The trip home from Da Lat

  • By Daniel
  • 2009-11-10 23:11:00-0800

Sunday morning was warm and glorious. Eating breakfast outside was a treat that morning. We hung around the hotel until a van came to pick us up at 12:30 and take us off to our bus. We had expected the van to arrive sooner and give us time to eat while waiting for the bus, but there wasn't enough time so we boarded and headed out with the expectation that we'd stop in an hour or so where we could find some food. This was not the case.

The first place we stopped was a tea and fruit juice place that had pretty much no food. There were a few things like cakes that you would eat with your tea, so Tien and I got some cakes and ate them on the bus as we headed up a mountain pass that was in the middle of being reconstructed.

The bus had a DVD player and a TV at the front so people could be entertained along the way. This was a home entertainment style DVD player, which means it wasn't really built to handle being moved along a bumpy dirt road winding through jungly mountains. Needless to say it skipped a lot and they eventually turned it off. I wondered why in a country like this with so many dirt roads a company like Mailinh who had buses that went everywhere didn't just rip their DVDs into something that could be played from a cheap solid state media player. I wondered about the technological and business aspects of such a proposition, along with my idea to put wifi at popular bus stops, since there never is any and I'm sure people on their netbooks would use it. Perhaps the country just isn't quite ready for that step...

Tien and I didn't get a chance to eat until 4:30pm. Hu tieu never tasted so good.

Back on the road, I saw a motorbike with logs about 6 feet long stacked sideways on the back seat so that it took up the full lane of the road. The sunset was beautifully colored, like tropical fruits. There were beautiful green rice paddies illuminated by that gorgeous dusk light, but I had a hard time photographing it and I realized it wasn't just because we were in a moving vehicle. Vietnam is so flat that you don't get to see much of the beauty. Trees and lines of buildings block off so much of the natural beauty of the rice paddies and fields, and there are so few mountains that you rarely rise above it so you can look down on it. It's a shame, really.

Well into the darkness of light we passed over a bridge where there were house boats floating on still water, reflecting their lights all around them. It was magical.

As we were coming into Saigon I saw an airplane on its descent. It was the first airplane I had seen since we left the airport several weeks ago.

I saw a huge billboard at the side of the highway advertising HHH Zippers.

Back in Saigon, we caught a taxi to the Bui Phan but it was full except the most expensive room, so we headed to the Ruby Star and got a cheap, awesome room. WiFi on this floor was a problem, I was unable to get out to the internet. Upon further investigation I discovered multiple cascaded DD-WRT routers all using on both their LAN and WAN, and this was keeping me from getting out to the internet. After a few guesses I was into the admin panel and was able to reconfigure them each with their own LAN subnet so that there was no overlapping IP space and I was soon able to actually get out onto the internet. I considered different approaches but settled on this since I was doing all configuration over the air. It was good enough for one day.

Monday morning I woke up and when I signed on I had some more problems with the internet. My computer had switched to a different AP with the same SSID and a different LAN subnet. This was no good. I decided to go ahead and fix this problem once and for all by adding the WAN ports of each router to the switch, disabling DHCP, giving all the APs the same SSID and assigning them static addresses in the DSL modem. This allowed roaming access throughout the hotel, the way it should be. It worked like a charm and I felt pleased with having done something productive. I rather missed the IT world and the puzzle of finding elegant answers to technological problems.

Tien and I grabbed breakfast and decided that rather than stay in Saigon and rent a motorbike, we would return to Binh Hoa. There was potential fun in Saigon but returning home for a few days rest was appealing, and we'd definitely be coming through Saigon again numerous times anyway.

The standard procedure for hotel checkout is playing on computers until it is time to catch a taxi to a bus, then check out of the hotel and head out. This is what we did.

I saw a girl on the back of a motorbike reading a book and my NV240HD failed when I tried to take a photo of her.

I saw a girl with a shirt that said "I swoop want water."

That evening we were back with the family in Binh Hoa, sharing the details of our trip to Da Lat. The bus trip from Saigon always wears me out because it's not comfortable and I can't relax without my body moving into a painful position, Scootretteso after dinner and a little bit of teaching Ngoc english from a book she had we fell fast asleep.

Tuesday was pretty much a rest day. We did the routine shower and get breakfast at the market. This morning though Thu brought over some mangos and peeled them. They were delicious. I don't think I had ever eaten mango before, except the dried kind. While we sat there eating mango we planned to go hiking on Mt. Cam and to the floating market in Can Tho. That evening we took a little ride around at sunset and took some photos. That evening Mai made us sweet soup, which is a desert style dish with sweet peas, coconut and some squiggly things made from flour that have the consistency of those tapioca drinks.