Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Vietnam Day 3 - Tuesday Morning

We awoke early and dressed for the day. After my shower I found Phuc on the floor with the contents of my suitcase. She was systematically going through the contents and I was shortly to learn that she had taken every bit of foreign currency that I was travelling with, a mix of USD and Aussie dollars. Some of this was spending money and Phuc would have had the benefit of it plus leftovers, some was my emergency reserve that experience has told me I need. I confronted her with this theft but she merely said "give to mummy" and kept repeating that. I was a bit angry but had the foreigners dillema of not being able to explain why I was angry. This soured the day ahead and rang alarm bells in my head.
We met her brother and another person for breakfast which Phuc paid for. With my money. We then proceeded to her parents place where I was left to my own devices for some time.
Breakfast with Phuc, Hai and one other.
We suddenly hit the road I was informed that we were "going to Tri Ton" and when I pressed for details was brushed off with "later". I thought at first that it was just the four of us, Phuc another man whose name I never got, Hai her brother, who was ferrying me around, and myself. That is four of us with Phuc and myself as pillion on 2 motorbikes driven by the others. These two guys were our nominated drivers and ferried us around most of the time. This trip however turned out to be a road trip with others including Mother, cousin Tien, sister, sisters boyfriend and various children. Later in the day we were joined by even more.
We passed by rice paddies and through villages and took the back roads rather than the main thoroughfares. I could see duck farms and people working the paddies and lovely vistas. With the sun shining down and lovely Vietnamese rural scenes it was a pleasant ride. If I were to visit this area again I would bring a professional camera and arrange my own transport so that I could stop where and when I wanted to to take photos.
Frustratingly I had no idea where we were going or what we were doing or how long it would take. At one stage we crossed a canal via a steep narrow bridge, barely wide enough for 3 people to walk abreast. As we approached I expected to get off the bike and walk across but we just rode straight over it.
We arrived at our destination. This seemed to be a cafe in the middle of nowhere. There was a bus stop, and what looked like a military establishment across the road. The bikes were parked and we waited. I was not sure for what. However shortly one of the boys who had dissapeared came back with a case of beer. Then the cafe owner who had also dissapeared came back with some food, jugs, cups and ice.
Tien (red top), Mother (yellow), sister's boyfriend (white t-shirt).
I was still confused but we picked up the goods and walked up the road about 100 metres and then entered what I guessed to be a Theme Park. We were the only visitors. Phuc took care of payment, which I assumed was paid for by the money that she had taken from me. (Park entry fee 15,000VND each - less than $1). I believe that the park is called "Khu Du Lich Tuc Dup"
The park had a series of tourist souvenir shops and eating establishments. The first thing that we came across was a crocodile compound. Near that was a boating lake.
Phuc and "Jin", boats in the background.
We followed a pathway that led up the side of a rocky hill. The rocks had numbers and markings painted on them. It reminded me of pictures of airforce target practice ranges that I have seen. I could not see evidence of bombing or bullet marks however. We didn't explore far however. We stopped at the top of a flight of stairs. At the top we explored a small cave and then we waited. The family chatted amongst themselves and waited. I had no idea what for and was still met with the "later" response.
Various Family members
Eventually the cafe owner came up the steps, lugging what turned out to be a gas burner with hot pot, bowls, chopsticks and a bowl of what I took to be a Thai green curry. Suddenly activity took place, beers which had previously been in the ice were distributed, the stove was set up, the curry heated and we all gathered around to eat. This was communcal eating, although as the foreigner family members kept putting choice delicacies into my bowl. It turned out to be chicken and vegetable hot pot, i.e in a thin soup. The soup was thickened by adding 2 minute noodles. The beer was flowing and suddenly everyone was in party mode.
Chicken Hot Pot
Every so often someone called out "yoy" and we all had to take a swig of beer. Even mother joined in and I could see her getting flushed and garrolous. At one stage she told a story and kept taking furtive looks at me, it was obviously about me, but I did not understand a word. She finished with a flourish, blushed a little bit, and everyone had a good laugh. I would like to know what the story was that could make her blush.
The delicacies that I had been given included parts of the chicken that I would not ordinarly eat, but I kept as straight a face as I could and developed a new respect for Bear Grills from Man vs Wild. I was being squeamish over chicken bits he eats all sorts of crap. I baulked at one bit that I suspect was offal. I passed it to Phuc and she devoured it with gusto. Mother watched this interchange and I could see her mind working but what she thought I never knew.
After lunch the rubbish was scattered around the countryside, so I picked it up and placed it into a bin. There were some comments about this, but while in Vietnam I have been careful not to contribute to pollution and show the locals that there is a better way.
We made our way back to the motorbikes and mounted up. I assumed that the day was over but I was wrong.
The Bludgers bad mood had almost been erased by a lovely picnic and some beer.

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