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Published: September 14th 2016
They call it stormy Monday....and Tuesday's just as bad.....It was a very stormy Monday, windy and persisting down rain all day...unusually so....crossing Tran Thi Ly bridge where last week the repercussion of thunder claps over my shoulder bowled me across 3 lanes, last night I was blown across 3 lanes, water gushing, plastic poncho billowing out like Michellin man....the rubber-to-road ratio of a bald-tyred 125 Honda is scary......and then smacked in the head by a huge moth.....Sister, did you see the size of the balls on that moth?....it was Mothra....it was Behemothra...how was it surviving in this weather? A special specie of bad weather moth?
Of course the forecast....I believe here we only have postcasts....was for a really big storm on Tuesday....didn't they notice it was here...now...Monday?....So they ordered all the schools closed on Tuesday....Although it was pretty windy this morning, it's been a fine and sunny day...all the kids are laughing!
I had another weekend away with my little friends, such wonderful organisers although it's always a bit last-minutish so we had hard sleepers on the way down and sit-ups on the return.......if you can plan more than 25 seconds ahead you can get the soft sleepers....ooooh....luxury!!........the hard
sleepers have 3 tier bunks and the top one, yes, I was there, have about 15 cms of space so you feel like a cross between a limbo dancer and whatever you call those idiots who crawl into impossibly narrow rock clefts....even my companion Ms Na was complaining that she wasn't able to drink from her water bottle....she also had a top bunk! Anyways, I slept ok and we got to Ninh Hoa in the early morning, rocked out of the station to find some funky street food speciality of this area, bus to Van Gia's quaint but dangerous wharf to board the high speed racing boat out to Han Bip island.
Did I ever tell you about the Bem Bip bird? It is sort of famous. If the baby bird breaks it's leg (how the fuck this could happen is not explained in the legend but...) the mother bird flies off, returning with some secret leaves that it binds around the broken chick's leg and hey, viola, the leg is miraculously healed. So of course everyone is onto it and wants to know what is this magic herb. ( warning: kids, look away now) so they find a
Bem Bip bird's nest, with chick, and break the chick's leg....oi gioi oi....all in the name of the greater good (?) then they wait while the mother bird flies off.....when she returns they grab her, force her to regurgitate the magic leaves.....and identify the stomach contents......but so far, and this has been going on for generations.....of people, not birds......nothing identifiable has been identified. Is this another one of Mr Ripley's conundrums?
So, out to the island, a small resorty type place, all new concrete and brick walls, concrete floor, a few bamboo huts on sticks at the waters edge for sleeping rooms....wtf? ....and of course it's time for another course.......of course, when Vietnamese people travel, particularly women, it's pretty necessary to have something to eat at least every 6 or 7 minutes.....it's amazing to see women who normally peck at a few morsels at 5 hour intervals going into this death frenzy of gorging at every opportunity...even between opportunities! However, not for me to make any judgement, just observing.....
Usually, when a Vietnamese woman boards any form of transport within a few minutes she will either throw up or fall asleep, it's just one of those things.....and the
throwing up is so discrete, more like a little cough. On the busses the conductors go around as the bus takes off, handing out plastic bags.
Ok, too much information. Back on the island.....it's pretty small but a rugged central mountain pokes up....there's about 2,000 people live here the cop tells me...but where are they?.....we settle into tables and chairs.....of course, time for lunch. After great fresh seafood and a fitful nap we stumbled along the beach about 1 km to the school. Outside the school, under a huge mango tree, a few dozen men, women and lots of baby agey kids were lounging around. We started handing out biscuits and a raggedy crowd of kids lined up. The kids on the island outnumber the adults by about 3 to 1 I'd reckon....that's what you get with only 3 hours of electric every evening.... it's off to bed at 8pm and, you know, it's too early to sleep.....and there's no medical/health advice, service, assistance, education for the poor women.....very much the same in all the fringe provinces.....however, they're quick to point out that pregnancy gives them a break from the incessant husbandly advances.
I had bought a bunch
of colouring books and pencils for the kids.....but there were sooo many of them......kids.......I gave them to someone who looked a bit sharper than the rest and entrusted her to distribute them.
