Yesterday, Bill andI journeyed out into the unknown to discover what kind of adventure we would have as a couple of foreigners thrown into small town Vietnam. Our chosen destination? Doc Let. A small port town about 40-50 km north of Nhatrang. The plan… turn down any small road, or enter small towns at random to see how the people will react to us, and to test if I will have the freedom to move freely throughout the countryside..
We started the day by finding a motorcycle for Bill to rent. We negotiated a price of 5 dollars for the day, and at 9:00 am we were off. Leaving Nhatrang was a bit bumpy on heavily potholed road, but smoothed out as we arrived at hwy1. Hwy 1 is the only highway in Vietnam that transverses the entire Country and is is not the former Ho Chi Minh trail. The maximum speed a person can move with some comfort is 60km per hour. The maximum speed for any vehicle is 80kmph Motorcycles will generally travel on the shoulder of the road, as vehicles will be passing each other from the opposite direction, and one must move right to avoid head on collisions. ( will write about traffic anddrivinganother time) If a person can see beyond the mess made by local life andsee beyond, Vietnam is c country of extreme beauty. It is a pleasure driving in the countryside.
Before long, we spotted a small town off the main highway. A little cobblestone road wound its way down a steep slope and ended in narroe red clay streets. As we moved through town, we were bombarded by hello’s and “whats your name” by the children who automaticly accept us. The men looked at us a little puzzled why we were there, but were not hostile. And the women would look surprised, smile or laugh, and then start excitedly talking amongst themselves . The town ended on the oceanfront where there were fishing and other sea related objects.
Before I continue, let me say that my understanding and speaking of Vietnamese has improved, and I can interact with most people on a simple basis. A woman from the end of the village looked me directly in the eyes and told me she loved me. I replied in Vietnamese that I do not think so. She was amazed and proceeded to try very hard to become my wife. I expressed to her that I already was married and had no wish for a 2nd wife. She pushed a little more about the benefits of having a 2nd, then gave up and joked with me a bit about me speaking Vietnamese and how handsom I was :”> This was the first marrigeproposal of many to come……. Anyway….. We continued north through a countryside with more shades of green than you can imagine, cruising through small towns until we founda resort area with deserted white sandbeaches. We found a restaurant to eat lunch. As is so typical here, they brought out a menu with inflated prices for the westerners. They seemed a bit worried when I spoke in Vietnamese, but I was too hungry to argue with them about overcharging, so we ate anyway. After a cold beer we continued to the small port town that was our destination. There, I purchased some dragon fruit from a local woman, then borrowed a machette to cut andeaton the spot.. Very refreshing. A little looking around and we were on the way home.
We decided to check out a Yamaha dealer on the way back and price out motorcycles. It turn out that the top of the line Yamaha sells for 1200.00 US. I have not checked out other brands yet. on the final leg home, we were getting sunburned and thirsty, so we stopped at a roadside coconut shop for a drink. Amazingly she had a couple of cold beers. We drank them down and when asked to pay, we were told 12000 dong!! .65 cents. Normally the price should be 9 or 10,000 but again this was a person trying to get the most out of a westerner. I did not care about the price but I wanted to let her know that it is not good to treat westerners that way, so, I asked in a slightly outraged manner…. What???? why so expensive in Viet. She was surprised, but said because they were cold. I told her not right, and that I was Vietnamese, not western. We had a bit of arguing, she knew playfully, and I let her keep the 12000. We left quickly before I got another marrage proposal.
So, that was my day. It ended by me going to have a good chili cheese burger, and attending the grand opening of a new bar with 50 cent drinks. ( regular price ).