My worst nightmare

It happened so suddenly; someone who I had known so well and cared about so deeply tried to kill me.

He had his crazed eyes on me, ones that I didn’t recognize at all. It was as if he was in another world entirely. His eyes were so focused but yet so distant, and I was still his target. As he walked closer and closer I tried to step back to run away, but somehow a white wall showed up behind me. I couldn’t move and I didn’t really want to. Deep down I still knew this person. I knew I could reason with him and bring himself back to his body. I just had to remind him of who I was, who he was, and make him realize what he was about to do.

I called his name, and called and called. But it wasn’t working. I put my hands out to try stop him, but he only pushed them down with determination. I felt his strong hands around my neck, and realized that he was strangling me. I could tell from the start that this was his intention, but I didn’t want to believe it. My worst nightmare had finally came true.

His hands were pressing harder and harder on my throat, and his mind was still vacant of rational thought. Without much oxygen left, I did my best to speak, to continue to reach through to the true him. This wasn’t like him at all. I still recognized him, but this wasn’t someone I knew anymore. I tried and I tried, but finally I had to resort to something more drastic. Tears welled up in my eyes for him, because what I was about to do was going to kill me on the inside. But if I didn’t do anything I would die.

My vocal chords were being crushed and any cry for help wasn’t making it though, but tears were running down my cheeks as I reached behind him. With him being so focused on me, he didn’t even notice what was happening; he was possessed. With a knife finally in my grasp, I hesitantly and slowly began pushing the knife though his right trapezius muscle. My goal wasn’t to kill him, but hope that this pain would wake him from his altered self. I had managed to put about an inch of the knife through, but I was still suffocating, still being choked to death.

I realize that with no pain getting through, I had lost him; the person I loved had left and I could no longer reach him. He was shoved somewhere in a small compartment in the back part of his brain. This person I could not reason with, and I was about to die. I considered stabbing him more but I just couldn’t do it. Then I noticed that despite the wound I had caused him, no blood was running down his back, and I felt a push.

And another push, and another…

I’m lying in bed and with my back faced to him, Ryan’s gently shaking me awake. Finally I wake up and I’m crying. I turn over and Ryan looks at me worried.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong? You sounded like you were choking. Why are you crying?” He says.

Between trying to catch my breath and stop myself from crying I responded “You were strangling me!”

And that, my friends, was one of my experiences in Vietnam. My boyfriend of…well almost 4 years now, who I do NOT at all fear, who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, tried to kill me….in my nightmare. Fortunately I did not fear him after this dream. I very much still trust that I will be alive next time I’m around him. But don’t worry, I can assure you the rest of our trip in Vietnam was nothing like this, and Ryan never tried to strangle me (and I know he never will!). Honestly that was the only bad time I had in Vietnam!

Vietnam

Vietnam was truly an amazing vacation! I loved the people, the environment, the vibes; it was all a great place to be. When Ryan and I decided to go here, we really didn’t know much about it. It was actually one night we were bar hopping in Shanghai with some colleagues, and one of them being Vietnamese, recommended Da Nang to us. He said it was a laid back, beach sort of area and that we would love it.

So we took a chance on his recommendation, booked our flights, which are never as cheap as you hope them to be, and made hotel reservations. Booking a hotel was probably the easiest part; there were many hotels to choose from with a 5 minute walk to the beach, which also appeared like quite the luxurious hotel for a very affordable price!

These are some of my favourite views from this hotel:

Things that made Vietnam special

Besides the amazing beach and location in general, one thing I really did love a lot about Da Nang was how nice everyone was; it didn’t matter where we were. We could be ordering food at the restaurant, or getting drinks at a bar on the beach, or stopping at very small, family-run convenience store for water; everyone was very kind. I could smile at anyone and they would easily smile back!

