Monday, May 07, 2007

The long-awaited guest post

Well, where to begin…

I guess an introduction would do, I’m Alan, aka mullet, Henno’s friend. I decided to come and visit him and Christoff at their crib in the Tan Binh District. The past two weeks here in Vietnam have been an adventure unlike any I’ve had before.

The chaos of being on Ho Chi Minh City’s streets in peak traffic or the tranquility of the beaches with it’s palm trees and peanut fishing boats. The peace and luxury of a massage and facial or the thrill and rugged beauty of travelling the countryside on a scooter, seeing parts of the Vietnamese countryside in ways that many westerners will never experience and shooting targets with an AK47 assault rifle or haggling with a shopkeeper in the market over the price of water. Eating amazing meals in a restaurant with 5 star service or chowing down on a durian fruit or a pigeon’s head. The graphic, disturbing and mostly justified hatred of America for the Vietnam War from the local perspective depicted in all of the museums and other war-related tourist attractions or the selfless attitude of locals who would like nothing better than to help a person to get the most from their visit regardless of the reward.

These are but a few of the crazy, amazing, unexpected, annoying, shocking (and many more adjectives that I cant be bothered to mention) experiences that I’ve had in Vietnam.

When I first arrived at the airport to see Henno and Christoff calmly leaning against their scooters anxiously waiting to see my initial reaction, I was completely overwhelmed by the city and all that it had to offer but after a few days, even initially strange things like the upbeat music, drawling bleat or decidedly midi tune of a passing merchant selling some or other product or service became a familiar sound that formed part of the day to day hum of HCMC and just faded into the background.

One of the highlights of the trip would have to be taking a scooter out into the countryside to go and see the Cu Chi tunnels, getting lost on the way there, lost on the way back, getting caught in a tropical thunderstorm and soaked to the bone before being flagged of the road and into a tiny roadside “cafĂ©” for a Coke and bombarded by questions in both Vietnamese and broken English. Another, playing footie with the Saigon Raiders and kicking some ass before retiring from heat exhaustion and blistered feet.

I won’t even begin to mention embarrassing karaoke jaunts, throwing up after memorable (?!) nights on the town and sampling some of the more exotic fruits and delicacies.

I could hardly begin to summarise everything that I have seen, done and experienced in the two weeks I’ve been here but I can say that it has been an amazing experience and a shitload of fun. It has also been awesome to see two of my good friends and the friends that they have made along the way enjoying life and being so at ease and content.

Thanks burgs for showing me how you roll, It was killer. Enough said.