Friday, 11 December 2015

Mr.My, the Motorcycle Man (or getting sunburned in December)

I wake up at 5:30 and am at the beach before 6 am.

WHAT is going on here?

On Plage du Silllon I would have been 1 our of 3 people along the kilometers of gorgeous beach.  NOT so here.

As Grandma said on the phone when I told her about the crowds of Vietnamese on the beach "They still know what's good".   

Fishermen drag their weird round fishing tubs into the ocean. Middle age without shoes walk the waterline. I fit right in.  Large groups of younger men use the volleyball nets that are spatttered along the beach.  Darn. They do know what's good ;-)

Yes, it is still so dark that the statue illumination is effective

I'm still at a loss how anyone could steer one of these round tubs!

A shower  in a fancy bathroom AND with HOT water is a nice change ;-)

There is a 'window' connecting the shower to the main room

Breakfast is simple (hey,  it's free) but  again I get coffee (Sai Gon style) that would wake a dead dog if only poured over its tail.  MUST NOT drink this stuff again!

8 am . 1 hour to go until Mi the Motorcycle Man shows up. Maybe I'll get the Hue post finally online. That means returning to the site of the chicken murder though.  Silly squeamishness!

The fact that the tasteless Canadian chickens are killed far from the plate should be reason to search out the places where one can hear them voice their last clucks before they're eaten. Done: Post Published ;-)

My (pronounced Me) is at the hotel at 10 to 9 and we strap my small backpack to the tank, I put on my helmet, climb on the back, and off we go towards the first destination: The Lady Buddha.  Apparently teenage girls pray here to capture their chosen one because they think another woman hears them better ;-)

You'll see a lot more of My's helmet in this post
The Lady Buddha.  Apparently teenage girls pray here to increase their chances of getting the
We stop in a tiny side street 2 blocks from the hotel.  He wants to show me how the little round fishing boats are made:
After some linguistic confusion, I finally understand that the woven structure subsequently is coated by the unwanted grease of  swine and buffaloes from the slaughterhouse.  YUMMY.

But there are 'real'  boats  too, no doubt rendered water tight by the same method

My, the Easy Rider and the Ride

I feel uneasy taking  pictures in the temple since many Vietnamese are performing their private religious rites.  According to My, 60% of Vietnamese are Buddhists. Since everyone seems to drink beer like a fish, smoke like chimney, and eat meat like there won't be any left tomorrow, I'm sure Buddha must have granted a universal extension to the Vietnamese.

I find out that my guide and driver is only one year younger than I am.

He too prays in the temple, for his deceased father.

My, the photographer in action ;-(

Da Nang's fishing fleet below

We leave the place after he tells me not to buy cigarettes here and to smoke his instead. 

Next destination: Monkey Mountain

Green stuff grows here like crazy:  This is actually a full-sized lamp post covered in ranking greens.

We've been driving through clouds for a while; I've even been considering putting on my hoodie.   When we get to the top, the clouds obscure most of the panorama shots ;-(

The Americans built these radar installations during the Vietnam War. Da Nang was in the South, whereas Hue apparently was in the DMZ, the demilitarized zone.

Monkeys populated these hills before the Americans came but then left. Wise monkeys indeed ;-)
Enough Monkey Mountain. Next destination: Ocean Cloud Pass

Empty roads in Vietnam?  NOT photoshopped !

And yes, then we stop on the side, right in the middle of the bridge span, so I can take a picture.  Standard driving practice here, no matter how busy the road

transporting a ladder AND a LOOOONG metal pipe

When I see another beach at the side of the road, I ask My to stop.  Red Beach, I think it's called. There is not a single other soul on that gorgeous beach.  

We see another instance of Gaia's bra out for washing, so this time I ask My what this is all about.  The nets (that is indeed what they are) are lowered into the water at night, whereupon a light above the centre is switched on. Fish are attracted to light, pull up net, catch lotsa fish.  At least they're not dynamiting them.

We' re heading to Ocean Cloud Pass. The real one.  The train only went underneath it. So apparently does a new tunneled road leading to Hue. But we take the old road up to the pass ;-)

My stops again and points down the hill.  'Your train'. I check my watch and indeed it is the train that I arrived on yesterday coming out of a tunnel and winding itself like a blue snake through the valley

But we're still not at the height of the pass yet.  My ears are popping.