One thing in particular I was shocked to hear when eating at the restaurants were that the people asked “How is your meal?” This question is something mandatory at restaurants in North America for the waiting staff to ask. However in China I have never heard this question; and I guess I assumed that Vietnam would be the same. Either way, I was blown away by the consideration of people here.

As well, I was baffled by the number of mopeds on the road. There were way more mopeds than cars. Just by observation, Vietnam seemed like a poor country, so maybe mopeds were what the majority of what people could afford. Anyways, crossing the road to get to the beach was at times a bit of a scary moment because no one would stop for pedestrians. This wasn’t any different from China…crossing the road generally can be a scary moment in Asia. (Except in Japan; I remember Japanese people always stopping for pedestrians).

Lastly, I was really amazed with the number of foreigners! I’m not sure if there was anything specific that made Vietnam such a foreigner destination, but it was! But then again, I always wonder why people travel to the places they do. Probably just because they can!

Vacation=Alcohol

Am I right everybody?? Most of our days in included alcohol…I mean why not! VACATION. Actually at the duty free during our stopover in Kunming, China, we bought a bottle of Baileys. This was something we had been craving for a while…for whatever reason. Although I’m sure China has Baileys, we have yet to have it here. So we saw it, we liked it, we bought it. And we drank the whole bottle in less than 24 hours… is that gross? Probably. But like I said…vacation!

Getting a feel for Da Nang

On our first night we walked around Da Nang to get a feel for the city. We saw shirtless men working out on the beach because that’s where the chin up bars were located. We saw people drinking at the little huts along the beach, and we saw people eating at the many seafood restaurants along the sides of the roads. Actually, seafood was extremely popular here, which makes sense with it being near a beach.

Overall my, initial feel was that Da Nang was a well-balanced city: there’s room for alcohol, exercise, enjoying food, or just relaxing on the beach.

We decided to make our first meal in Vietnam a true Vietnamese seafood meal. Basically these restaurants are nothing fancy; you sit down on tiny plastic chairs (that Ryan was scared of breaking), at a really low-to-the-ground plastic table. Then, you look at the menu; which you find out is pointless because you need to go up to choose which seafood you want. So we went up to the seafood they had; which ranged from clams and mussels, to crab, lobster and octopus. While Ryan was picking out the lobster he wanted-

-I was preoccupied watching an octopus trying to escape. I saw one guy rustling around in a ‘tub’ of octopus’s and took out two. While he was handling one octopus, the other one he left on the ledge was trying desperately to get away. I try not to think about how sad the treatment of animals in Asia can be sometimes. Many times I’ve considered going vegetarian or vegan…but I guess to put it quite simply, I don’t want to right now….maybe one day.

Anyways, the seafood was DELICIOUS; we ended ordering lobster, calamari, and mussels. SO so good. Unfortunately though, their currency is rather confusing to get used to at first (they have so many zero’s), and we found out we didn’t have enough money to pay. So Ryan tried using his cards, and after many attempts we found out weren’t working for some reason. So one of the servers took Ryan on his moped to an ATM; and I sat waiting with the moped security guard (I think that’s what his job was…but he hardly looked official) at the restaurant. He kindly offered me one of his chairs to sit on while I waited. Another reason why they were such nice people!

About 10 minutes later Ryan came back from his moped ride:

IMG_1807
Not the best photo….

He successfully paid the people what we owed them. They apologized, but obviously it wasn’t their fault, and we went on our way to a bar.

Our ‘go-to’ place

On our first night we decided to hangout at a place called “The Dawn”, which was a little hut right along the beach that served all sorts of tasty drinks. This became our go-to place for the rest of our time in Vietnam… I mean besides the rooftop bar at our hotel which had the infinity pool/beach view. The drinks were cheaper, but not any less tasty, and it felt more casual.

