I’m not a beach person, and just like the line in Alex Garland’s novel of the same name, I have found a beach for people who don’t actually like beaches. It’s called An Bang beach, and it’s not far up the road towards Da Nang from my base in Hoi An.
The purpose of my visit is to seek out another personal recommendation from Neville of a great place to eat – his restaurant tips are sometimes not easy to spot or discriminate from the other places around them. On this occasion its a place called “Tuyet” which is a shack set back from the beach. He tells me to go to the where the road meets the beach and it’s the third place on the right hand side..it’s almost like I should have a code word or a secret sign!
I don’t need to work hard on my navigation skills though, as as soon as I get out of the taxi a girl recognises me from Hoi An and sits down with me for a chat. She helps with Neville’s food tour in the morning then sells jewellery on An Bang beach in the afternoon. There are a number of locals (some with disabilities) selling things and I immediately take a decision that it doesn’t matter that I don’t need what they are selling, but it want to help – so I buy everything offered, nuts, eggs, coffee, newspaper, and bangles. Maybe I will sell them on the next train journey!
The beach is unspoiled, the locals don’t hassle anyone, the food is amazing, and it’s populated by tourists who seek a beach which is hidden from the the other lovely (but more commercialised) Cua Dai beach down the road.
No sooner that I have I asked for the “Neville menu” I recognise an Australian family from the other day and we have lunch together over a couple of Saigon Beers. They are also heading over to Cambodia later this week – funny the way you keep bumping into people in this kind of caper – it’s the very definition of “small world”.
Lunch consists of clams, shrimp, local fish, calamari and a very special spring rolls with a kind of silken coating. Neville says this place is the world’s benchmark for this kind of spring roll.. In total I spend 260000 Dong, including beers – £7.44.
I sit on the beach for the afternoon content to read my book and watch the world go by. All too soon the sun starts to set and I realise I need to get back to my hotel and get my gear together for some train travel the next day. But I’m happy that I have spent a few hours in such a lovely place.