Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The last of Vietnam - datbeit

Hue, Hoi An, Dalat - floods, elephants, tribal celebrations, rice wine... karaoke.

So, we suffered through two typhoons that pelted us and flooded the towns we were visiting. We kept moving south hoping to get to better weather. Hue was flooded so we left a few hours after we arrived, staying only long enough to slosh around a bit. Hoi An was flooded as well but we stayed a couple of nights anyway. It would be a charming and beautiful town if not flooded.

On another bus trip to yet another town we stopped in the middle of the night at a roadside bus stop/restaurant. We were traveling along the coast now and the place had a patio out back where the "bathrooms" (squat toilets) were. Stepping out on the patio I looked up and said "Tracy... look!... Stars!!!" That meant clear skies! We rejoiced.

We eventually did get to better weather and things got better as we moved south. Our last stop in Vietnam was a town called Dalat. By the time we got to Dalat we were feeling pretty comfortable, thinking "yeah, we got it now". We were crossing the streets like natives. We had gotten some of the language down well enough that we could be understood now, at least for things like "hello", "good bye", "please", "thank you" and Tracy's favorite "Excuse me, I'm sorry". I was feeling pretty ready to try out the new phrase I had been practicing on the bus. I found it was very important to be able to order coffee with fresh milk instead of the sweetened condensed version they usually drink. I practiced and practiced, repeating it over and over to myself. The next rest stop finally gave me my opportunity. I walked in first and in my best Vietnamese ordered coffee with fresh milk. Tracy walked in after me, ordered coffee and pointed to the fresh milk container in the see-through cooler. Our order came up... Tracy got coffee with milk... I got black coffee. Chit! Vietnamese is hard.

In Dalat we took an elephant ride. I was terrified. It had been raining (duh) and so there was a great deal of mud. This kid (our elephant driver was an 8 year old) was taking our elephant down a path so muddy she (the elephant) was sinking up to her elephant knees. When we started going down a very muddy hill straight into a rushing river I knew we were going to topple head over trunk and be crushed. Of course we didn't but Tracy did say she was a little freaked as well. At one point on the way back she pointed at a path that went up this steep hill and said "someone takes these elephants up those hills!" Not more than a minute later our elephant turns and guess what, "WE'RE taking an elephant up those hills!" It turned out to be a good ride.

Dalat is in the mountains where there is the culture of the hill tribes. We visited one of these hill tribes but that is a story I need to let Tracy tell you.

After Dalat we were on our way to Cambodia to meet Susan.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful photography and video clips (love the music choices too!) Bravo!!! Enjoying it all!


...I'm gonna ask Santa for my own elephant...;);)

cindylist said...

Wow - great photos - thanks for posting them! Did I see coffee and water chestnuts? Beautiful! The elephant made me smile - looked kind of like a good-humored "youngster." Looking at the countryside sends my thoughts back to the war - I can just imagine how it felt to be there. I'm honored that you're sharing your journey in this way. How are you adjusting to life back home, Cindy? TB - I got your e-mail and will answer soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

bonycrow said...

thanks you guys. glad you're enjoying all of the media. cindylist: you did see coffee. vietnam has fantastic coffee, most of which, if not all, comes from the dalat area. the coffee plantations in that area where huge. but the other was not a water chestnut. it was this odd but wonderful fruit. it was like a big sweet grape inside. i forget what it was called. there were a lot of new and wonderful fruits that we tried (all ones that you peel though : ) )

bonycrow said...

p.s. adjusting to life back at home has taken me some time. i didn't want to leave but wished i could continue on with trace. i am grateful though that i didn't get the "quick step" until after i got home. : )