The rest of our adventures

While eating and drinking were the majority of our activities, we did do other things! On our first full day in Vietnam, that morning I for some odd reason, woke up at 5am and I couldn’t get back to sleep. So by 7:30am I decided I was going to work out. I went for a nice long run on the beach, which was fantastic.

beach runbeach 2

Surprisingly it was my first time running (with purpose), on a beach, and I loved it. But as I got closer to the end of my run, it started getting hotter and hotter and I felt like I was going to pass out from the heat. I guess I didn’t really eat breakfast…

However after my workout and breakfast we made our way to the beach. I was craving sunshine and couldn’t wait to relax! Unfortunately, I packed everything in my bag that we needed except sunscreen. This turned out to be the biggest mistake of the trip because after 2-ish hours on the beach, Ryan and I were pretty burnt. We didn’t realize just how badly burnt at the time, because burns seem to like to sink in overnight.

sunburn

The next morning our burns seemed worse. I decided on this trip that sunburns are almost like getting drunk; you feel really good at the time, but really regret it the next morning! Although personally I’d rather have a sunburn than a hangover.

While it’s not surprising that Ryan got pretty badly burnt for wearing no sunscreen, it was a bit surprising how badly I got burned. I’m usually one that doesn’t need to wear sunscreen and I can tan very easily; however China has changed me! It is very rarely that we see the sun in China, and even when we do, we are protected by a layer of smog. So in hindsight, I suppose I understand, but I’m not too happy about my new sensitive skin!

Ha Noi

Unfortunately, or fortunately for our skin, it rained for the rest of our days in Vietnam EXCEPT the day we had to leave. So to occupy ourselves, we arranged to go to one of the major cities nearby called Ha Noi. This place was basically just a huge outdoor market with bars and restaurants.

Ryan wasn’t really into shopping, while I was interesting in buying a few things. So between stores, we stopped in at bars to get drinks. For the first drink, Ryan was solo because I wanted to get a pedicure and I didn’t expect him to sit around and watch that happen.

My ‘pedicure’ experience

I did not enjoy my pedicure experience; while the price was still cheap they lied about it! I hate when people are sneaky! The price said “Pedicure: 105, 000 VND” (look at all those zero’s!), which is what I wanted. Then I found out after they started working on my feet that I had to pay extra for basically everything you’d think is included in a pedicure. Their pedicure price included a foot soak, and the nail and cuticle trim. I had to pay extra if I wanted the dead skin scraped off my feet, or nail polish on my toes. Girls, tell me if I’m right or wrong here…but doesn’t a pedicure usually include all those things?? I tried asking why it was called a pedicure…but I got nowhere with this. Anyways, I don’t like when people aren’t upfront about these things, so I was a bit bummed out.

Getting your nails done in Vietnam is much like getting them done at home; when they speak their own language and you have no idea what they’re saying but you just know they’re talking about you. The girl was commenting on how rough the bottoms of my feet were. WELL MAYBE if you didn’t lie about the price I would have paid extra to get that taken off! Anyways…sometimes language barrier prevents you from expressing why you don’t agree with something. At the end of the day it didn’t matter anyways. I paid what I owed and got out of there.

To numb ‘such an awful experience’, Ryan and I got tequila shots:

drinks

And continued to shop! It turned out to be a lot of fun!

Our ‘rebellious’ side

One of the few funny situations we found ourselves in during our time in Ha Noi was when, about 3 or 4 times, someone stopped us from passing an area asking us where our tickets were. We asked, for what?? They explained we needed to pay to enter into the ancient city, which is where we have been exploring for the past several hours! The first time we just turned around and found a different way in, another time was when we just wanted to go back where we came from. We explained that we were just there with no tickets, and they shook their head asking for the ticket.

We were thinking it was all a scam, because we never noticed anyone else showing their tickets (so why were we getting picked on?!). Instead, we just waited until the lady turned around or was busy, and walked through. Two of the times we decided to ignore them and continue walking straight through while they were still looking; both times nothing happened to us (although the one lady basically screamed “Excuse me!!”). Soo we think it’s probably a scam, but from the anger in the one lady’s voice, we still don’t know for sure!

