travel, Vietnam

what a day!

Last night we went to this restaurant where the man who owns it is deaf and uses a pretty universal sign language to communicate with his patrons. his wife and daughter also helped out. he was a character (and went to the bar with us last night) and the food was delicious. Lac (the owner) can open 5 bottles of beer at one time with these bottle openers that he made out of a screw, bolt and piece of wood. He kind of karate chops the end of the bottle opener and all of the bottles are opened. He made us write him messages on his walls (although I don’t think he can read English). It was quite a fun experience.
Today, was the best day yet in Vietnam. We took an all day motorbike tour (mixed with a short stint on a boat on the Perfume River… Vietnam’s most prized river). I vowed to never ride a motorcycle after Adam’s accident, but “when in rome…”. We went all around the city and down dirt roads to check out local markets, huge statutes of Buddhas (some with real human hair used to make their eyelashes, mustaches and beards), temples and pagodas (also like a temple but looks different. I still am not sure what the difference of purpose is between them). I was clenching every muscle in my body when I first got on, but relaxed soon enough. Thankfully we were more out in the country for most of it, although crossing a few busy intersections felt like sure death. At one point, there were motorbikes coming at us from every direction and I look to the right and there is a bus coming towards us, about 15 feet away and with no intentions of stopping. I learned quickly to look at the back of my driver’s head when these intersections came up and the trust the fact that they drive in these conditions everyday. Probably the strangest sight we saw today was an old coloseum. It was used as entertainment for the royal family although it was always the same show. They would release a lion and an elephant into the center and have them duke it out. It was never a surprise as to who one though, because the elephant is prized animal of strength in Vietnam and a lion is considered evil. Because of these beliefs they would cut the lions teeth and claws before the match. If the elephant still couldn’t kill the lion, the emperor would kill it (although I didn’t understand how). We walked above the concrete cages where they kept the lions before they declawed them and there were deep claw marks engraved in the concrete where the lions tried to climb out. The most fun part of the day was all of the children who ran out of their homes to watch us ride by. The most daring ones ran right up to our path and thrust their hands out for a high five.
Tomorrow we are on to Hoi An for the beach and getting clothes tailored. We have two more cities (Nha Tran and Ho Chi Minh, which used to be called Saigon) until our tour ends. Everyone in my group is staying an extra 3-4 days, so we may all go out to the coast for a few days after the tour is over to unwind from all of the travel and the chaos that is supposed to be Ho Chi Minh City).
Love to everyone!


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