Browse Tag

beach

Return to the Western World

As I’ve been here in Sydney for a week, I’ve gotten a vague idea of Australia. Obviously, Australia is huge and I’ve only seen one city.

Similiarities with other cultures

Australia is, naturally, heavily influenced by England which manifests itself in such things as an abundance of fish’n’chips shops, driving on the left side of the road and cricket fields. However, Australia also has distinct cultural similarities with for example California in the US, like the laid back culture; the flip flops and the board wear.

bondi beach in sydney with surfer
Bondi beach, Sydney.

The language is English but there are a many new words and expressions that I’ve never heard before. The overuse of the word “heaps” is one. It means “a lot” or “many”:

“There are heaps of people on the beach”.

Another fun little quirk of the Australian language is exchanging the end of a word (or name) with “o”:

Bottle-o (bottle shop), arvo (afternoon), servo (service center), David (dave-o).

Sydney Beaches

You’ll see several different types here: You’ve got the German tourists out to lick some sun away from the cold winter back in Europe, you see the young surfers with their blond curly hair and billabong shorts and finally you see the ripped people running around topless (the boys, that is) who spend most of their time going to the gym and eating healthy. In all three situations, the goal is the same: to look good on the beach.

I went to two of the beaches in Sydney so far – Bondi and Bronte. Both extremely nice beaches with white sand and blue water.

bondi beach in sydney
Bondi Beach, Sydney from a high vantage point

You’ll see several different types here: You’ve got the German tourists out to lick some sun away from the cold winter back in Europe, you see the young surfers with their blond curly hair and billabong shorts and finally you see the ripped people running around topless (the boys, that is) who spend most of their time going to the gym and eating healthy. In all three situations, the goal is the same: to look good on the beach.

There is a definitely a large culture evolving around the beach and life on the beach.

Biking in Sydney

One thing, I miss from Denmark, is the bicycle culture. With the amazing weather we’re currently having here in Sydney a bike would be just great. Needless to say I was super stoked when my friend David said that I could borrow his bike. The initial excitement went away though when I learned that bikes are not exactly common in Sydney and people don’t use them as much as a means of transportation but rather recreationally – on racing bikes rather than citybikes.

There are no bike lanes so you share the road with the cars – and some cars really don’t like that so they get super close to you. Still, there is a functioning train/bus system and actual sidewalks which is a nice change of pace from the craziness that is Saigon (and the rest of South East Asia).

Sports

I’ve heard Australians call themselves a very sporty nation many times. They obviously play rugby and cricket but they also play four (!) different types of football, with one of them being the normal style soccer. They have huge stadiums (100.000+ people) and, apparently, the atmosphere in those stadiums is through the roof. Even if I don’t like the sport, I should still go, just for that sensational feeling.

Conclusion

Australia Provides a lot of new and interesting things for me to explore. And I’ve only been in one city so far!

Red Reef (or Ganh Do), Part of Xuan Dai Bay

Few people have heard of Song Cau in the Phu Yen province in eastern Vietnam but that’s far from the same as saying the area has nothing to offer. Xuan Dai Bay with its gorgeous sceneries is a must visit.

So what’s so special about it?

“The landscape and scenery is outstanding and unlike anything you’ve seen before – unless you’ve been to paradise that is.”

In the bay, there is a small fishing village called Ganh Đo or “Red Reef”, known for fishing and famous for its fish sauce. In fact, so well-known that the locals are able to lead a comfortable life in an otherwise poor province. However, Ganh Do is so much more than fishing and fish sauce. The landscape and scenery is outstanding and unlike anything you’ve seen before – unless you’ve been to paradise that is.

aerial photo of red reef in xuan dai bay in phu yen province
Aerial photo of Red reef, comfortably located in the peaceful Xuan Dai Bay. Photo: Lee Nguyen Tran

How did Red Reef get its name?

If you’re wondering how Red Reef got its name it’s due to the many reddish – brown reefs scattered around the area.

reddish brown reefs that give red reef its name
The reddish-brown reefs responsible for giving Red Reef its name. Photo: Le Nguyen Tran

Red Reef Beach

Aside from it’s unique beauty and quaint atmosphere, another appealing feature is the Red Reef beach. It has very smooth sand and mild waves, it’s flat, clean, and with shallow waters; even at 50 meters from the beach, the water is only waist deep.

picture of corner of red reef beach in phu yen vietnam
A picturesque corner of the quiet beach. Photo: Lee Nguyen Tran

In the morning, the life in Red Reef is tranquil and gentle. The fishermen, out catching squids, paddle slowly along the shore. Early risers are out and about in the relaxing environment, breathing the fresh air and swimming in the cool water.

sunrise a red reef beach in phu yen province, vietnam
Red Reef beach at sunrise. Photo: Lee Nguyen Tran

Meet the friendly fishermen

“It’s so rare that foreign tourists come to visit their place that being invited in for food and accommodation without even asking for it, is highly likely.”

