Ah, the limitations of perfect peace. While most people publicly proclaim that is what they want, when they get it there is disappointment. The Anam is a hive of peace. The first days are sublime, the next few are relaxing, and the final ones feel they need stimulation, like overhearing a spirited row between guests. This is a beautiful place for recovery but, once you’re over the tensions of life, enough already. Bring on some more tensions to get over. Yes, I’m becoming philosophical, probably a sign that I’m ready to finish Vietcetera here and get back to join the other rats in the race. However, there are a few observations before we depart today.
One of the main attractions of the Anam is the beach, with its warm water and moderate waves. The hotel serves drinks and nibbles from a beach encampment which also houses the trusty, young, wade-worthy lifeguards. What few people have discovered is that the hotel pipes cold beer from its bar straight to the beach. I found the tap in the sand. You have to join the Beach Beer Club (BBC) to access it and it takes some practice to use it. You must lie on the sand and make a hollow with your cheek so that your mouth can entirely cover the faucet outlet. Thus engaged, you turn the tap and out gushes cold Vietnamese beer. If you turn the tap too far, your mouth is blown from the faucet and you get drenched in beer – for which you are still charged even though you didn’t drink it.
Every Asian hotel takes considerable trouble to train staff in how to direct guests. Since language can be a problem, hand signals become vital, especially the ‘over there please’ frozen forehand drive. To execute this properly, the arm must be extended, elbow locked, the hand open and flat, and the thumb down (up indicates disrespect for the directee). If the guest stupidly heads in the wrong direction, the other arm, also deploying the frozen forehand drive, is brought into play with the same action, often augmented by a nod of the head and an inaudible disparaging mutter.
Yesterday morning I noticed a small gathering of hotel staff near the swimming pool kneeling beside a large, flat, brown-with-white-spots plastic cut-out. There was also a pump on hand. I later saw it realised at the beach. While there are many blow-up horses and birds to keep swimming kids happy, this was new: a blow-up giant pretzel. Its proud owners took it into the surf and, as one might expect, it proved unseaworthy. Its interlooping curves offered nothing to sit on, it had no fore or aft and the waves kept capsizing it. I gave it one out of 10 with no chance of making the semi-final.
Until next time, dear friends, fare thee well.
Laird Fraser Beath McEwing (motto and coat of arms coming)