Hello, What’s Your Name?
A three week adventure around Vietnam.
Hindsight is a mixed blessing, it can give you the ability to look back at a situation and laugh about all things funny, or the chance to look back and say “what the hell was I thinking?” Well today on our trip to My Son, it was going to be a one of those “what the hell was I thinking” kinds of days.
Earlier that day, Niki and I decided to hire out scooters and ride the 35kms to the ancient temple complex of My Son, a sort of smaller version of Angkor Wat. I grew up riding bikes and feel reasonable comfortable scooting through traffic, however my beloved wife having only attempted once in Thailand, was in a different league of her own. When the bike shop owner asked politely if we wanted to share a bike, memories of our last attempt sharing a bike came flooding back – the wind in our hair in remote Laos, my beautiful wife to be holding on to my waist like lovers riding through Rome…the small rut that I hit, Niki falling off and the broken shin bone Niki received from this, it all came flooding back. Instantly looking at Nic thinking the same thing, I knew we had to get a second bike, neither that I had reservations about letting her even get close to the road, let alone ride on them.
“Niki, you have to go faster than 10kms an hour, it’s not safe” I yelled as I zipped passed her on my scooter. After getting past her wobbles, refueling and getting out of Hoi An’s traffic, we started playing the game of cat and mouse. For the next 35km I would ride ahead, stop and wait for a couple of minutes, than Niki would cruise by, allowing me to repeat the process all over again – it was tiring. After heading straight for a good 45 minutes, we hit our first major issue, a set of traffic lights! Being advocates of the British driving side, Vietnam developed it’s road’s like the rest of Europe – incorrectly. With nothing to loose I simply closed my eyes, prayed to the higher almighty and gunned it! All I heard was Niki yelling from a distance “waittttt fooooorrrrr meeeee yoooou bastardddddd!”
Rule No. 7 of being married – Wait for your wife! It will save you a telling off.
The rest of the trip to My Son would be cruisey, as all the turns would be in our favor, coming back though was going to be a different story and it was obvious Niki hadn’t realised this yet. If she had, I’m sure she would have turned around on the spot. We arrived into the complex of My Son, being told that we could park under the shade of a tree by a local women, only to get off and be told we had to buy a drink from her shop for parking there – damn the Vietnamese were good, how do I keep falling for these tricks?! After a cold drink, we then realized we were 1km away from the actual site and it was pointless parking where we had. Laughing, we jumped back on our bikes and headed closer. As we got closer, another person, looking a little scarier, told us to park in a car park. The car park more resembled a dirt bowl; however who am I to judge? Then the scary looking official told us that we had to pay for parking, handing the money over and seething through my teeth, I knew this was going towards his Saigon beer allowance.
After a good two hours, we finally begun our walk into the My Son complex, the massive site consist five regions of temples, buildings and other ancient delights. Considering it hundreds of years old, it’s aged well. After walking through the various complexes and passed a giant phallic that Niki pointed out (That’s my wife, always keeping an eye for the good stuff!), the incredible heat was starting to make us look like British tourists in Spain. With that in mind, we headed back to our bikes to head home.
The ride back started off well with the exception of Niki falling off her bike…..whilst standing still. The roads were empty; this was mainly due to the fact that the roads were eerily quiet due to siesta. I broke the trip up in my mind into two intersections and a Y junction to navigate and we would be home free. Five minutes before the first one I pulled Niki over and discussed the game plan, stick with me and when I say go – we go! So heading towards our first and biggest intersection, I yell to Niki “GO” and without out looking back I merge into the endless stream of traffic, it was like a work of art! Looking over my shoulder to make sure my beloved was with me, only to look back to see Niki at the intersection still – paralyzed with fear, tears overwhelming and a look on her face similar to a women trying to eat jellied eels – pure disgust! Zipping back to her, I can see she has had it, the incredible heat, the insane traffic and the weary body from riding a bike, I could tell all she wanted to do is throw the bike on the ground and start walking.
After some tears, a bit of reassurance that we would make it out alive, we made a break for it to cross the road. This is about the time I think to myself “oh why, oh mighty gods of above, do you think it was funny to have a truck overtaking another truck on the wrong side of the road with bikes coming down the outside as we pulled out??? By the time we got to the other side of the road, various dodging, horns blaring and a few chosen Vietnamese words mixed with a few chosen English words chucked about, Niki was a nervous wreck! Tears pouring down her cheek, I reassured her that the next intersection would be easier. Arriving merely 200 meters down the road to a massive road Y junction system, I pondered the lie I had just told and if Karma existed and then I thought, I’m not in the land of Karma I’m in the land of Ying and Yang, and with that started the ride of my life across a four lane road with Niki trembling on the bike next to me. This was about time when we mounted the curve to avoid being hit by a reversing truck and a bunch of cars on the wrong side of the road, I was starting to think that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
Dehydrated, burnt, sore and our blood pressure through the roof, Niki arrived back into Hoi An swearing that the only bike she would ride again would be one with pedals! Based on today, I reassured her the only bike she would ever be riding again would be one with pedals as well!