Resort Rendezvous

South China Sea
QUY NHON, Vietnam
October 2, 2010

I never knew that raindrops could sting. But they can really smart: when you're riding on the back of a motorcyle, wearing a helmet that covers only your skull, driving through a thundershower.

I was on my way out of the city of Quy Nhơn to the beach resort where Lisa and Eric are staying, some 16 km south. I got off the bike, paid the driver, and scurried through the rain into the lobby.

Eric and Lisa are taking a couple weeks away from life in Beijing to tour Vietnam. They welcomed me into their suite, offering up a hot local beverage: coffee filtered through a French press dribbled into condensed milk.

Lisa was busy with a writing project, leaving me and Eric free for the afternoon. We quickly found a diversion. The resort had a regular activity schedule for guests. Every Friday at 2:30 PM was an introductory Vietnamese language lesson. They had already booked two slots. But, with Lisa still busy writing into the late afternoon I could stand in for her: taking my first look at Vietnamese. Eric and I brought our cups of coffee and condensed milk out into the main lobby.

Eric, Lisa, and David
An hour isn't enough to grasp the basics of any language, but I'm happy that we got a rudimentary introduction. I now have a photocopied handout that gives approximate pronunciation of the script. I still can't key letters to exact sounds. Still, it was useful to have a native speaker enunciate the alphabet and illustrate which markers distinguish tone from which markers distinguish different vowels.

I bid farewell to Eric and Lisa after dinner and took a taxi (this time a real car, not a motorcycle) back to Quy Nhơn. We're planning to get together one final time before we all move along, this time here in town. They'll return to Beijing; my next stop is the ancient city of Hoi An.

Before leaving the resort I made a point to do one thing. I walked out onto the beach and dipped my hands into the waters flowing in. The South China Sea is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. I'm hoping that I can mark the end of this trip by laving my hands in waters of the Atlantic--making my journey entirely overland, without a single flight.