Two Idiots Abroad (Pt. 2): And We’re Off To A Great Start
Alrighty – we left off last week (Part 1 here) as Klaus and I were preparing to begin our motorcycle journey to Hanoi.
We were all set and ready to go…
We had our bikes (…two wheels loosely held together by rusty metal and sheer luck). We had our bungee cables (… I was never completely certain that my bags wouldn’t fall off the back). We had our rain gear (…the country experiences different micro-climates and it’s not unusual to get stuck in a downpour). We had, most importantly, our helmets and protective riding apparel (…I wore kevlar-lined jeans and a jacket with built-in body armor; Klaus had a windbreaker). And we were all set with our GPS (…a phone duct taped to Klaus’ handlebars).
Yes, that’s right – with eight years of college, a Master’s degree, and five years on Wall Street between us, our solution to navigating a foreign communist country was with a phone duct-taped to the front of a motorcycle. Wrapped in plastic so it wouldn’t get wet. Idiots.
But we were excited to get started! Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and all that fun stuff.
Little did we know the next 3 days would be complete, utter hell.
Looking back, the best thing that happened to us in those first few days was the $1 Pho we ate at a random little place on the side of the road. Best I’ve EVER had! I guess it makes sense that things could only get worse from there.
Our first stop was Ho Tram, a tiny little town about two hours southeast of Saigon. It’s a local vacation spot known for its pristine, undeveloped beaches, and large, very developed resorts. To give you a better sense – Wikipedia tells me that development plans in this area parallel the early growth of Phuket, Vegas, and Macau. I remember reading that there were plans to build a big casino in the area.
On the way, my bike started acting up – barely one hour into the trip. The throttle felt loose and unresponsive as the bike kept revving unexpectedly, which made shifting a little tricky. This would soon become what we will refer to as bike problem #2 (bike problem #1 being Klaus’ issue discussed in Part 1). But it was a manageable problem so we continued on.
We got very lost (it would be the first of countless times… idiots). If we couldn’t even do it with our phones, imagine us two idiots 20 years ago trying to do this with a map. HA! We’d still be lost somewhere in Vietnam… probably stranded in a jungle trying to start a fire with some branches or something like that. Forced to eat each other. Yikes. Anyway.
So now we’re lost now and it starts raining… and when I say raining, I mean DOWNPOURING! We found shelter as quickly as possible – under the awning of a big resort where we hid until the rain lightened up. At that point, exhausted, a little discouraged, we called it a day and found the nearest affordable “hotel.”
My bike was really starting to piss me off so we dropped it off at a mechanic shop next door.
The hotel was nice enough – but a cold shower (common in SE Asian countries) after being caught in the rain isn’t very enjoyable. They did our laundry… but there was no drying machine. So we handed them dirty wet clothing and got back clean wet clothing, which we hung all around our room to dry overnight. Picture ALL of our clothing draped over anything we could find (TV, lamps, paintings… you name it). Yep, can’t make this shit up. I wish I had a picture. Idiots.
I want to take a quick break from the story and talk about the food here.
There are not many “restaurants” in these tiny coastal villages to choose from, and they (as you would expect) serve primarily fish. And I like fish as much as the next guy – but fish is all you can eat!… Think like for BREAKFAST!… which is where I draw the line. IDK how he did it, but Klaus was able to down full shrimp dishes (these are the big shrimps in their shells that you have to break and pick apart to get inside) for breakfast without thinking twice. Still not sure if I was more impressed or disgusted. Either way, his stomach deserves a medal.
Now, with our bellies full of fish, we went to sleep thinking, “maybe day 2 will better than day 1.” Idiots.
Maybe that’s what you’re thinking, too, and that’s very glass half full of you. But you’re wrong. So wrong.
I know there wasn’t much action in this installment, but let me tell you – shit gets real in Part 3.