I’m trying to beat the clock for when the modem goes out and I cannot get back on wifi.
Sophak, the country coordinator I depend on gave the tuk tuk driver, Keog, the modem for the wifi so I can continue with the blog. So here’s hoping.
Yesterday, we were taken to the Cambodian border by a bus full of people heading the same way. Once we got there, it was a long walk from Viet Nam border to the customs agents on the Cambodian side. A nice man from Australia carried my computer for me…thank goodness. I could have managed but when there is an offer, I take it. We all got through customs and I had to purchase another visa for the Cambodian country.
Back on the bus, it was a long drive to the city of Phnom Penh in sheets of rain. I tried to use the bus wifi and it was hit and miss as it is right now.
When we got to the bus station, my wonderful, (blessings to this man), Keog, my tuk tuk driver was waiting with his rain poncho and took my hand in one hand and my computer in the other, and I pulled my suitcase. We walked in puddles, and weaved in and out of other folks trying to find their drivers.
On the way to the Wat, circulating among thousands upon thousands of motorcycles, tuk tuk’s, buses, trucks hauling pigs, truck loads of folks going home from work, whole families on one motorcycle, and then there were the chickens.
I saw them on the side of the road, intelligent enough to know that crossing over the other side, wouldn’t be worth it. So that’s your answer about chickens crossing the road.
Keog maneuvered the tuk tuk with the skill of a race driver on a slick course. He’s a hero to me. He waited for me in the rain and then took me all the way back to the Wat and asked for the same fare that I gave him the time he took me to the bus. I slipped him an extra $2.00 and he was so happy. “For my baby, he said.”
The baby, I learned is one month old.
I barely got back to the Wat with enough time to put my stuff in my room with Keog’s help and then with another tuk tuk, went to teach English to the school kids.
On the way back, in places the road was in total darkness, except for a few fire flies, and the sounds of crickets. My dinner was waiting for me.
I’m now going to post below what I wrote on the bus. I will post the writing from yesterday. Be patient about photos for awhile, please.
Leaving Viet Nam nearly brought tears to my traveling companion, Kate. She fell in love with Viet Nam and can’t wait to return.
I, on the other hand, am ready to call it a day – weekend, anyway. It’s been an interesting journey and I’m happy for the opportunity.
We stayed in a hot tourist area where it was alive with action day and night. Daytime merchants with fans, fanning your face hoping you’d buy, restaurants, shops of all kinds, beckoned us to come in.
“Ours is the better”. We’d find out later that many of the restaurants are connected with one owner.
I was eating dinner last night with my back to the street and some man began messaging my neck. Message madam? Massage? You feel good? Massage? “ “No thank you.” “Massage?”
“No thank you and please go away.”
“Newspaper?” You want a newspaper, Madam?”
“No thank you..”
“Newspaper Madam.” Well, guess she didn’t hear the first time.
One evening I decided to get a facial and Kate went with me for a massage. We had the brochure and address but couldn’t find the salon.
“Come here, Madam. Spa. You’ll feel good.”
“No, I want to find this place.” I showed the eager young man, and his reply was….”No good. This place better.”
“No, I want to go to this place do you know how to get there.”
“I show you follow me.” Well, turns out he didn’t know and instead led us to a tiny side street that had a big neon business sign announcing: MASSAGE!!!
That looked like a place where the ladies of the night perform their ‘feel good’ medicine, but I persevered, and kept walking to the end of the alley and there was the spa.
I got my facial and Kate got her massage.
“I believe I can fly” was the music played throughout the hour and half. Once in awhile, one of the women would try to change the music but it always, after bumping up to a bar or two of a few other tunes, returned back to, “I believe I can fly.”
Later, I purchased two pairs of pants at the open market because I had only one pair with me and they were filthy with mud, something like tar stains, and just too difficult to wash out by hand, so I left them there to be thrown out.
The deal for the two pairs of pants was a great deal….for the merchant! I didn’t do so well at bargaining, but got what I needed.
Yesterday, we took a daylong tour to Cuchi tunnels.
The underground Ben Duoc battlefield tunnel system could almost give me a claustrophobic nightmare.
The tunnels were situated near the Gia Dinh Regional Party headquarters and military command. The tunnels have of late, been classified a national relic. The underground systems are deeply located in a cobweb of boarding, meeting and fighting areas.
Our guide, a funny, tiny man pointed out several times that Viet Nam people could climb in the holes and through the tunnels easily, but, “American’s have big asses. They get stuck.”
We got to the forest area where peaceful people once lived, and walked through a long, wide open tunnel until we came to those tiny underground holes. There was once crawl space that I could have gone through the maze like nearly everyone else did. But I, and a very tall man, who would have had to crawl most of the way because of his height, and he also had an open wound from a motorcycle accident, sat it out with the guide and watched the folks pop up at various exits. They were all sweating profusely and seemed happy to see the opening.
I’m finding it difficult to walk in places with steps and no side railings. There always seems to be a hand there to support me.
At one point on the long walk we watched a video about the Viet Nam war that showed the devastation of a country at the mercy of American war machine.
We also went to the War Museum where I lost it emotionally. One photo after a next: Children, young men fearing for their lives, and begging for mercy at the point of a gun, elderly men and women bent over trying to run, and more devastating photos by war journalists. Many journalists died during the war, and many American soldiers went missing. There are statistics on the numbers of Vietnamese who died and American’s, as well. Who needs statistics? The war was unnecessary.
The war was hell.