We got a particularly late start to our second day. We slept off all the beers and local spirits from the night before. All the in flight aches and pains and all the early mornings that make running our startup! The thick curtains in our hotel room shielded us from the reality that we were missing a beautiful day!
We were up at the crack of noon, and after securing some scooters from a rental place just down the road from our hotel we fueled up and headed toward our next eating experience.
Other than the fact that there were vegan burgers on the menu, we had no idea what to expect at Tam’s Pub & Surf Shop. We took a quick look at the menu while discussing that in our haste to leave Da Nang International Airport we’d neglected to exchange currencies and that we’d have to go back immediately after eating (it seemed no banks would change our Korean Won, go figure!). Tam herself overheard our conversation and recommended that we exchange currency for a much better rate at a local jeweler’s. We tried our best to create a mental picture of her directions and even pulled out Google maps to get a location, when Tam said it’d be easiest if we went together! I put in our food orders while Tam hopped on the back of Kevin’s scooter and they were off! When they’d returned, Kevin told me that we’d got an unparalleled exchange rate, Tam had saved us invaluable time considering our late start to the day, and jested that he was even more relieved that his inexperience on a scooter on the wild streets of Da Nang didn’t end in tragedy! He said he’d never live down bringing any harm to Tam of Tam’s who appeared to be an institution in Da Nang.
And wow, was he right. It wasn’t until a dinner/house warming party that evening that we’d heard stories about what Tam had been through in the war. As an adolescent she was imprisoned, escaping twice. The first time, she was recaptured and the second time she fled escaping capture by braving a painful night in a tree covered by fire ants. The walls of her restaurant are decorated in photos documenting her life from childhood living among the American military. She’s often visited by people in those photos and travelers alike as she is a living memory of that terrible era in her country. Though we didn’t stay long to chat with Tam, should you happen across her shop, we’d implore that you do as in hindsight we would have.
Though, to be honest, her food was not the best. The veggie burger was very sweet and heavy having been deep fried. The fries were par for the course.
After Tam’s, we took to the streets to get accustomed to our new wheels. There are very few traffic lights in Vietnam. With so many scooters and cyclists there is almost no need (though our pals did mention not being unfamiliar with seeing bodies in the streets!) The rules appear to be that motorists simply drive with extreme caution and the bigger your vehicle the less caution you employ. We started out easy, on the beach front road cruising toward the mountains at the end of the strip. It was a lovely ride until it wasn’t. The rain came pouring down as if on a timer at 2 PM. So we put on our rain protective gear and motored on for about a minute before we were stopped by the authorities. The entire mountain was off limits to all except delegates of APEC.
Drenched, and diminished but not defeated, we motored on. We cruised around town, familiarizing ourselves with the roads and collecting fruits and local snacks for the evening. We racked some beach time and rested up for a dinner at our pal’s new place that was conveniently just 3 km down the road from where we were staying.
It just so happened that our pal Phil’s girlfriend Nga has a good friend that owns and operates a vegan restaurant (Will update with a link!) Nga set up a whole platter for us to enjoy.
There was the traditional sour soup that was poured over rice noodles. It was souper good ^^
Our favourites were the fried eggplant and rolled tofu dishes. The flavours were so rich and distinctly regional. I will not sleep well until I learn that eggplant treatment!
These fried spring rolls were treated like Korean BBQ in that we were to wrap each one in a leaf of lettuce garnished with other vegetables. They were delish!
Alas after what was quite a long day we called it an early night. We fought through rain and several back roads and closed roads to find our way all of those 3 kilometers to our friends place. It was enjoyable in its experience, but exhausting! And we wanted to be up good and early the next day, of course, to eat!