Gorgeousness accompanied by misfortune
Trip Start Nov 23, 2007
35Trip End Dec 11, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We took a bus -the drivers here in VN drive like I do, btw. And this guy was even better than most. He weaved through narrow mountain passages amidst traffic and people and pets without batting an eyelash or slowing down. It really frightened the other passengers, but I loved every second of it.
We got to our starting point of our 2 1/2-hour hike over several mountains and back to the ocean. Earlier in the morning, I thought to myself that my ankle was feeling pretty good for being sprained only 2 days earlier (I know I know, you're thinking, Geez, Augie, why do you always sprain your ankle? Well, it wasn't my fault. I will update you about that story later). So of course, 10-15 minutes into the trail, I misplaced my footing a bit and rolled my ankle a bit again, camera in hand. I managed to save the camera from being hit too hard, but took a pretty rough blow to my knee. My knee hurt the most at first, but moments later, my ankle was screaming. It took me a few minutes to even sit up. Once my ankle calmed down about 5 minutes later, I got up and told the group I would be ok, so we pressed on. I didn't notice until later that I had bled all over my pants from an open wound to my knee because all I had felt was the ankle pain. But we pressed on--and it was the hardest hike in terms of difficulty I've ever done. I've done a LOT of hikes over the years, but nothing like this one. We climbed over sharp rocks, squeezed through narrow crevices and climbed up and down extremely steep grades. However, we got to see a lot of neat foliage and scenery. Banana trees in various phases of outputting the banana flower, then the mini-flowers that would become the bananas, the banana shoots, and even ripe bananas (we had our own so decided not to pick them). We discovered a root that can be soaked in rice wine for 2-3months and then used as an herbal remedy for back pain, so we took a bunch to use for grandfather (he apparently stopped into the hospital in HCMC yesterday and had some tests done....sigh). We saw evergreens with drains carved into them for catching its sap, which is used here for lighting fires, for a breath freshener, and for adhesive. We saw mountain goats and this interesting plant that basically had 20-foot long STRAIGHT vines that hung downward in the air. Not a great variety of flowers though. The end of the hike provided a view of the bay and surrounding town that literally took my breath away.
We made the hike in about 2hr30min and rested at the trail end. There was a poinsettia tree, about 10-12 feet tall! Reminded me of home--I'm sure they're ubiquitous at home right now. I had this tea made from winter melon that was really delicious and totally hit the spot before boarding the bus to go check-in to our hotel.
We had a giant lunch there of fried rice with grilled pork and cabbage salad. Delish! Oh, and I discovered that the internet cafe has happy hour tonight from 6pm-10pm: Buy 3 get 1 free. Sweet. Haha, if only I can find ppl to drink with. Maybe some young people from the other tours. We'll see.
After lunch, we took a short taxi ride to a dock to pick up our ferry shuttle. Shortly after we set out, our ferry shuttle lost an engine. So it was sloooooooow go the rest of the way. We went out into the bay to a floating shack to pick up kayaks and we set off for an hour. I was paired with our tour guide. He and I found this hole in one of the islands that we rowed into. On the other side was a peaceful grove completely enclosed on all sides by tall mountain islands. I just sat there and stared for a long time. We left and raced one of the other kayaks around some islands and finally back to our boat. We went a crazy long way for an hour, paddling at full speed for long stretches of time. Then it was off to Monkey Island (Dao Khi). The waves were high, so I moved to the front of the boat and stood on the front beam so I could get the maximum amplitude of the waves pushing the boat up and down. FUN!
Monkey Island was pretty cool. It was getting late and there was even a crack of thunder in the distance--and when we landed there was no monkey to be seen. But I gave a couple calls and they came out! 7-8 little monkeys that came right up to us. Amazing! However, we were warned to be very careful, b/c they have bitten tourists recently. One of the other tour members had a bag full of bananas and fruits and two monkeys started tugging at the bag and trying to take it from him -He intended to distribute the contents of thebag evenly, but he was warned by the tour guide to let the monkeys have it, because they will bite if they think he's teasing them with the bag. Along the beachfront, we found some really really neat little shells that I've never seen before. Mom collected them and we xclimbed back on our boat. To get on/off the boat, we literally walked a plank, one end ofwhich they pushed over the edge of the boat and into the sand below. Mom continues her forgetfulness. She nearly forgot my bag on the floating kayak house (I gave it to her for safekeeping when I set off on the water), forgot the bag of shells in the taxi bus, and forgets whether she has the cell phone or not. Thing is, it upsets me, because she is constantly nagging me about stupid things, but she's the one who has forgotten things every step of the way.
It's dinner time (it gets dark early here this time of year). I've had stomachaches off and on the last few days ever since I arrived in N. Vietnam--there must be something in the food, as S. Vietnamese ppl claim there is. But it just causes general discomfort and affects me only periodically every day. We are free to explore town tonight and then head back to the boat early tomorrow to head back to the mainland.