Still climbing

When we reach Ocean Cloud Pass I realize that it's a prime tourist area.  Buy from me then I happy.  You buy from her, why not also buy from me.

Things that tourists seem to love to look at are American bunkers and border installations from the previous Viet-Chinese border if I understood it correctly

Again I am reminded of how seriously the Vietnamese take their wedding pictures 

They're posing on top  of an American bunker ;-)

Ocean Clouds Pass; a fitting name

The view South

The view North

The tourist area at Ocean Cloud Pass

I'm not the only one taking pictures

Then it's down the pass road again.  

This is Highway # 1 connecting Ha Noi and Sai Gon.  I'm standing right in the middle of it.  The oncoming truck is honking.  When he passes, I see that it wasn't to get me off the road.  The driver is waving!

Shortly after we pass the cow, we stop for lunch at a simple Vietnamese eatery by the road. The meal costs 35,000 Dong (CAD 2) and I eat everything, including the green peppers.

 I'm reminded of the Vietnamese-Australians who used sanitizing-gel on their hands whenever they had a chance. My (the driver) hands me my bowl and then breaks the very crusty bread into it.  I'm sure he hasn't washed his hands in a while but then I'm not the squeamish type.

During lunch I find out that his father died when he was 21. My father  died when I was 18 so I can relate a little.  But then I find out that like many other Vietnamese his father worked for the Americans when Da Nang was under American control.  When the Northern Army won the war, they thanked the 'collaborators' by putting them in jail.  
My's father spent 6 years in jail under probably not the best conditions, and died 2 years after he was released.  When I ask My whether that increased his love for the communists, he first smiles a dark smile, but  then points out that the communist regime in Vietnam has changed dramatically in the last 20  years.

  Having cleaned out my bowl, we leave just in time before the pigs arrive.

Next stop:  Some area with waterfalls where the Vietnamese hang out during weekends in the summer to party it up.  It's pretty much deserted now in December.

What if the flimsy bridges are designed for the weight of the average Vietnamese man or woman.  It'll break like matchsticks under my weight!

It's a long way down

my mind is filled with thoughts of splintering wood and riding the rapids

There are some locals after all
I  limit myself to sticking my feet into the surprisingly warm water

Time to leave and head back to Da Nang. My butt hurts from sitting on the bike for a long time and I notice that my arms are sunburned. 

tractor in rice field. the tractor's wheels look like a watermill wheel

Talking to My I also made up my mind about going further South.   He confirms my suspicions that formed when seeing the line of Highrise Hotels lining the beach  in Nha Trangh. And he also confirms what I have heard from others.  That the people of Saigon have their noses too high in the air.  Something about money and things happening there. The name Toronto ring a bell?

Some guys in an SUV from LAOS behind me

the beginning of the end of Da Nang

But I booked my ticket to Siem Reap. The ticket price and convenience was just too good not to make  use of.  In 9 days I will be back in Vancouver and I'm wondering where the time went.  

Checking for some sea-shells to bring back for Grandma, a habit  started when I found a gorgeous St Jaques in Brittany, I run into a shell  BONANZA. as soon as I think I've found the best shell ever, there is an even better one!

I'm getting hungry but I don't want to go back to the chicken killers. I walk the length of the restaurants for about a kilometer and end up at Be Man B.  Oh what the heck, it's PacKET with Vietnamese, it can't be that bad.

I get a table (#36 out of >100) and the Wifi password. Now how do I order? The waiter points me towards the boards at the other end.  There are bowls with live fish, shelly things and squibbly things everywhere.  
I see a dish walking by and ask its name and want to order it. Not so easy. I have to grab one of the guys with a basket, and drag him to the basket with the animal in question.  Oh, and Chip Chip is NOT french fries.Then I tell him my table # and wait for things to happen. I ordered 3 Mui So, fries, and a LaRue beer (They offered me Heineken first, LOL) The fries are greasy and boiling hot, and that's not ketchup but Vietnamese chilly hot sauce ;-)

The shelly things will be cooked on humongous BBQ pits. At 69,000 per shell I will actually get to eat some seafood today.  I'm not sure how my 3 ordered one turned into 6.  2 shells per animal I guess. On first glance they look like giant scallops, but on second glance they are fiendishly more complex. Organs again ;-(  But I can't let these Vietnamese know that Germans are big wimps ;-)

Be Man B

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