The Seaside Bungalow is something uniquely special. When Michael arrives on February 3rd we expect to spend one night – maybe two – there before moving on. Just enough to experience TET. And yet with each passing day, as Vy’s warm hospitality envelops us and we grow closer to the other guests staying there, we extend our stay. We ended up spending 5 nights at The Seaside Bungalow and even now, six months later, I can still say it is one of the most precious hostels I have ever stayed at.
The Seaside Bungalow is run by Vy and her family, and it is a place where you soon become a part of the family yourself. Vy arranges family style dinners and we all sit and help prepare the food. One night it’s making spring rolls; another night it’s putting together skewers for on the barbecue.
Out here we spend short nights sleeping under our mosquito nets and long days lounging around. Chatting in the common room, swinging in the hammocks, or going to Ha My beach which is just down the road. At night we have bonfires on the beach, drinking and chatting until the morning. No matter the activity, Vy’s many dogs always follow along, patrolling and protecting us, but mainly playing and running along.
Michael and I spend a lot of our time socializing with Phyllis and listening to her stories of service and travel. We drink beers while she tells and we listen in rapture, asking questions. We ride into town for coffee or banh mi and end up scavenging a building site for more firewood. Vy is always quick to supply us with firewood, but when we spot a massive discarded tree trunk, we can’t resist. We walk through the city, Michael with bags of firewood and me with an enormous tree trunk over my shoulder, howling in laughter at the looks we get. Hoi An becomes more and more of a happy place in my eyes.
On the night of TET we sit at the beach as usual, watching our fire crackle in the dark. At midnight we stand and watch the fireworks coming up above the city. As we share hugs and whisper “happy new year,” it strikes me as no coincidence that this is the second new year I am celebrating in the few months I have been traveling. I feel my contentment all around me, quietly crackling like the log in our fire.