The Extraordinary Camping Adventures

 of George and My

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20 June 2010 - Last winter was a camping bust. With a new grandson and me working for the Census Bureau for the last six months, we've had to stay home. But tomorrow is my last day as first a Recruiting Assistant, then a Field Operations Supervisor with the 2010 Census. Now we're getting ready for a trip to Vietnam in August. As soon as we get back though, we're going camping.

I'll be documenting the Vietnam trip here for anyone who's interested.

Wednesday, 25 August:

Life has been hectic the last week since we left home and arrived in Vung Tau. I really haven’t had a chance to add to this site, especially since I have to upload via another computer (instead of my laptop) which has DSL and is located in our room at my sister-in-law’s house. The internet access a gift (we have been spoiled rotten) from her.

The thirty hour trip was exhausting. Midway between Chicago and Hong Kong (about eight hours into the flight) I was afraid I was going to die. Later I was afraid I wasn’t. We arrived in Vung Tau at 3 am after the last leg of the journey, a three hour bus ride. My had some serious leg cramps the rest of the night but other than that no deleterious effects. This picture is from the terminal in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong

My’s sister suffers from advanced diabetes and is in the ICU of a hospital in Saigon. A phone call yesterday reported death was imminent so we decided we’d better visit her. We took a boat up the river, a one and a half hour trip. The boat, an old Russian-built hydrofoil, carried about one hundred passengers. It was hot and noisy though, and we couldn’t see anything out the windows.  We decided to take a bus (a large van actually) back to Vung Tau even though it took twice as long.


Once in Saigon we took a taxi to the hospital. Well, not directly to the hospital, a stop for Pho, the Vietnamese equivalent of a Big Mac was obligatory. Pho is soup made with noodles and meat and additional condiments of choice such as hot peppers, basil leaves, bean sprouts and/or other probably best left unidentified items. The restaurant was nice compared to most we eat at, having individually wrapped napkins like baby wipes. Usually napkins are a roll of toilet paper (think Dollar General brand, not Charmin) in a plastic dispenser with a hole in the top.
Below is a picture of My and her niece in the hospital waiting room. Yes it's outside.

My and niece

The best food I’ve had so far was at My’s brother’s wife’s roadside cafe. My brother-in-law, a jack-of-all-trades sort of guy, made a special pan for cooking these greasy little fat pills. The pan sits on a pot of charcoal. A pancake-like batter of rice flour and coconut milk is poured into the indentations in the pan where a crispy outside forms with a doughy center into which she puts a small whole shrimp, ground shrimp, chopped green onions and other secret ingredients. The ambiance was only heightened by the vendor next door who sold an iced coconut drink, prepared and served while a cigarette dangled from his lip.




The bus ride home was like a roller coaster ride and three hours of adrenalin depletion is exhausting. The driver, who seemed a little grumpy from the time we boarded in Saigon, was intent on passing everyone and arriving in Vung Tau before anyone else, even those who started yesterday. Brake pads and horns must be frequent replacement items on his bus. His hostile attitude toward mopeds (of which there are millions if not billions sharing the road) led me to believe perhaps his mother, while pregnant with him, was frightened very badly by one while trying to cross a street. He was really a nice fellow though. As we approached Vung Tau we were inundated by a rainstorm and he delivered us straight home instead of the bus station.

A balut is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. Here is a picture of five sisters and a neice enjoying a few. Note my absence.



Saturday, 16 October 2010 - Here are some additional pictures of Vietnam. I'll soon be adding this page to the Archives and starting a new page for Winter 2010-2011. Here's a couple of pictures of things hauled on mopeds:

Beer Truck

Vases on Moped

The Buddhist Temple that can only be reached at low tide:

High Tide

Low Tide

Hanging out at the coffee shop:

Coffee Shop

Hanging out with family in the evening:


The harbor from the cable car:


And the main reason we went; to visit My's mother. She's 92.


Sometimes when no hookups are available, you have to boondock.

To see where we're going in Vietnam you'll have to find my push pin and zoom in.
Or just click on Vietnam here or below, and then the push pin labeled Vung Tau.

View Vietnam in a larger map
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