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My Son and the Ride of My Life in Vietnam

By on Sep 30, 2010 in Vietnam | 0 comments

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...

Love, Sweat and Tears in Hoi An

By on Sep 3, 2010 in Vietnam | 0 comments

Hello, What’s Your Name? A three week adventure around Vietnam. “Peter! Listen to me, I need a taxi!” my beloved wife said sternly to me. My Response: “I can’t find a taxi! It’s not my fault there are none around, don’t get narky with me”. Her Response: “I’m not getting narky; you’re bloody lost and can’t admit it”. My Response: “I’m not lost, I know where we are, and the map doesn’t lie” (Apparently it does). Her Response: “The man back there said we were lost and you told him he was wrong”. My Response: “What do you want me to do then?” Her Response: “Well, I’m going to ask the person over there to call a taxi!” My Response: “Nic, she doesn’t speak English and we don’t speak Vietnamese”. Her Response: “arhhhh you’re so frustrating” My Response: “you’re so frustrating”. My Response: “Nic don’t cry, it won’t help us” Yes my dear readers, Niki and I were having an expedition into our first marital argument whilst lost in the quiet suburbs of Hoi An. Today, Vietnam decided to throw everything as us and we fell to our knees. Rule No. 6 of being married – Don’t tell your wife not to cry, because it probably your fault that she is in the first place. Niki and I were feeling a little stressed this morning and for good reason, we had just spent 12 hours on an overnight train from Sapa arriving into Hanoi at 4am, before jumping onto a plane bound for Danang, then catching a taxi to the local bus station to jump on the most horned obsessed crazy local bus we have ever travelled on. After stopping and starting for over an hour, we then walked 3 kms into the remote suburbs, the complete opposite direction to our hotel all whilst swimming in 38 degree heat with our huge packs on. Needless to say, things were getting a little heated between us. Now being a man, I take full responsibility… and blame it on my guide book for not telling me there was a second bus stop, which incidentally is where we were dropped off. And due to this reason it was no way my fault for Niki and I being lost. Yes, I told the local man who was trying to help me he was wrong, but that’s the benefit of hindsight. So when I finally found our way, with Niki close to tears, sweat pouring off her from the ridiculously hot walk, me steaming that I was lost, Niki did the only normal thing to do upon entry to a hotel – she fainted! It was no little “Peter I don’t feel so good”, drop to the floor type of faint, it was a climbing up the steps to inspect our room type of faint. One of those moments when I get the chance to act out my Doctor fantasy’s and yell out “we need water here stat! And Nurse mop my brow”.  I’ve never seen so many hotel staff run around before and as she gained consciousness again, I quickly stuck my head in the room, said it looks great and hurried Niki onto the bed. For the next 4 days, everyone would  make sure Niki was treated like a Queen. The Phuoc An Hotel was one of the best budget hotel’s I stayed in in Vietnam, if not the best. The staff were genuinely friendly and all gave excellent service, the rooms were immaculate, the breakfast great and of course free bikes into the town was an added bonus. I would highly recommend you staying here. This was also about the time in our trip that my battle with Giardia finally stopped me in my tracks, I couldn’t move anymore without feeling sick, keeling over due to severe cramps and running to the toilet. It was to the point that I needed to get medication, admit myself to Hospital or take out my pocket knife and slice out my bowel – I preferred the medication option. So after Niki was feeling a bit better we hurried down to the local chemist to get some antibiotics to nuke my bowels. We needed Tinidazole and we knew we could get it over the counter, but not before a game of charades to explain my symptoms. With six people involved and a lot of hand gestures we finally got our message across with the help of a friendly lady who walked in off the street. Who then, with me obviously just explaining my severe problems and sense of urgency as I was holding on for dear life, said “do you want to come down to my Sister’s tailor shop”. Which I politely smiled and said “Umm not right now, I need to go back to bed”. Obviously not letting go that easy and here I thought I might get leniency as I was dying, she said “It won’t take long”.  Which I apologetically responded “Sorry, but it won’t take me long till I burst” and with that I run back to the hotel to sleep for the next 24 hours. The adventures into Hoi An would have to wait for another day and needless to say, things were just warming...