and the curious case of the old motorbike!
23.05.2012 - 25.05.2012 25 °C
It is the time to move on from Hue and head south for new adventures. It is this morning that locked Annie and myself as travelling partners for the rest of our trip to Ho Chi Minh City (formally Saigon), going from people that are travelling in the same direction to people that are ‘travelling together’. There is a time when you start to think that a bus pass isn’t the worst idea in the world, this time happened to be at the same time for the two of us. So we ordered it at the same time which it meant that the receptionist believe that two people would be travelling on one ticket (one male and one female, easy mistake to make) and not a problem, we have the same time frame and what to go to the same places. It was only when we got on the bus and were leaving that we worked out the mistake and even though we were travelling together for the time being and Annie wasn’t my first spontaneous travelling partner I had, it still was a strange feeling when you realise you have been thrown together beyond your control.
Do it was a miserable day when we arrived in Da Nang, late afternoon. Now Da Nang is not one of those normal stops that everyone makes when they are travelling Vietnam but it did not stop us. After the win that we had from finding Ninh Binh we thought why not? But these decision are not made without the aid of the handy guide book, a tool of great power in the right hands can do so much good. We heard of this up and coming town of Da Nang. Where the night life and restaurant scene was the newest in Vietnam… well! But this is what I love about travelling, that when you are one of those people that head off and try new things. People that go away from the tourist areas and get conned by the clever travel talk, you will find if nothing else a new photo point, but it could be a hidden gem. What I am trying to say is that people will always tell you that sayings like ‘up and coming’ and ‘lively atmosphere’ in guide books are words to avoid. I tell you, no implore you to ignore them. Because Da Nang wasn’t want I expected but I wouldn’t have missed it now. The first night we ate in a place called ‘Pizza Hug’ –how sweet is that- and then lay on our double bed, because there was no hostel and sharing is cheaper and eat wrong taster cheetos and watched movies because the lively night scene shuts at 10:30. I know it doesn’t sound much but it was our adventure.
The next day was even better, it was one of the strangest days that I have had travelling. After a breakfast of Beef Pho we decided that it was time to rent a motorbike and head for Monkey Mountain. So we headed back to the hotel to ask where we could get on from and this was the funniest thing the women just gave us her keys and we borrowed helmets from a friend of hers, helmets that didn’t real fit and a bike that didn’t really go, but we took it anyway and headed off for another motorbike adventure. Now Monkey Mountain (named because from the sea looks like monkey ears, whatever they look like) and is as you expect a mountain, the trustworthy guide books says that you need a big engine bike to make it up, the problem was that we had a very old 50cc scooter with a basket on the front and questionable brakes. It also was too small for me and I struggled to change gear, so every change almost throw Annie off the back and at some points I believe we could have walked up quicker. I don’t know how but somehow we made in a mixture of screaming engine and laughing riders. When we did get to the top we came across a group of riders with their Harley Davison’s and other more suitable bike, the worst thing is that a guy walked out of the group and nodded at us. I felt like a biker and almost like I had achieved something getting this bike up this hill. But embarrassed I drove past and parked but Honda Wave II apart. I was at this point when we had gone for a walk that for the third time on this trip I got stopped with a man with a gun and left the area sharpish because apparently the old American radar systems are still currently the Vietnamese radar systems and men with guns don’t like white men with cameras walking near them… I wonder why?
That evening it when we went to leave we worked out that 4 and 5 on a phone in a Vietnamese accent sound the same, so we missed the bus. So we checked into a hotel and paid for another room, the funny thing about this hotel was the owner refused to give us a double room. Started saying that it had to be twin or separate rooms. The only hotel I have come across to date that believe unmarried people should not share a bed, it was the sweetest thing. That night we decided we should leave the hotel and enjoy the night life. We found this great restaurant and eat hotpot* and drunk beer. This was a great restaurant with a waitress who only smiled when she was with us and seemed to get as much joy from serving us as we did being served. I think it was the big genuine smile and open heart that won me over and because of this we were there for a good three and a half hours if not more. There is something to be said about being a tourist outside the normal places. I have had it all over the world and it makes me smile when I look back and think of the waiting staff and shop keepers who probably are talking about this strange white man from England and makes them laugh as much as I am telling you about them. That night we found a bar that was open and had some drinks and befriended a crazy local who liked to dance and then accidentally walked off without paying the bill. Basically what I am saying is I wouldn’t have had this night and these memories if I had gone with the group. Follow an unwritten path in your life and see where life takes you!!!
- Not a Lancaster Hotpot but a Vietnamese dish that includes meat and fish in a pot in the middle of the table on a single hob. One of those meals that last for ages when you talking.