Friday, March 31, 2006
Frankly, I don't really care much for this country. The lush and misty rice paddies, sandy beaches, ramshackle temples and colourful market places are all a bit dull really. All the history, the mysticism, the humanity. The shopping!
I'm not charmed at all by the brightest smiles and wildest waves 'hello' of all the excited little children we pass, or the soft sing-song voices and gentle manners of our local guides, or by the poise and serenity of the school girls gliding by on their bicycles, beautiful oi zais rippling in their wake.
Really, when have I EVER got a thrill out of pretty little calves, puppies, piglets, ducklings or chickens? Or elephants for that matter. And quite truthfully, I'm sick and tired of the endless parade of wonderful local specialities that have crossed my table- fresh, tasty, surprising, cheap and satisfying. Add to that the monotony of the constant supply of great coffee, fresh fruit, baguettes and spring rolls to die for and I'm going to be coming home a few sizes smaller!
As the wobbly texta lines on my map creep ever northward, the climate softens, friendships deepen, wallets lighten and belts loosen, I wonder, why on earth did I ever come to this bloody country?
Back in OZ oh so soon.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
My few days in the wilderness of the Central Western Highlands was, as you guessed, FANTASTIC. Beautiful countryside, wonderful people, more tasty food. My big highlight came after a triumphant tramp down the last mountainside in our big trek, descending on our tiny little village, marching along the rice paddy walls when my eye was caught by the saggy grey bottom of a munching, lumbering elephant! Nearly fell into the rice paddy with juvenile giddiness. Got to meet her later on and fell in love, very very quickly.
Dinner at our second long house home stay
From wooden floors for beds, wake-ups at 5am (care of rude roosters, birthing puppies & propaganda radio) and a distinct lack of running water to... heavenly Hoi An. This place is THE BEST. Fighting my materialistic urge (badly), giving in to my greedy side, wallowing in the charm of this beautiful old place. Certainly no cure for my new coffee drinkers' tick, gluttons' elbow, motorbikers' bum or dancers' blisters.
I should leave it there this time. You all should try to make it here sometime. Beautiful Hoi An.
View from our office
Saturday, March 18, 2006
It seems like a while ago now, but my time in the Mekong was terrific. Rice paddys, stilt homes, water buffalo (can we get a water buffalo?), boat trips swinging in hammocks and watching the watery world slip by. Also some sobering moments like the killing fields in Ba Chuc where 3157 Vietnamese were slaughtered in just a few days by the Khmer Rouge. There were three survivors, one of whom, a quiet pensive old woman that sold us water and snacks, saw her husband shot, her 6 daughters raped horribly and killed before she was raped and shot. She lost close to 100 family members that week. This country has seen so much violence.
I was very lucky to have a local friend in Saigon, Tuan, who looked after me and showed me the sites from the best possible vantage- the back of a motorbike, swirling along in the swarm of surprisingly calm fellow bikers. He was the perfect host.
Now? Nha Trang for the most delicious seafood cooked on street corners clear blue waters, long sandy beaches and manicures/pedicures for less than $2 Australian!
I have landed myself in a great group of travellers who have taken care of me and been thrown together with Penny from Brighton. A better room mate you could not find. Apart from my glamorous eye patch (a bug flew into it and left it pretty ugly but don't worry, I'm FINE) and a little hangover this morning from too much local beer and dancing and way too little sleep, I am well and having a fantastic time.