In the afternoon, we headed back to our resective homes (Thao her place, myself to the hotel) to get changed into something more comfortable. Well, for me that was just another shirt as I was all out of trousers havign ripped the crotch of one pair wide open getting onto her bike the night before.
As such, our first stop of the afternoon was a supermarket where I picked up two pairs of rather decent shorts (XL size, naturally) for a little over Â£3 each. Bargain.
Now I wrote in an earlier blog post that crossing the road in Vietnam is like dropping a pebble into a bowl full of fish. The fish simply part and swim round you as you continue on your way. Today I was one of the fish.
We drove north east out of the city centre towards the Binh Quoi Tourist Village. This is mainly for “local” tourists rather than foreigners but it’s a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon. The most common usage locally is for wedding photographs and we saw many couples being dragged around by teams of people and bent into shape as they had their pictures taken.
The whole place is pretty artificial, with “old” walls in the middle of fields, bridges, waterwheels, unused fishing nets and the like. It’s still tranquil and beautiful and is a great place to go for dinner. There’s a 100,000d eat-all-you-can buffet from around 5pm with a huge variety of dishes from all over Vietnam available to try. Be aware, though, that very little English is spoken and you’ll be taking pot luck with a lot of the food!
Thao realised that she had a class that evening which she’s forgotten about, so we bolted the food and hopped back on the bike. Somehow I managed to get her to college just on time without killing us both despite the amazingly busy traffic in the city centre. She told me to go out and see the area while she was in class. Using her bike. On my own.
I wussed and sat and read a book for a bit until she came out during a break and chastised me. I mounted up and wobbled into the traffic.
Obviously things went OK or I’d not be typing this up now. In fairness, the locals treated me like some kind of backwards cousin who didn’t know what the hell he ws doing and I’m sure they gave me more leeway as a result. For this I am grateful as it allowed me to ease into the whole experience of being on my lonesome in a very confusing city.
I managed to find a garage and filled up, and a corner store round near the backpacker area to grab some munchies. Then I returned to the college where Thao was later coming out – but I sat at a cafe opposite and watched the footie with the staff instead. As ever, being sat in a generally non-touristy area, I had someone approach me and chat about the football for a while.
Eventually Thao appeared and I drove us to the hotel where she regained control of her motorbike and headed home. The fast, free wi-fi in my room meant I got to watch us crush Reading 3-0 on a dodgy streaming site. A good end to a good day.