Red reef is an accommodating destination for those who’d like to explore Vietnamese life far away from the tourist circuits. The local fishermen are very kind and friendly here – far beyond what you’d expect. It’s so rare that foreign tourists come to visit their place that being invited in for food and accommodation without even asking for it, is highly likely. They have no other reason than wanting to talk to you and because of their extraordinary hospitality.

fishermen getting ready in the morning at red reef beach, phu yen, vietnam
Fishermen getting ready for the day. Photo: Lee Nguyen Tran

Don’t forget the surrounding area

If you’re not already packing your bags to go see this gem, this should convince you. Red Reef has a special terrain. Not only does it have the before mentioned dream of a beach but mountains and rice fields can be found in the area as well so there are landscapes to please anyone. It’s not often you have so much beauty and variety packed into one place.

surrounding area of red reef
The outstanding terrain in the are surrounding Red Reef. Photo: Lee Nguyen Tran

When you have the chance, set foot on these lands. You will instantly feel the rustic charm of both the landscape and the people here.

Costa Rica – The land of pure living

Welcome to Costa Rica

Soon after you enter Costa Rica you will see and experience the unofficial law of the land, “Pura Vida”.

Pura Vida means pure living and it oozes through everything in life.

From the capital of San Jose to the surf city of Tamarindo you will see Pura Vida imprinted on almost every imaginable thing. It is used for expressing anything good. In everyday speech it means excellent or great or whatever similar expression you prefer.

Describing an atmosphere or painting a picture using only words can be quite challenging. The feeling you get from walking down an unfamiliar street, different from everything you know, or the sensation you get from overcoming an obstacle, be that climbing a mountain or taking your first successful turn on a snowboard, is hard to describe and can only be successfully relayed if the recipient has had similar experiences. Regardless of this, I’ll still try.

Drugs

The most obvious result of the Pura Vida mentality is the abundant amount of drugs. Within hours of arriving to Costa Rica the distinct smell of weed hit our noses (me, my brother, niece and nephew), the first day, a guy clearly drugged up on heroin, started talking to us (very friendly) and within 24 hours we were offered free cocaine by a staff member at the hotel we were staying at. Getting drugs in this country is not a problem.

Pura Vida – take it easy and relax

Another very pleasant aspect is the way everyone talks to you. People walking the street greeting you with “”Ey mon, welcome to Tamarindo – come by tonight – its reggae night at the mermaid”, leaves you with a feeling that somehow, every night is reggae night at the mermaid. You can easily talk to someone if you want to, there’s always someone on the streets and you won’t be left alone for long.

A good example is when we were taking some surf lessons. When learning something new it can be quite hard to remember the instructions you were told and the result is you get angry or confused and forget all of them altogether. My brother experienced this and the result was that the instructor just told him to “relax man – pura vida. You’re confused, amigo. Just take it easy and be patient, you’ll learn my friend, don’t worry.”

How to relax the Costa Rican way

In many western countries, the way you really relax is at your home, either with some good friends, your family or alone. Preferably with some good wine, a blanket, some Netflix or a movie. It obviously varies from person to person but generally speaking, relaxing doesn’t involve physical activity or talking to people you don’t know. Talking to strangers requires preparation and a mind set for socializing.

In Costa Rica relaxing means hanging around your favourite spot talking to everyone who passes by.

You’ve got the surfer who spends his whole life at the beach doing nothing but surfing at day and partying at night. The way he survives financially is by teaching other people how to surf and as such he is set for life. Maybe when he is older he opens a surf shop and hires younger surfers as teacher. Surfing is his life and he enjoys every day of it. No need for excessive materialism.

On the other end you’ve got the street vendor. He spends most of his days on a street corner talking to people while selling his goods. He is not like a cashier in a western supermarket who does his or her job at $8 an hour and just wants to be done with it, so the actual part of life enjoyed by the cashier can begin in the evenings and weekends. No, this guy likes what he is doing and when he feels like he’s sold enough for the day he goes home and probably enjoys some divinely tasty food made from fresh vegetables. Naturally, it’s homemade.

Poverty

Costa Rica is a poor country and it sets its limits. You can’t get an expensive car and you can’t travel to the other side of the world on a trip like the one we’re on now. Many things that we westerners consider necessities are not available to the average Costa Rican and for that reason alone many people wouldn’t want this life.

On the other hand, though, from my limited experience, they don’t need it. The focus of Costa Ricans lies on something completely different. The things that make them happy is much more basic. Good food on the table, a family that loves you and a roof over your head is a good start – combine that with some good waves or similar and you’ve got what you need.

Denmark, where I’m from, often prides itself on being the happiest country in the world – and on many lists, we are. But Costa Rica also scores high and even ranks #1 on this link for example. The one that ranks Denmark #1 is the world happiness report and in my personal opinion it is the more thorough list.

Nature

Nature alone Costa Rica worth a visit. Without trying to sound too much like a Wikipedia page, I’ll list a few of the things that make this country remarkable.

Although a small country, it contains more than 5% of the worlds biodiversity and 25% of the country is protected as national parks and similar protected areas. It has volcanoes, rain forests, beaches, mountains, rivers and everything in between making it a haven for adventurers and nature lovers alike. Alligators, pumas, sharks, sloths and nose bears can be found here along with a myriad of bird species. The 10.000 colones note even has a sloth on it!

In conclusion. I’m sure you’ll like it!

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