Along the beach it was shallow, muddy, sharp shelly and stinky so we couldna swim....feeling Scottish, Out back looked better....we were hanging out for deeper waters, Thanks Paul....Loan was thinking of renting a kayak but.....I suggested getting a fishing boat....the wind you know......so.....
on Sunday morning someone somehow got a local fisherman to take us out....we hammered out across the bay, hahaha, hammered hardly, but the little diesel thumped away in its everlasting eternal whump, whump, whump.....little deserted islands, millions of fishing boats out in the distance......foam bouys marking nets or pots, in the middle of nowhere suddenly a line appeared in front of us, a submerged sand bar, the boat slowed and the bow scraped up onto the sand. We jumped over and even as we watched the tidal flow receded and a 2m wide sand bar, about 500 m long emerged.....well, over the next half hour....but it was pretty amazing!
I finned up and went snorkelling, the inland side of this sand bar
was a few square kms...a good sized bay....it was all only 1m deep, big mobs of little fish, the whole gazoombah of colours and shapes, a little octopus evaded my clutching hands into a maze of coral....lots of corals.....certainly not your Barrier reef mega-palette but pretty cool.....very subtle shades of browny yellow, browny green and......browny brown?
Then back to the new donga where we'd slept over on the concrete floor......after we'd had dinner the night before, the woman laid out a few mats, whipped out some frames and in an astounding feat of prestigitation, a flick of the wrist, and little mozzie net tents sprang from her hands......I was able to collapse mine almost as quickly when I tried to climb in......she reset it for me without a hint of condensation......or condescension.....and it is remarkable how beer softens the hardest concrete floors....We were rudely awakened by an enormous cock....don't go there...it was in a cage right beside our 'beds' and fired up right on 4am......the start of the cock-a-doodle-doo was sharp, tasty, on key....but after the first crescendo it just faded away like an electrical connection had been severed.....we all cracked up.....then rolled over onto the less-painful hip and
went back to sleep.....
So, backtracking.....after the skindiving....another meal and then the same guy took us across to the mainland....oh yeah, and exactly where
on the mainland are we heading? We approached a very straggly wharf, and I use the term heavily...... Then we bottomed out about 20m shy. Our captain waded across and grabbed a floating bamboo barge thing and ferried us to shore. We tramped a couple of kms along the levee banks between the prawn farms. All along this coast they have been rooting out the mangroves and building fucking prawn farms....all along this coast the fish numbers are down to buggery....hmmmm.....see the pattern? And when you go to Woolies and buy those tasteless frozen prawns...think about it.
The East Sea, or South Chine Sea, is/was one of the most fertile fishing grounds in the world, in fact I believe it was absolutely the richest.....but now it's disappearing fast. Not only the coastal rumbuggery but also the Chinese island building and mass fishing and coral scraping and shit.....
So, we found a small taxi in the shade of a tree....wtf indeed....he seemed reluctant to take us but these women are not to be trifled
with....I am so fortunate to have these travel companions!! .......after some negotiationing......we all piled in......happily, being the biggest....and a bloke....I get the front seat, the four women in the back.....hey, but 3 of them are really slender....ok I get it.
A hotel near a resort, another beach, another meal or 3, swimming in the morning, bus to town, and the train home....254 podcast episodes later....voila, Da Nang.
Next weekend it might be a little trip north to Hue.....it's a cool train trip up the coast.....
Well, there you go, nothing for months and now it's raining blogs!
Oh, and 1 more thing....jeez, will anyone get this far?.....I have an idea to open an English book shop and coffee...books to buy, borrow, exchange or steal.........a small shop front.....we don't have any English book shop here in DN.......Anyways, I'm asking you all (in Oz of course) to save all those books you were going to give away, throw out or give to the Salvos.....and hang on to them...keep a box in the garage or something.....anything!!....kids books, pulp fiction, airport novels, classics, yippies, comics, coffee table mags even.....not women's weekly.....hahaha........I'm not sure how I'm going to get them back
here but I will find a way! Thanks....
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