Sadly my venture into Vietnam was merely an exit for my trip to Cambodia. I spent just a few days crossing into the country and heading into Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The second we passed from the border town in Cambodia through the heat sensors ( they are very strict in Vietnam) into the lush, jungle scenery of Vietnam I was immediately regretful I didn’t lengthen my stay. We were headed to a small village just over the border called Chau Doc.
Once I dropped my bags in the hotel I headed back out to explore. There were tons of temples and on the outside of this one were Swastika’s which a lot of people find surprising and offensive. Most people don’t even realize that the Nazi’s stole this symbol from the Buddhists. It can be found all over Asia including India and most people are angry that their symbol of hope and rebirth was turned into something evil and scary by Hitler.
After we were planning on going to the top of the mountain to watch the sunset. There was a restaurant at the top where we could relax and enjoy a drink while waiting for the sun to go down. The motorcycle ride seemed more like a dance with death. When we got to the base of the mountain we were told to make sure we leaned with our drivers, not away from them. Our guide pointed out that most of us out weighed our drivers by about 50 lbs. If we leaned away from them we might make the motorcycle fall over.
I did not want this to happen. Because of that I clamped my thighs on this guy so tight I am surprised I did not break him. I seemed to be nearly a foot taller then him (maybe that’s an exaggeration) and I definitely outweighed him by the estimated 50 lbs. He however seemed completely un-phased by our climb upward. We took a narrow road up the mountain with nothing to keep us from falling off the side. Mid drive his cell phone went off and he proceeded to answer it and have a 10 minute conversation while I silently recited to myself “ This is the day I die”.
With one hand on the wheel we were taking the curves fast and I was trying to keep my eyes closed. I wanted to point out to this guy that the choice to answer his cell phone was probably not a safe one. It seemed doubtful they had cell phone laws in Vietnam and he did not speak a word of English. My cries would fall on deaf ears. Alas we made it to the top alive. There was not a part of me that wanted to get back on the bike and make the trek downward.
The views were pretty awesome. The skies turned from pink to orange while we enjoyed some Ankor Wat’s (Cambodian beer) on the balmy May evening. It was monsoon season the days were hot and humid and the nights were no better. It felt as if you could reach out and grab hold of the air it was so thick. Lucky for me I love the summer and the heat. I hate cold weather. I thrive in the jungle atmosphere. This being the trip that made me realize I would take the heat over the cold any day. Living in New York we sometimes get stuck with pretty cold winters and tons of snow. After the sun disappeared, leaving us with just the sounds of the night we headed back down to our hotel.
I ordered Pho, which is a signature Vietnamese soup made of ox tail. The only thought I had was how sad I was that I wouldn’t be going much further. My trip would end in 2 days time in Ho Chi Min City. I wanted to see all Vietnam had to offer.
Have you ever been to Vietnam? Where did you go?