Sunday 15th November.
930 last night saw us booked into green suites hotel in Ho Chi Minh city quickly slapping soap and water on our faces before heading out into the lovely warm night for food and drink. Unlike a fellow traveller we had not booked ourselves on a pub crawl. The much needed, and highly appreciated, recovery g&ts and baileys on the plane had seen to our lack of enthusiasm at his idea…
Travelling is never smooth. Emirates refused to let us board unless we had a ticket out of Vietnam. Cycling out did not count. So as other passengers moved serenely through check in Lucy and I battled the Internet on smart phones to buy the last two cheap tickets with Air Asia. An hour later very frazzled having got Nathan, Lucys brother, on the phone to try with a laptop (he failed by the way) we had them and were through in no time. The bikes being underweight had been spirited off by a Gok Wan look alike as he assured us 70 quid for two tickets was “ah good, good not very expensive!” Although the main luggage was a kilo underweight I cannot claim the same for my hand luggage… 3 large bags and a very impressed Lucy – after thinking I woun’t be let on the plane! As all our stuff made it and we can’t be blamed for Gatwick shut Down!
Back to HCM.
We wandered out the hotel and down a street heaving with bars restaurants and pavement eateries. At one point the pavements on either side were so packed with chairs they had been arranged in rows facing the street. This gave a bizarre impression of each side watching the other side and the road as if it was a cinema. We found a less packed section and had a nice cold fruit smoothie and plate of fruit. One of which called supilla tasted like dark brown sugar.
We had been worried about jet lag but “luckily” having toasted Imperial College our heads hit the pillow and we were out like lights til 830 this morn. We had breakfast on the rooftop terrace then put the bikes together. Nothing bent or broken and even remembered how many spacers went where. Lucy discovered that cycling will always feel really heavy if tires are semi flat…
At 1200 Dave Holmes from Urumqi days came over and we had lunch, beer and coffee catching up on teaching job and trips and being given some great advice on good routes to take along the way, warnings about dangerous drivers and vietnamese word for hotel. Thanks for lunch Dave!
We are now sitting in a bubble tea cafe, I swear one of my bubbles had egg yolk in the middle, waiting for our first warm showers host to return from his weekend trip. Rikki it will be ok! We braved the city streets on our laden and very laden bikes learning pretty fast to never look round or signal intentions it is way too terrifying. To hesitate is to die and its best to just look steadily forward and cruise gaily across all junctions having commended your soul or life to a higher Being! Mums the last sentence was purely for dramatic effect one day you may even get to check it out on the Go Pro! Yes Elliot the Go Pro, christened Godfrey Patricia – Penny for short – is up and running and on the handle bar filming us getting lost down hundreds of side alleys.
Tomorrow we plan to speak to Mr Khoi from Wildlife at Risk who is linked with the wildlife rescue centre near Cu Chi also famed for it s viet cong tunnels. Depending how that goes we may head there for a day then go across to the Mekong and up towards the Tram Chi protected area where WWF run some projects. We are trying to decide whether to get to Cambodia by the 21st to see veterinarian checks on the captive bred siamese crocodiles or miss the checks and go later. Decisions.. North or south, 4 days through Vietnam or longer, vets or no vets … agh.