tucked between heavily forested hills, the great green sea, and tall dunes, the resort was the perfect setting for a day of post-celebratory relaxation. For a small fee, we were allowed access to their monstrous pool, on-site restaurant, grounds, and secluded beach.
Inexplicably, we were the only people there with the exception of staff. On weekdays, the area is a ghost town. It wasn't only in Long Hai either, the entire stretch of coast seemed to be created solely for us. We were kept company by the detritus lining the beaches and the irregular fisherman shuffling down the sandy expanse. The only other visitor to the nearby bay, an iridescent sea snake (pictured below), was unfortunately dead upon arrival. So, in true neo-Colonial fashion, we spent this blissful, sun-scorched afternoon lazing at the swim-up bar, snacking on seafood, blaring the Ipod (Galaxie 500 made for quintessential sun-bleached sounds), and exploring the beach.
The aforementioned lunch - including scallops, spinach and grilled white fish. Again, I wasn't so impressed with the fish, but the scallops sauteed in garlic butter melted in my mouth. This was actually my first time trying scallops. I definitely plan to add them to my growing repertoire of seafood.
After hours of lounging, eating, burning, reading... it was time to leave the life of luxury and head back to Vung Tau and our more modest accommodation.
We caught another breathtaking sunset on the way home.
For our last big feast in Vung Tau, we thought we would check out a seafood joint some of the locals had raved about the night before. Ganh Hau is a little classier place than the sidewalk bar we previously patronized. They actually had a menu with fairly true English translations and white table cloths to boot. They appeared to cater to the oil-rich Russians and Scots that live in the area due to the extensive vodka and whiskey lists. Gavin and I had the meal to end all meals at Ganh Hau. We started with three enormous raw oysters and continued on to a whole crab, grilled cuttlefish, veggie spring rolls and sauteed morning glory. (The atmospheric lighting in the place made for strange photos.)
We ate until we could hardly breathe then headed back to our hotel to get a good nights sleep.
Unfortunately, our holiday came to an end Friday afternoon, but we did manage to fit in one last swim and I got a festive holiday pedicure at another local resort...bright, sparkly red! By four, we were back in the hustle and bustle of Saigon, pushing our way though avenues choked with motorbikes. It's comforting to know that a decent beach fix is only an hour and a half away.