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