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Published: March 24th 2017
Nice breakfast on the 5th floor of the hotel. It came on a "hot plate" and included 2 fried eggs, some deli ham, tomatoes accompanied by a nice fresh VN baguette. On going to the hotel's garage I spotted a nice trike. A Can-Am Spyder. Belongs to the son of the "night watchman" at the hotel. It's a "beast"!!
From Khe San had to back-track about 6 kms to get on the road south to our next destination. There was very little traffic and it seemd like we went for km after km before even coming across a local. All the little communites had wooden houses built on stilts for coolness dring the hot summers. We could see inside as they all lacked doors - and the only furnishings appeared to be straw matting. The "kitchen" was always outside - usually under shelter. We made many stops for bum rest and water and photos - and it's then we got a chance to meet the locals - who were mainly children who wanted to come and say "hi". There is a difference in complexion and language with these mountain people. It was hard to understand what little VN language I
know - as they have their own dialect in this region. It seemed like all the communities are quite poor - and eek out a living by harvesting cinnamon, bamboo, timber and bananas. They sure were friendly peoples. The ride was quite good - as for much of the time we had the road to ourselves so could "wander" a little. Lots of bends and some straight stretches following the course of a river. All the time it seemed like we were climbing - until we got to a point where there was a tunnel that took us to another valley. Sometimes there were some obstacles on the road like small herds of cows or goats. The scenery on this day was just spectacular.
A Luoi is a "one street" town. Only 1 hotel and 2 guest houses. We checked into the hotel - but at the time never checked all the room facilities like the AC, internet, TV, fans etc. I noticed there was no min-bar so had to take my insulin and place it in the hotel kitchen fridge. As it was lunch time - we ate at the small cafe next to the hotel. I had
a plate of french fries which were surprisingly very good. Washed down with a cold beer was even better. Garry and Vickie had stayed in this hotel/town before - and advised that there was not much to do - but the central market was worthwhile seeing. Which Garry and I did while Vickie took a nap. I also had an adjustment made to my bike. When they replaced the tube in Khe Sahn - the had missed securing the mud guard to the frame (I wondered what the rattle was all the way from Khe Sahn). A local bike shop mechanic stopped working on a bike - and spent about 15 minutes fixing mine. When I asked the price - he said to see a lady who appeared to be the "garage manager". She then referred me back to the mechanic who indicated no charge. I gave him a small tip for his trouble and everyone was happy. It's not the first time that I have encountered such friendliness with the locals.
Garry and then did a "main-ey" - and he took me to see some structures that were under construction last time he past through. Very surpised to
see a relatively new complex that included a UH1B chopper as part of a "memorial", 2 football pitches with artificial turf and night lighting, a garden that was still be prepared, and an adjoining complex that had what will be a museum, gift shop, cafe and some other facilities. We encounterd a bunch of local kids who were enjoying a water fight to stay cool during the afternoon heat.
Got back to the hotel in time to have an early dinner. The only place we could find was the cafe next to the hotel - where we had the lunchtime snack. I ordered some grilled pork along with - you guessed it - more French fries. This time they were not as good as the earlier batch. But the meal and cold beers was very cheap - so no complaints. We also met a German couple who were travelling with their own private driver and guide. It was good to get into some German language conversation with them, as well as English. With nothing else to do for the evening -we headed to our rooms. Vickie had enjoyed her afternoon nap in the room - and had only used
the AC. When I went to my room - I found no controller for the AC. As the room was warm I tried the fan. The fan oscillated - but the blades did not turn. What the..?? OK - put on the TV and lets see. The coat hanger for an aerial told me that not only might there not be TV but probably was not cable as well. Correct assumption. OK - let me try the internet. What internet??
My room was alongside G&V - so I ventured next door to see how they were fairing. I could see they had a set-top box and a modem (neither of which I had). However neither of them gave the desired results. We got the young "night watch-woman" up to see if she was as good as the bike mechanic I had earlier in the day. Not quite. Her and Garry fiddled around with all the electrical stuff attached to TV and wall sockets but to no avail. Meanwhile she also got several AC remotes and had me try those. Couldn't get anything to work. I ended up going to a room across the hall - where I found that
an AC remote would work. I needed to wash some underwear and a t-shirt - and then found out no hot water. Back across the hall to another room where there was hot water - and washed clothes there. Went to use the fan in second room - and found that fan not working. So back to room three and got that fan going and hung said laundry in front on a coat hanger. Now - the AC, fan and hot water worked in room #3 - so moved my stuff in to that. OK - nice ot shower - and ready for a good night sleep. I noticed that there were no top sheets on any of the beds - only a hairy blanket thingy. Not sure that these things got washed after each guest - I took the bottom sheet off the other bed in my room and used that as top sheet. The best I could get on the TV was some fuzzy Asian reality shows and some local films. Oh well...I was tired.......
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