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Trip Start Jan 01, 2007
45Trip End Apr 27, 2007
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We opted for the second unwittingly. It started out as a nice air conditioned taxi ride (with the drivers Mum along for the ride). Unexpectedly we changed taxis half way to the border - the new taxi driver had a cracked windscreen, a family of four along for the ride (all in the front passenger seat) and decided that we would like to visit his family in the middle of nowhere. Two hours into a dirt track rally we stopped to visit his family, neighbours, friends, relatives and onlookers in a remote part of god knows where.
After dishing out biscuits as a form of peace offering (our piece of mind that is) we re-embarked on the rally with his wife and son and her friend, all crammed in the front passenger seat again while Debs and I lounged in the relative comfort of a whole back seat. We walked across the border point and were asked to fill in a form confirming we had not been near any poultry recently while motorbikes precariously loaded with more chickens than you can eat in a year flying past without a glance by the the border officials.
And so into Vietnam where the journey started to get more interesting (read: terrifying). Stalked by a morbike driver, who really wanted our business, we walked to the bus station and asked if we could get a bus to Chau Doc (a small town where we needed to get on a coach to Saigon). The bus, which had a destinantion named as Chau Doc, said no we couldn't get on his bus. A walk around town lead to the realisation that our stalker was telling everyone not to pick us up. We had no choice, so us and our backpacks arrived at Chau Doc after 45 minutes on the back of a couple of motorbikes - i'm sure they were licensed and obeyed all laws of the road (it's just unfortunate there are no laws of the road here).
And so from Chau Doc we boarded our minibus (not a coach at all) to Saigon with a Vietnamese family as company. Every time i tried to ask a question or make a comment a one-word comeback from the driver led to gales of laughter from all the passengers and left us wondering what the joke was (possibly we were the joke). And so the journey now got really interesting as our driver (the only minibus driver I've ever seen wearing a crash helmet) embarked on a 6 hour (felt like 10) race to beat everyone else on the road to Saigon. There is a vague concept that vehicles travelling in opposite directions use opposite sides of the road, this was a concept our driver had not yet grasped. Beeping and flashing warnings we endured 6 hours of NDE's (near death experiences) throughout which Debbie (normally an instant sleeper in the passenger seat) sat wide eyed and flinching the whole time. The driver had a noticeable tic, particularly when rounding bends and seemed oblivious to the thousands of other motorists and motorbikes in his way. I was nervous but then the unthinkable happened. The driver casually took a CD from the glove compartment and nonchalantly pushed it in the CD player, turned it up full volume and out came the terrifying vocals of Michael Bolton - it was too much, I started to scream.
So we arrived at Saigon checked into our very nice guesthouse and on the advice of a fellow traveller headed out for coffee and doughnuts (it was 10.55 at this time and we had been travelling since 7 that morning). Having ordered and paid for our drinks and doughnuts we were told that cafe was just about to shut and we should have our drinks to take out. This was not gonna happen so 6 minutes later having finished our scalding coffee we left and returned to our room. Then the unthinkable happened again. Finding we had a TV for the first time Debs casually switched it on, nonchalantly tuned in the movie channel and Debs proceeded to watch Thunderbirds the movie - it was all too much, I started to scream for the second time that day.
Paul i'm sure you can relate to this and Liz, don't worry this is only loosely based on fact (honest).
Readers - Please note that no travellers were hurt during this journey and did in fact arrive physically intact (if not pyschologically).