First stop: Marble Mountains. Highlights include pagodas, temples in caves and for 3 Vietnamese tourists: us!
The visit confirms to us that people in Vietnam have more money than in Laos and Cambodia. Here and in Phu Quoc, we have seen many Vietnamese tourists whereas we saw no local tourists in the other two countries.
The roads in Vietnam are very good so the ride is smooth...once we are out of the city, that is. It is easier if you just close your eyes whenever you enter a roundabout and let the driver manoeuvre his way through the madness. Once in the countryside, we are on our own. We don't see any roadkill, but there are plenty of piles of cow dung to try and avoid. Kids smile and wave at us like in Laos and Cambodia. We just needed to get out of the city. The trip includes some botany/biology lessons. We stop to smell and taste cinnamon. We had no idea it came from the bark of a tree! We also learn how rice wine is made and that rice grown on the side of a hill (drier and harder) is better for making it. The wet stuff is better for eating.
The trip also includes history lessons. We stop at a minority village and meet a 30 year old man who walks with crutches because his mother drank water contaminated by Agent Orange. His sister is healthy, but his niece also suffers from the effects of the defoiliant used by the Americans during the war. We also stop by the side of the road and find leftover fragments of bombs.
The ride along Ho Chi Minh Highway was fantastic. Quiet, windy roads through lush primary jungle. The views were worth the numb bums we had after 2 days of riding. Prep for Japan...
|Thomas becoming enlightened|
|Learning how to play Vietnamese pool Bida with the locals|