A family from California moves to Ho Chi Minh City. Hilarity ensues.
Warning: picture-heavy but text-light post ahead.
Last weekend I ditched the family and ventured down to the Mekong River Delta for a bike tour with a bunch of fellow teachers. We skipped town straight from school and enjoyed the sites (and bumps) of the Vietnamese road system.
The short boat ride at dusk made the long afternoon on the bus worth it.
After a night cooking our own bánh xèo and sleeping in a colonial palace, complete with an ancient graveyard out back, we found ourselves on the waterways, floating toward our two-wheeled transport.
And we’re off!
The tour mostly meandered along narrow “roads” (Americans would call them sidewalks) which carried the occasional motorbike or pedestrian and skirted the canals and tributaries of the area. It was mellow and, needless to say, gorgeous. I wanted to pull over every two minutes to take a picture but tried to conserve my stops.
So we’re riding on one of these mini roads and we suddenly find ourselves inside a rice-hulling factory. Wackadoo!
One of the many ferries we called home for a few moments.
The locals were universally friendly and every single one of the 546,489 kids we passed yelled “Hello!” as we whizzed past. We quickly learned that answering in our poor Vietnamese didn’t go over nearly as well as replying in kind.
Some local boat makers.
Lunch was at a Vietnamese version of a truck stop.
Ok, maybe not a truck stop.
A quick wander around the grounds revealed some treasures.
This fisherman taught us a physics lesson involving a simple lever.
Back on the bikes!
Then, over a period of about three seconds, the tone of the trip abruptly changed, as did my velocity. I made the brilliant decision to brake hard in order to take my 373rd picture, and while my bike stopped quite nicely, my body kept going.
I did not stick the landing.
I am currently typing this with one functional hand, though I did pop right up to take the picture – which as you can see below, was not at all worth it.
The company which was running the tour was particularly awesome, both before and after my accident. They had a guide at the rear and a truck following everyone in case the silly gringos needed help. I was whisked away to a local cafe while three support staff, powered by Red Bull, poured various potions on my wounds to ward off noxious infections. I was talked into skipping the rest of the bicycling for that day.
Saturday ended with a beautiful dinner on the river and a fabulous night of sleep in a hotel too shmancy for me to ever have picked it out myself. The view from its breakfast terrace was impressive.
We had to hit the river early to check out the floating market.
Okay, this one wasn’t floating.
I joined the group for a bit more cycling that morning. My left hand had started to balloon, but who needs TWO hands, anyway?
Upon returning to Saigon that afternoon I popped over to our local medical establishment for a quick x-ray. I could wiggle my fingers so it couldn’t possibly be broken.
Blast that darn fifth metacarpal! (For those of you worried about my wrist, that’s actually what it’s supposed to look like. Look just to the right of the L, which stands for “take a good Look at that ring before the doctor saws it off so your finger doesn’t explode from the swelling.)
And I’ve now finally joined the broken bone club. It’s got some nice members, but initiation was a bit of a bummer.