Trip Start Jan 16, 2008
117Trip End Jul 28, 2008
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Where I stayed
Phuong Hanh Hotel
We camped out for a bit in Peace Cafe to work at our 'options,' which, as with all the backpackers around us, meant debating our budget a little more.
Every table in the cafe seemed to consist of a few backpackers and at least one or two very casual looking, Saigon beer drinking Vietnamese men, clad in blue biker jackets with Easy Riders embossed on the back. Pretty soon we were joined by our own Easy Rider, Tom, a wise looking old man with wrinkles in his face that disappeared with his constant giggling.
It started as it always does "who do you support?", "ah yes.. very good, you win last week no? Yes 4-3", "Yes, I know, Peter Crouch, David Beckham, somone else boring." Honestly, its amazes me. Not once, in all my travels has anyone ever stopped me in the street and said, "I know, how amazing is it that Rachel decided not to go to Paris and stay with Ross instead?", "How much do you just wish Sandy Cohen was your dad?" or "I know, I couldn't be more excited about the Sex and the City movie either!"
Tom, our Easy Rider, didn't really stop talking from the moment he started. Everything he said was also followed by a fit of giggles, which would leave him leaning doubled over trying very hard to start breathing again. Nothing got him going more than finding out Rob was going to be a lawyer. We stared, flummoxed, as he collapsed just repeating "lawyer, phew!" and calling over his friends to join in the joke. Eventually, he regained composure. "Lawyer, no, lawyer very serious." He sat bolt upright and looked down and concerntrated very hard, then burst into fit of giggles, "No, you're no lawyer, you ride a motorbike in Vietnam, you're not a lawyer."
One by one each of the Easy Riders came to show us their comments books, something they treated as if it were a prized possesion, wrapped in plastic bags, and having pride of place at the front of each bike
The next morning we met Tom, Rob's motorised mate for the day, and later mine; Hiep rocked up, announcing "work now, jacket on, serious, like serious lawyer!" and the first of the days countless giggling fits ensued.
As we drove off into the countryside surrounding Dalat it became obvious Hiep and Tom were one of the same. I had to spend most of the trip with my face attached to the side of Hiep's helmet so I could hear his brilliant explanations and interesting anecdotes as well as keep up with his countless jokes over the din of the bike. This, I decided was preferable to him turning his entire body around while continuing to drive forwards, shouting "up early today Dutch girl, not too much Heineken last night?"
We visited a very, very garish temple, and contined onto some plantations
We drove through the beautiful countryside, jungles, forest and hill side settlements. We saw the results of the money coffee plantations have brought to the local area, and drove through fields harvesting a massive variety of fruit and vegtables. Hiep must have once taken a very learned Dutch agriculturalist on a trip, as he would point at any old field of what just looked like plants to me and say 'cabbage,' 'runner beans,' ' spinach in Dutch.' I was often quite lost though. My mother didn't teach me 'artichoke' or 'guava fruit' when I was two and I've got no idea what a dragon fruit or a kumquat is in either language.
We had a really amazing lunch; I'm not sure I've ever laughed that much in one meal time!
The rest of the day was simply stunning, and we returned very, very happy. For a good half hour we seriously entertained the idea of Easy Riding it all the way to Saigon - but time and money issues made us see sense.
We ended up in the cafe it had all started in, a few more drinks and a few more laughs. We got on the bus to Saigon with some of the best memories of the trip yet, two incredible personalities, and some amazing 'vistas'