Tuesday morning at breakfast Tien's mom brought over a young boy who was big for his age. His older sister showed up soon afterwards and we all ate some snacks. They were Tiens cousins and I recognized their father from our engagement party when he came to pick them up on his scooter.
We returned home, packed for our trip to Nha Trang, had lunch and caught the bus right outside Tien's house at 2pm.
The bus was not the usual bus service we take, Mai Linh. It took a different route through narrow back country roads that were more jungly than the main roads. I recognized the route from the trip we took where the man was joking about fighting with me. The bus seemed to be going pretty fast but that may just be because the road was so narrow. After a while we got to an area with muddy dirt roads with huge puddles and many bumps.
The driver turned on some pop Vietnamese music and I wondered what a Vietnamese reggae fusion would sound like.
I got out a book, Iron Orchard, and read. Brianna had found the book on the street and gave it to me. It was entertaining light reading that was good for a trip. After we stopped for a break I continued reading until it was too dark, then I just enjoyed music and watched the lights pass in the darkness.
We came upon an accident, the first serious one I've seen in Vietnam so far. The diver of a large truck was standing by the back where a bloody man was wallowing in pain on the ground. His motorbike was stuck between the front and rear axels and there was an anonymous pool of liquid coming from the darkness under the truck. I wasn't sure if he was the only passenger.
Tien looked at the scene then looked away with a shriek. She looked at me with worried eyes and said "He died." I thought this was an odd way to say it. Later I came to the conclusion that her phrase told a story from a scene that she hadn't experienced which was why it sounded weirder than saying "he is dead." I told her that he hadn't died. The bus drove on and I never heard a siren or saw an ambulance.
As we came into Saigon it was clear that it had been raining hard. Pools of water were standing near intersections and the sidewalk by the river was reflecting the tail lights of motorbikes that rode down it.
The ride seemed endless and my ass hurt from having my buttock muscle stretched in the same position in that tiny seat for so long. We rode through some interesting neighborhoods in Saigon including going over a bridge that we'd seen near the new roads on our way out of town last time. Eventually we arrived at the bus station where we caught a taxi to a hotel I'd stayed at once before, the Bui Phan. The issue with the bed bugs at the ruby star made us not want to go back there, plus I wanted a bath tub.
The hotel was conveniently right next door to Viva Coffee, so we ate there for dinner. In Vietnam, most cafes are also restaurants. Tien's mom called up worried and told us that the weather was bad in Nha Trang. Her mom worries about everything, but this time she was right. The latest AP headline read something about 32 people being dead from flooding up towards Hanoi. There was a photo o a man motorbiking in Nha Trang in over a foot of water that covered a whole street, and it was still raining.
Wednesday morning I got out of bed, picked up my laptop and found tiny bugs crawling on it. The Bui Phan had them as well... On top of that there was heavy construction going on outside our hotel.
Tien and I had a late breakfast and talked about cultural differences like how multicultural different cultures are and how conservative they are. Afterwards we went online and looked up new destinations. Traveling as a pair was expensive and airfare was also looking more expensive because it was nearing time for peoples fall and winter getaways. We thought about going to Thailand and I even got in touch with a friend of a Sara's whose family owns a resort north of Phuket. We didn't decide on anything then.
Instead we went out for a walk to look for an external hard disk that I'd meant to install in my laptop before leaving America. As we left the hotel I saw a Yamaha R6 parked at the motorbike shop next door. It was remarkable because nobody rides anything over about 110cc in Vietnam and this was at least 600. Also, almost nobody rides real motorcycles, just scooters which are more practical.
We walked a long way stopping at computer shops and explaining to them what exactly I was looking for, a FireWire 2.5" SATA external hard drive case. Amazingly this was t all that hard. For one, I had one with me so I could just show them and then point out that I just needed the case, a d two, there were plenty of computer part shops with drive cases. To my dismay, none had FireWire ones so I had to settle for USB. the sad life of a technology enthusiast.
On the way home I saw a shirt that said "Hollister California" and hated fashion. What on earth is so great about Hollister? I'd never liked that brand and I liked it even less knowing that it could be found in Vietnam, knock-off or not.
Back at the hotel a confusing technological coincidence happened where my old 500gb drive had mysteriously quit working while we were out looking for a new case, which meant I didn't even need a new case. It also meant I had lost all of my photos and music. On top of that, I broke my only screwdriver while I was right in the middle of investigating the problem so I had a pile of computer parts on a hotel bed and no way to assemble them.
I woke up to an oncoming silence created by the absence of electrical power on Tuesday morning. This was a good way to get an early start because I couldn't sleep without the fan protecting me from the mosquitoes and cooling my body. I took a shower and headed ...Continue reading …