My Son

So we went to see my son in Vietnam…yes, I had a son in Vietnam.  HA. I’m hilarious. Just kidding. My Son is a place in Vietnam that we arranged to go to. It’s pronounced ‘Mi’ (like me) Son, which is a UNESCO world heritage site: an area of abandoned and ruined Hindu temples destroyed by the US during the Vietnam War. Many people were involved in its restoration before it got destroyed during the war, only to have to restore it again afterwards.

It was really a beautiful place; and even though it was raining I think it made the colours of everything more vibrant.

IMG_1983

Corn-on-the-cob

You’re probably wondering what the heck corn on the cob has to do with Vietnam: well for Ryan, it is now the main thing burned into his brain.

Later that evening when we arrived back in Da Nang, we went back to “The Dawn”, found a seat, and Ryan went to the bar for drinks. There were two guys that started talking to him because they recognized his Toronto Maple Leafs hat; they were from Montreal. We’ll call man 1 Paul and the man 2 Freddy. While they were waiting for their drinks, Paul suggested that Ryan look at his phone to see what the standings were; the Leafs were pretty close to making it to the playoffs! But when Paul unlocked his phone, the screen opened up to, I kid you not, a corn on the cob beside a penis. Yup. A penis and a corn on the cob. Neither Paul nor Freddy commented on this odd picture; it was completely ignored as if it were the more normal thing in the world! Ryan said nothing, waited for his drinks and left.

Now because I was waiting at a table enjoying the live music, I didn’t notice anything happening. Ryan however came back with our drinks in hand, and a strange look on his face. For the next 10-20 minutes, he was still describing how shocked he was, wondered why it happened, and why the heck would that be the last thing the person had open on their phone. He was just full of questions; none of which I could answer of course because I can’t say I’ve never looked up the comparison, or accidentally showed someone a picture the comparison. I totally understand how shocked he was.

Our last day in Vietnam was a perfectly sunny day, so I didn’t want to leave. One of the most interesting ways we found to get around was by bicycle. We rented the bikes twice before to see the city; the one day to get groceries, and the other to get (more) alcohol/explore.

You can see the one day we randomly stopped for me to play with these adorable puppies!

But for the purpose of covering more ground, on our last day we decided we would rent a moped. We mostly wanted to get a bit closer to see their Lady Buddha that we saw every day and every night from the beach and hotel. Renting a moped for the day cost around $8!! For a FULL day. Unfortunately for us, we only had about 2 hours until we needed to leave for the airport. We drove up the winding roads to the mountain (more like hill) area to get close to where the Lady Buddha was, but stopped to put sunscreen on along the way just in case (well Ryan did…).

We then drove further and further up the curvy roads, with me trying to snap pictures. I was a bit terrified of dropping my phone but never did. We made a stop to take photos and our moped decided it was out of gas…although we’re pretty sure they don’t fill it with real gas because the thing said it was empty when we got it. Ryan, being the smart guy he is, decided we would just turn around and go downhill and hopefully we’d make it back that way; but as he was doing that he got the moped to start and everything was okay!

IMG_2055

moped drive
The white statue in this picture is the Lady Buddha

I didn’t want to say bye to one of my new favourite places; but obviously it had to be done! From drinking every day, to burning on the beach, to waking up from crying from a nightmare; Vietnam was an amazing trip. I truly had a blast with Ryan.



NEXT UP:

Our next trip I am the most excited for, not for the location but for who we will be with: MY PARENTS! Yes, my parents have finally decided that they will visit China, and I’m thrilled to have them here. Besides getting to spend time with them, I can’t wait for how entertained I will be by my dad’s facial expressions and comments about Chinese culture. He is someone that doesn’t always like change, likes things the way he likes it, and (like me) appreciates his personal space. I hope to capture some candid photos for everyone. We will be spending 3 days in Beijing, 5 days in Chongqing, 3 days in Singapore, and ending it off with 3 days in Shanghai.

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