Monday, June 25, 2018

Underwater Surprises

I have this new thing I do. I grab all my things, tell my wife to pack her bags and we hop a plane to a tropical beach. And then, to make things just a little more exciting, we never go back. It's kind of fun. You should try it some time.

This is a literal 8 minutes walk from my apartment.
Actually, I've only ever done this once, but I think it's my new thing. It's who I am now.

It may seem like a daring move to do something like this. Many people have said things like, "Oh, it must be so difficult living in a different country" and "How do you survive not being able to speak the local language?" and "Isn't it really hot there?"

However, living on the coast in Vietnam has its advantages. Here are a few:

There are some breath-taking views

Fruity beach drinks that cost less than
a bottle of water in the States.
Incredible seafood dinners daily.
Bikini contests on the beach near our apartment
These are just a few of the things that make the hardships worth it. In addition to the pictures, it never gets cold here. I haven't worn pants in over a month. My new life does not require an alarm clock. Insanely cheap cost of living. I swim in the ocean every night after sundown. No one here knows who Nickelback is.

So, in case you can't already tell, I think life here is pretty sweet. I am still amazed every day by some new thing I discover and fall in love with. When we first got here, it was the Vietnamese ice milk coffee. This week, it's the back alley noodle shops. I love it here.

Despite all the things I am in love with and enjoy looking at, I am slowly finding the few things I don't care for. This one started last week.

I mentioned earlier that I swim in the ocean each night after sundown. I do and it has been great. I've never really been much of a swimmer. I can swim, but just never had any desire to. But living so close to the beach, I thought this would be a good habit to develop. Plus, it's good for you. So, each night I head down and splash around in the water for an hour or so.

After a couple of weeks, I really began to notice how much the salt water made me itch. I would scratch all the way home AND it would always take me a while to get home because I would wander through the back neighborhoods to pick up banh mi sandwiches or my quang noodles. I love the food here.

Some days, I would feel like I was being jabbed with tiny needles while I was swimming. Not incredibly painful, but definitely unpleasant. It even turned me off from swimming for a few days. If you know me, I'm not really much for physical activity. So, it's pretty easy for me to quit stuff like this.

A few days later, on a Da Nang Facebook group post, someone asked if the beach infestation had subsided yet. That got my attention and I started reading through the posts. I soon found out what had been causing my discomfort.


Apparently, there are all kinds of lice.
  • Head lice - regular lice you get in your hair
  • Body lice - lice that are too stupid to ask directions to the head
  • Pubic lice - these are the party lice (street name - "CRABS")
  • Various species that attack different animals
However, I really thought we were safe from these little bastards in the water. Turns out the earth always finds new ways to get you. I mean, how many kinds of lice do we need to worry about? Are there toilet lice, coffee lice, toothpaste lice, shoe lice? Does there have to be nasty bugs everywhere?

A little more research showed me that sea lice aren't actually even lice at all.

They are baby jellyfish.
Aren't they cute?
This information makes it a little less disgusting. I was not being infested with a nasty bug, but just getting stung by baby jellyfish when caught in the fabric of my swim trunks. This can be easily solved by swimming naked, but Vietnam is still rather conservative concerning adult nudity.

It's not really a big deal as long as you don't have an allergic reaction to the stings, but it's still not pleasant. The internet suggests showering thoroughly after swimming to get them all off you. Or you can do like I do and wait until the surge of little demon babies has passed. I'm told this happens for a few weeks every summer and then the beaches are clear again.

I can wait it out.


  1. When asked why he moved to Sri Lanka Arthur C. Clarke said, "Forty English winters." He then probably added, "Also no one here knows who Nickelback is."
    I guess the Vietnamese are smart enough to stay out of the ocean when the baby jellyfish are around but then they eat the jellyfish which might be quite tasty. I don't know. I ordered jellyfish in a Vietnamese restaurant once and the waiter was very insistent that I wouldn't like it. I tried to be just as insistent that I was adventurous but eventually deferred.

    1. I actually ordered a jellyfish salad last week. It doesn't have much of a taste, but a rather strange texture. It's a slippery and soft yet crunchy something. I can eat it, but will never crave it.

  2. I don't mind. It's a little tingly, like I imagine swimming in a giant cocktail glass full of club soda might be.


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