For some reason we thought it was a good idea to stay a few days in the port town of Ha Tien. Bad call. Suspicious, unfriendly faces looked us up and down, weird leather-faced reprobates followed us down the street AND we got the obligatory “white skin” hiked up prices. After paying 5 dollars for some floury, fake macaroons we decided to make haste to the island retreat of Phu Quoc.
Paradise. Now it may seem to the reader of this that we have already been in paradise for the past few months but for some indiscernible reason we felt that we deserved the white sands and clear waters of a tropical island. We both felt emphatically that we needed to “relax” – it’s quite terrifying how lazy one becomes after only escaping the rat race for a measure of weeks. So we threw ourselves into doing absolutely nothing. Nada. Niente. Mornings were spent sipping coffee and munching our way through freshly baked French baguettes followed by lying prostate on the sun loungers for hours reading books and maybe stretching ourselves to discuss the weirdly horizontal growing palm trees on the shore. Was it a labour saving coconut collection technique? Was it supposed to be a novelty sun-bed? Were these evolved palm trees “well clever” and wanting to bend to the sea for a drink? Outcome – Inconclusive we couldn’t even be bothered taxing our sun frazzled brains to finish those conversations.
When I went to check out I had to double check the bill, we had been there 10 days! I thought we were still on day 5. Both of us horrified by our 10 days of sloth we agreed a city needed to be the next port of call. Heeeeello Ho Chi Minh City!
With my toes still wriggling in the sand in my shoes, I gazed out of the cab window we were sharing with some other travellers we met at the airport. Their not so positive review of Ho Chi Minh City was a low muffled drone that I hardly noticed as I looked open-mouthed at the thousands of moped drivers packed together like a tin of unruly sardines. Pink, blue and yellow neon lights promised; Best Karaoke! Super Nightclub, Pho Soup and a questionable sign advertising ‘Fanny’. Thankfully it was a clothes shop. I cannot describe the feeling of entering a metropolis after a few months of rural areas and islands, both of us were struck with an immediate sense of adventure, Ho Chi Min was undisputedly the pep-pill we needed.
The first challenge we faced was crossing the road. Now in the UK we have the handy Green Cross Code for navigating from one side of the street to the other, here that would result in an untimely multi-moped death wish. Nobody thinks to stop to let a pedestrian cross. Why do that when you can swerve? A certain mad Vietnamese logic that in theory appeals to me, in practise however I can only liken it to extreme sports, every street crossing offers an adrenalin rush usually reserved for sky diving and naked bungee jumps. On two occasions in rush hour kindly locals have grabbed our hands and led us through hundreds of mopeds whizzing past our noses as we sheepishly offer thanks and kick ourselves for not manning up.
P.S. Rick got another tattoo and bit his hand so much it almost bled.