Friday, 17 June 2011

Being Lazy

So it's been a week since my last post, which is bloody slack of me. But when you're having a good time the best thing to do is keep going. That's not to say I'm not having a good time at the moment. I'm just taking a break to catch you all up.

As you may know Chris has joined me in Vietnam for a month of travel. If you didn't know this already then you didn't read my previous blog. Shame on you! Here is some ocular proof that Chris is in Vietnam:

Musing in HCMC
Seeing as it's taken me so long to write this blog entry I have a lot to fill you in on. I'll start at the beginning, a logical starting point if ever there was one. Chris joined me on Friday last week in the amazing Ho Chi Minh City. I was waiting at the airport for him to arrive when he popped up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. It's great that he spotted me, because I sure as hell hadn't seen him. What a terrible job of meeting him at the airport I did. He wasn't particularly bothered and neither was I. We headed back to the city centre to get Chris acquainted with the crazy pace of Vietnam's biggest city and with the local beer.

Needless to say, Chris was knackered so we both called it an early night with plans set for the next day. The following day we visited some of the tourist hotspots and historical sights in HCMC. That night we spent at the local steetside pub, pissing it up with the locals. We had planned on going to Apocalypse Now after pre-drinks, but pre-drinks evolved (very quickly) into 4 litres of bia hoi a piece and all thoughts of Apocalypse Now (and even moving) rapidly dissipated. It was an amazing night out that didn't really get very far, but was definitely better than anything we could have planned.

The next day was a very relaxed affair. We meandered around for a while and spent a few hours in the parks before heading down to catch the sunset from the Saigon River. It was there that we met Frederigo (pictured below). We caught motos back from the Saigon River to the park opposite Pham Ngu Lao street. A flower show had been set up in this park and the whole park was lit up with neon lights and adorned with bamboo displays. We found a local who spoke a little English and she explained that the Vietnamese people were voting for their national flower and all the flowers on display were the candidates. It was an amazing festival to be part of. The people seemed so excited to be choosing a national symbol and we were lucky enough to drop right into the middle of it.

The omnipotent Frederigo

The festival of flowers in the park
The next day was one of the best I've had in Vietnam. Chris and I got up at the crazy hour of 08:00 and headed to the local bus station. We were going to the Cu Chi tunnels and we planned on going there solely by local transport. It turned out to be the best decision we could have made. It was incredibly easy to catch the correct buses and it was a lot cheaper than going with an organised tour. The journey there and back cost only 18 000 dong each (roughly R6). The Cu Chi tunnels were everything I'd hoped they would be and more. We watched an old propaganda film from the late '60s and were then promptly led to the entrance of the tunnels. The entrance we were led to was a tiny rectangle roughly 40x30cm. It was crazy to think that not so long ago this was the only means by which people could enter and exit the tunnels. Fortunately that's changed to accommodate tourists and slightly fat people. You can now enter the tunnels through proper staircases although the tunnels remain the same.

An idea of size. That was big.
Entering the tunnels was fantastic! And not a little unnerving. Our first tunnel experience was a very short hop between two rooms underground. It was a quick 3m walk on our haunches. But our guide didn't plan on letting us off easy. The next tunnel we went through was slightly longer at about 10m and included a right-angle turn. A few more short tunnels between rooms followed and then the guide stopped us all.

"Anyone with heart problems or respiratory problems or anyone afraid of the dark or small spaces go through this tunnel," he said, "The rest of you follow me."

Going in...
We knew something big lay ahead. And it was massive. The guide took us through a tunnel that measured roughly 150m in length. There were numerous twists and turns and even a narrowing of the tunnel. In the middle of the tunnel there was a section about 10m long without any lights. The tunnel tilted down, narrowed and turned a corner at this very point. It was bloody terrifying! At this stage we were about 6m underground, with no lights and no idea where we were going. Turning around was impossible so the only thing to do was to plunge ahead and hope you didn't crash into the person in front of you. Sight was completely eliminated and we were forced to rely on touch and sound alone to navigate. Knowing that the tunnel had narrowed around you didn't exactly make things easier.
Into the abyss

We climbed out of the tunnels with our adrenaline pumping, sweating like pigs and laughing like maniacs. It was superb!

I should have ended my blog at that point had I written it earlier, but as the title implies, I was too damn lazy to write it up earlier. I blame that entirely on Mui Ne. Those damn beaches are so alluring and relaxing that you couldn't be asked to move yourself and share your experiences with the world (Or rather the 18 people who read this).

Going back to Mui Ne was awesome! I felt like the prodigal son returning. I was greeted warmly by all the people who remembered me and was pleasantly surprised to know that they had actually remembered me. I remembered them, of course, but to be recognised and greeted so warmly was such a brilliant surprise.

Mui Ne welcomed me back into the fold and I fell straight back into the relaxed pace of life. Getting up late and going to the beach for a swim then relaxing in the shade in the afternoons. Mui Ne reasserted its hold over me almost instantly. I like to think it had the same effect on Chris who joined me in all my strenuous relaxing and beachgoing. That was an intended oxymoron by the way.

On our final day in Mui Ne (yesterday, as I write this), Chris and I hired motorbikes and headed out to see the surrounding area. We went to the red sanddunes just outside Mui Ne and were unimpressed. We then cruised along the beach to a tiny fishing village about 20km outside Mui Ne. We watched some local lads flying kites in the growing wind and decided that we should get to the Cham tower before the heavy weather set in. We cruised back along the coast and Chris's petrol seemed to evaporate. He went from having a nearly full tank to driving in the red in roughly 20 minutes. I told him not to worry we'd get there and back easily. I was, naturally, correct. We got to the Cham tower without so much as a splutter from his moto and promptly set about jumping between old war bunkers on the hilltop. The Cham tower took a back seat as Chris tried to take a photo of me jumping between two remnants of the Vietnam-USA war. I must have jumped the gap roughly 40 times before Chris got that damned photo. It was my first taste of parkour in Vietnam and it was done roughly 50m from a historical site, on top of another historical site. It was awesome!
The final shot
When doing parkour make sure your dong is secure

P.S. That rhymes, courtesy of Chris.

No comments:

Post a Comment