"This is the stuff they warn you about in Apocalypse Now," said Christoff.
"This is why we shouldn't have drunk a bottle of rum on the bus here."
That's actually where it all started. I finished work the Friday afternoon at 5:30, sped home and quickly packed my bag while Christoff sorted the "Walky Drinky" squeegy bottles with some Captain Morgan and Pepsi for padkos. We went down to Pham Ngu Lao where we had a few Tiger Drafts while waiting for our bus to Mui Ne - pronounced "Mooi Né", imagining what wild and wonderfully exotic beach resort we would stay at. Little did we know that the one we were staying in was, as they say, "off the beaten track", down a side road some 15 kms from the main tourist beach aea - in fact it was in another area code.
We had fun on the bus, just generally talking crap and laughing, and after about 4 hours of driving we showed the bus driver our business card of the Dong Hai Resort, when we thought we were nearing our destination.
Walky Drinky - the way of the future - a trick learnt from many intervarsities
The dude just nodded and we carried on. A while later, his assistant came to us and said he wanted to look at the business card again and went to confer with the driver. A few minutes later a bus came from the opposite side and our driver flagged them down. They, in turn, conferred for a few minutes and it was duly decided that Christoff and I would transfer to the other bus because we had passed our resort. So we jumped on the other bus which, of course as Murphy's Law would have it, was full so Christoff stood and I sat on the steps. After what felt like ages our newly appointed bus driver decided that the above-mentioned turn-off was where we would be dropped and basically kicked us out with smile.
"Luckily it's not raining from all sides like Forrest Gump said," I optimistically mused. So we went for a pleasant early morning walk down what, for all we knew, could have been a wrong-turn, dead-end road which could have ended up like a B-grade horror movie with twisted incest-ridden axe-wielding half-breeds hiding in the jungle and hunting us d0wn but it wasn't because a few kilometers later we found our resort, woke the dogs up which woke the owners up and got our room.
The place was really nice: on the beach, quiet, but quite expensive and we felt a bit strange being the only non-Vietnamese and English-speakers there but it was a cool experience. The next day we took a taxi to the real Mui Ne where all the tourists hang out, drinking cocktails and lazing on the beach. This was more what we expected and actually found a place where we could stay the Sunday night for the tenth of the price we were currently paying, albeit a bit-more dodgy.
Anyways, we bought another bottle of rum and headed down to the beach, just chilling and swimming. Later we went to look for a place to watch the Springbok game but there was none to be found so we just carried on with what we doing and I woke up the next day wondering what happened to the previous one.
Christoff and our new friends (from right to left in case you couldn't recognise them)
Sunday was an awesome day - slight tropical breeze, coconuts swaying in the wind, the smell of mangoes and seafood in the air and we decided to swop accomodation for the better-located, cheaper but dodgier bungalows . It was grand, but what did we do? The same thing we did everyday Pinky: bought a bottle of rum (come on, when in Rome huh?) and headed down to the beach.
"Tropical the island breeze, this is where I long to be, all of nature young and free, La Isla Bonita"
Actually, now that I think about it, we did few other things. I went cruising around on a bike, checking out the scenery and other beaches and Christoff went for a massage, but mostly, we just lay on the beach drinking rum and making up stories about the fishermen in their peanut-shell boats. One story about the legend of Nguyen Van Troi, Troi: The Fisher King, is soon to become an international best-seller, surpassing The Da Vinci Code in the "not-sure-whether-this-is-fact or fiction" category.
Some of Nguyen Van Troi's posse
That night, a tropical storm, monsoon, hurricane or As the aussies call it, a Willy Willy hit with a vengeance and furious anger. Whatever you call it, it was a killer. The roads were flooded until the next morning, people were driving neck deep in dirty water, coconuts were bouncing of roofs like pinballs (with little ingenuity we could have worked out a scoring system and made it into a drinking game even Jannie Smuts would have been proud of: 2 points for a coconut in the swimming pool, 10 for one on the head). We just sat on our stoep and watched. Sardines caught by the locals looked like they were practising synchronised flying, sandcastles were building themselves, and the peanutshell boats looked like frisbees flying through the air.
Soos hulle sê in Afrikaans: Een man se dood is 'n ander man se brood (of so iets) - coconuts collected after the storm
We decided to call it an early night because we had to come back to Saigon the next morning at 8 am. Little did we know (but we should of expected) that our bus was not late, it was not coming at all. Our travel agent guy gave us some lame excuse but said he'd booked us place on the next minibus back to HCH City at noon. So we waited and when it arrived - it arrived. With a ta-ta-ta-ta-ra-ra hooter honk that sounded like something out of a Laurel and Hardy skit (the sound still haunts my dreams to this day). The minibus was already packed ala African-style when we got in, but they took the lady and her child who were sitting in front and threw them in the pack despite her protestations, and we still managed to pick up four more people on the way. It was straight out like a scene from some surf-travel movie except we didn't have boards.
We arrived safely despite numerous heart-wrenching stunt-driving antics by our driver (think: 1-way road, our minibus overtaking a car, which is overtaking a truck which is overtaking a motorbike). And I even managed to pick up a $2 Dis Mooi Né? t-shirt as a souvenir. We can't wait for the next public holiday so we can do it all again.