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Published: March 27th 2010
Sunrise in Vietnam
The sunrise as we make our way through the rice paddies of southern Vietnam.
OK -- yesterday was quite possibly the longest day of travel yet. We awoke at 4am in Southern Vietnam - traveled through the already bustling streets of Chau Doc (not with traffic and noise like Ho Chi Minh City, but busy with the work of the day - setting up restaurant tables, street vendors stocking goods etc). We started traveling west toward the Cambodian border (actually this area of Vietnam was part of Cambodia until the mid 1800's). It did not take long for the activity to pick up in the streets. Buddhists were heading to their temple first thing in the morning - the music of the pagoda was in the air. And then we just kept traveling... amazing how our eyes and brains became accustomed to the scene... Dirt road as wide as the bus, 3-4 people on a motorbike sneaking around the bus to pass, rice drying on a tarp on the side of the road - a bicycle driving through it, house after house made of pieces of wood or sheet metal or dried grasses, hammocks in a row, a rice field, child-sized plastic chairs with adults resting in them, a pile of bricks, a pile of
Very strong coffee is pressed through this small filter, where it sits on top of sweetened condensed milk. You then stir gently to create a smooth, eye-opening drink. Even better over ice, but it's best to stay away from local water!
trash, a pile of rice bags, clothes out to dry, fish out to dry, a chicken roaming, a rooster under a basket, fruit in a basket, someone balancing a basket on her head... Many people followed the bus with their eyes, many looked indifferent. Life in full swing, and there was work to be done.
Most of us dozed on and off uncomfortably for the 9 or so hours of driving to arrive back in Ho Chi Minh City -- for our flight to Dalat. At the 8 and a half hour mark, Helen discovered something -- the seats reclined!! We all got a big kick out of that -- and reclined in relative comfort for the last 1/2 hour of the journey. The flight seemed to be in the blink of an eye after all of that ground travel -- and we got off the plane to the most amazing thing... cool air. Oh my -- I was almost cold! The next stunning thing was arriving in the city of Dalat -- what a contrast to what we had just been driving through (sort of like going from Amish Country to Vegas). Neon, Karaoke, a replica of the
9 out of 13 vacationers agree: this place is better than Starbucks!
Eiffel Tower?? -- anyway -- we enjoyed a meal of steaming squid, prawns, chicken pieces, steamed rice and zucchini. Are you going to let me get away with saying - "we"?? Our kids thanked God for the steamed rice -- think we'll start those multi-vitamins tomorrow...
How did you enjoy the boxed breakfast on the bus?? David: Best sandwich I've had in a long time - maybe because someone cut the little crusts off for me. Kris: The chocolate croissant was divine. Jake: The danish with the chocolate inside was off the chisel. (I think that means it was good). Sig: It covered the food pyramid, but it was a little difficult to eat fruit that needs to be peeled when you're in a bus and don't have the utensils.
What song represents today's travel for you? Judy: It's a Hard Day's Night (Beatles). Carly and Abby: Every Day is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow). Jake: I got a Feeling (Black-Eyed Peas)-- because the day was tiring, but I knew the night was going to be OK David: Run through the Jungle (CCR)
Describe your white coffee at the Tigon Cafe (a little cafe
Big red Rooster
This and other roosters sit outside the gas station. Inside, less fortunate chickens are being butchered on the floor in clear eyesight of curious passers-by.
along the way): Doug: White coffee - isn't. It's black and strong and lingers for an hour. Helen: White coffee is the best. I like it best over ice. It's sweet. Will: "I think I'm having my crash." Carly: I had black coffee, not white -- it was incredibly strong and thick. Larry: You never know what you're going to get. it can curl your hair -- or taste like a milkshake Sig: Be sure to check the pitcher on the table before pouring it in your coffee - many times it's soy sauce.
Compare the Tigon Cafe to a Starbucks: Abby: more stuff that I like at Starbucks like a white mocha latte. And Starbucks has food -- and I was starving, because I didn't enjoy my 5am breakfast box. Kris and David: We liked it because it's the only one in the world - and any schmoe can find a Starbucks on any corner. Kris: There aren't orchids hanging from the ceiling in Starbucks.
How important are travel documents? Doug: Just ask the Hoags in 90 days if you can find them. Tracy: Don't throw anything out!!! What would I need customs forms for anyway??? Sig:
Rice Paddy Worker
"On my way to work!"
Especially in a communist country - don't loose your passport and don't throw your customs forms away. This would have been a huge problem 10 years ago -- but today (because they want to encourage the tourism) they'll make it work.
What is good way to kill flies on a bus: Will: Wacking at them with a tissue, Jake: looking at them sideways -- and then blind-siding them.
What's your fly killing record? Helen, Will and Jake: 34 and a half (the 1/2 because it was little) as a team
How long is long? David: the first time we heard, "Are we there yet?" was after 9 hours -- I thought that was pretty long. Judy: Long is the ride with seats that don't recline. David: When no amount of shifting or adjusting can bring comfort... then you know it's been long.
We'll explore the city a little on Saturday and rest a little and then blog a little. Thanks for tuning in!! We'll be in touch.
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