Ho Chi Nam

It has been at least a month. Sorry, though it’s been a little hectic. We’re in the back of a van on our way to the Mekong Delta. Exciting stuff. In the last few weeks we have crammed a lot in. Needless to say we’re loving it. Vietnam has a killer energy about it. It’s clean which is surprising. It’s even more developed than Bali, though with c90 million bodies you’d hope it would be. We managed to dodge the super typhoon Haiyan which was due to make landfall in Hanoi about the sometime we were. Thankfully it dissipated and headed north to China. Thanks for the kind thoughts Si and to Lou and Scotty for looking after us in Singapore. We arrived to a perfect sunset and the luck with the weather has fortunately, stayed with us.

Vietnamese is our favourite food. Luckily each hotel we stay in comes with a pair of scales so tracking my downward spiral to a heavyweight contender has been fairly easy. I blame the set menus on tour. Lou blames the beer, it’s a close run thing. Hanoi had a great vibe, everything I’d hope for in a big city. Hanging out in the old quarter is a treat, a street maze, dodging traffic, salted fish, water puppets and street vendors. We saw a serene Ho Chi Minh in his giant Mausoleum flanked by white guards. Lou wants her own. We drove up to Halong Bay which was dreamy spectacular though pretty over run. Great to stay on a Junk for a few nights. Ninh Binh is its quieter neighbour in the north with kilometer long tunnels you row through, to lakes, temples and lots of pink lotus flowers. We flew to Hue, which embraces rainy season. Our first real bit of rain in about 6-7 months. Eye popping temples and citadels with a second city tour in a Cyclo.

We’ve just finished 4 days in Hoi An, again narrowly missing the town being flooded about 3-4 days before we arrived. A shipment of goods is on the water enroute to NZ from Bali and another box, this time with tailored clothes and shoes from Hoi Ans’ Old Quarter is in the air. A source tells me they’ll fall apart before they get home. Turns out I’m not that smart on fabric. Who would have thought? Ho Chi Minh City is behind us, though we’ll be returning for the best part of a week. Plenty to see, the caravan continues. The girls are great, we have a stroller in tow now so all a bit easier (I lie). Can’t say the books progressing as fast as I’d like it too, though stay tuned. Overnight on the Delta, Phu Quoc in the south for some beach action and then we’ll be squeezing in Cambodia. Looking like Bali for Christmas if any one is thinking about it, could be a cheap room in a villa going in Canggu. More to come.

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Light & Dark

Hello again. Tonight I’m writing to you from the North East corners of Bali. Pandangbai no less. You know it? Hopefully not, you might in due course. Initial thoughts, best seen from a distance. The good news, I’m lounging comfortably in a night bed (it is around 10pm) staring at the far off lights of what I’m fairly confident is Lombok and the Gili’s and the port side town itself a couple of hundred meters below me. There are lightening flashes every thirty seconds, though no rain, it’s at least 25 degs. The call to prayer sounds about every hour over speakers I think were brought in directly from my high school ball. There’s no chorus, so I find myself unable to join in. That’s ok. I can also hear Johnny Be Good which I do know.

For all the lightness that I may or may not have conveyed to date there’s a few dark patches. The dogs over here a forlorn. It’s a problem, as I understand it. They’re pretty much at the bottom tier of the social hierarchy which means there’s little love for them. They wander, scavenge and dare I say it rip one another apart. Ugly. Couple that with a cock fight I managed to sneak into the other night. Locals c200, Palangi’s: 1. They keep their best cocks in baskets on the side of the road. They attach blades to their strongest foot, goad one another and scream for money before they’re released into the pit. One of them dies, they’ll be cheered and cash collected, all in about 2 mins. It’s part of life, pre ceremony so a given.

Anybody had a colonic? The ladies will know what I’m talking about. A friend of a friend mentioned he was a regular. Not one to shy away from a new experience I tried it out. Can’t say I’ll rush back. Though for 45 minutes I did my best as always to talk myself through it as all my dietary mistakes floated idly by in front of me. At least until I was sent to the toilet for something that just wouldn’t quite get through. Did I feel lighter? Yes. Darker? Possibly.

We made it to the North east coast of Amed. Had some killer dives, turtles, sharks, and fire coral. The last of which while a gentle touch is now flying it’s own flag as a 100 blisters spread across what use to look like my left leg. Still loving it. Singapore in 2 days, Vietnam in 8.

Pictures as previously promised, still yet to come courtesy of software I still need to download. Till then.

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