Saturday, January 19, 2008

It was OK because I had grown tired of living.

Life is a bit boring traveling around to all these different countries. I mean the bus ride to Qui Nhon was kinda exhilerating, but let's face it, when you are on the road everyday meeting new people, seeing new things, and eating new foods you really just lose your zest for life. Figuring I was SOOOO bored with life I might as well just finish myself off I rented a motorbike and took to the crowded highways of Vietnam for a death defying 150 km ride through Danang to My Son.

My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Sight, is a set of ruins from the late Champa kingdom that are about 35 km from Hoi An. The problem with getting there was that there were no road signs and I didn't have a map. Luckily, I was armed with a small 150 cc motorbike and just started cruising the roads stopping to ask directions along the way. This method seems to have been quite flawed because at some point I ended up in Danang 35 km north of Hoi An, while My Son is 35 km southeast of Hoi An. When I arrived in Danang and realized the error it was too late. I had already been directed onto Highway 1A, the major north to south highway in Vietnam, and was now navigating a motorbike through the same tangled web of traffic that four days earlier had scared the living shit out of me. And that was when I was in a bus!!

I quickly learned that the best defense was a good offense, and that if I wanted to live I couldn't just cruise down the side of the road because then all sorts of buses, trucks, and other large vehicles try to pass you, and when they do they certainly are not concerned about giving you a wide birth. Realizing this I quickly shifted into fourth and opened up the throttle as far as it would go. The small bike responded with amazing speed and within a matter of seconds I found my self whipping past everyone on the road at 100 km per hour! It was quite a rush, though not one I necessarily enjoyed. When I reached the turn off for the road I originally needed to be on I slowed to a much more reasonable 60 km and enjoyed the slow meandering cruise through the beautiful bright green rice paddies.

After viewing the ruins, which were nice (though thanks to American bombs no where near their original glory) it was time to head back to Hoi An. Somehow I missed the turn and ended up back on 1A speeding through the frantic traffic and praying to the gods to get me off the road in one piece. After another long exhausting ride, which was more than twice the distance I actually needed to go, I arrived back in Hoi An. For a town that I really have disliked (mainly due to the overwhelming number of obese western tourists being shuttled around in rickshaws) I sure was happy to be back!

Better to die on your feet (or in this case sitting on your ass) than live on your knees.

Quick thoughts on Vietnam.

The people here are pretty great. I do get a bit tired of having to haggle for absolutely everything (including bottled drinking water), but nonetheless the people here are interesting, and quite friendly.

Vietnam is beautiful! Look out Guatemala and Nepal, Vietnam could easily unseat both of you as the most beautiful country I have ever been to. The colors of green that you see at any given time are absolutely breath taking. There must be like 20 shades of green alone in this country!

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