Hello, What’s Your Name?
A three week adventure around Vietnam.
It had been one of those mornings as I sat in reflection on a dingy train bound to Ho Chi Minh City. Running out of money that morning when I had tried to check out of my hotel, and then spending 10 minutes frantically dashing around the various ATM’s in Nha Trang. All whilst knowing I had less than 15 minutes until my train departed. Now as I looked down in my not so comfortable seat, I could see my fellow passenger literally sleeping under my feet on the floor, whilst her head lolled on her part of the seat. If this little hindrance wasn’t uncomfortable enough, my knees were now resting around my neck due to the large package placed in my leg space by sleeping beauty. I could have placed them in the aisle, however I run the risk of having them amputated by the megalomaniac driver of the food cart.
To make matters worse, my wife had been placed in a different seat from me. As I looked across the carriage it was evident Niki was is a state of anaphylaxis shock. Tears were welling in her eyes, lips were uncontrollably trembling and a scary scowl that would make the devil seem like a good promotional face for L’Oreal. Originally I thought she was reacting to the fact that she wasn’t sitting next to me for the next eight hours, and who wouldn’t right? However looking closer at the situation unfolding, I thought this isn’t right. Then it clicked, everything fell into place and I understood why the nuclear like bomb was appearing behind her eyes. It wasn’t our separation, it was a pair of smelly overgrown feet with long yellow nails belonging to an old man behind her, whom had evidently taken the opportunity to shove them into the side of her stomach and nudge her as he slept. It was like a matador teasing the bull and if it wasn’t so serious, I would have laughed. Because if you knew Niki, you would know her biggest pet hate is feet….let alone dirty feet.
Rule No. 14 of being married – Suggesting to your wife to play “this little piggy went to market” with a strangers foot will get you the silent treatment. So in other words if you have nothing constructive to say to your wife, facebook it instead…
Nic and I were in the closing days of our trip and making our way from Nha Trang to the legendary city of Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City as it is known today. Saigon has long enticed people by its almost wild west appeal, attracting people from all walks of life for its debauchery, craziness and exoticism. After our uncomfortable train ride, we disembarked into peak hour chaos of Saigon and I’ve never seen anything like it in my life – not even in Beijing, Bangkok or Rome! The traffic was gridlocked in a mass of cars with no lanes evident and no sense of direction. I had heard rumors about the traffic here, however thinking that I’d seen the worse in Hanoi, thought nothing could shock me…I was wrong. Bikes were zooming in every direction, cars where mounting sidewalks, taxis sat in the middle of intersections whilst other cars locked them in from the other direction. Buses were driving diagonally as they darted to pick up passengers and police officers were waving their hands like a conductor controlling an orchestra of bees. Gees if I had trouble getting Niki across the road in Hanoi, it was going to be bloody Mission Impossible here in Saigon. It was cities like this that make travel insurance worth it.
Finally we arrived at our hotel, Madame Cuc’s Hotel 64, which we had booked a couple of days before. On arrival we were told that they didn’t have room available and we would be staying at a guest house down the street, however we would come back here to use the internet, breakfast and pay. Apparently this disgraceful practice is common in Saigon, so be prepared for it. Our room was small and had single beds, not as booked, and overlooked the busy D Bui Vien. I wouldn’t recommend this hotel, the service was a little sloppy, rooms very basic for the price and they tried to charge us double to get to the airport over what a taxi would. When we disagreed with the cost they all of sudden found a transfer that would take us for cheaper. The story of Vietnam really.
Grabbing a bite at a small food stall for dinner, we retreated to the bedroom to get some needed sleep. For tomorrow was our last full day, I was going to need every bit of my concentration to keep Niki alive and away from cars. As we fell asleep I heard Niki mumbling in her sleep “stinky feet, yuck”, I’m sure I was going to need to book her some serious therapy when we returned to Australia.