19 October, 2006

On being sick, watching lots of Deadwood, and the beach


I got really sick somehow. I don't think it was anything I ate, because on Tuesday Kenny and I ate almost exactly the same things all day long, and on Wednesday morning I woke up feeling really rough. I won't go into any gross details, but suffice it to say that thing were moving along in a downward motion at a nice clip. Was that obtuse? I had the runs. Very, very badly. I got it together enough to get over to the yoga studio to do my morning shift, but after going to the bathroom 3 times in 15 minutes, I thought that maybe the beautiful pristine studio where I am supposed to help people feel peaceful and at ease was not the most ideal place to be doing my thing. Plus the chills and sweats were starting to kick in. My lovely and helpful coworker Keiko granted me leave and I headed home, sweaty and achy and hoping I wouldn't do anything to embarrass my xe om driver.

Upon making back upstairs, I crashed onto the bed and pretty much didn't vary my bed-toilet-bed-toilet pattern for 12 hours. In the afternoon, body aches set in and I felt like my whole body had been thrown around a mosh pit. So achy! And the headache, oy vey. Finally, at 8pm, I gave up on the waking world and--just for a change--went to sleep. I slept for so long. And somewhere in the middle of the night, miracle of miracles, I was cured! The only problem was Kenny caught it. This morning I nearly bounded out of bed, but would have tripped over the moaning pile under the blankets that was my sickly boyfriend. So funny to see it all from the other side: my exact symptoms, replicated. Ha ha.

In other news, we went again to Nha Trang and had, if slightly less drunken, a fine time indeed. The BEST part of the whole weekend, and perhaps one of the top 5 things I've done in Vietnam so far, was renting motorbikes and taking them way the heck up into the moutains, searching for some elusive waterfalls that Kim knew about.

Renting a motorbike is excitingly cheap and sickeningly irresponsible (at least, coming from a western point of view and having insurance salesmen in the family). We needed to show no ID. We needed no proof of driving ability, or to even prove that we were not currently on drugs or planning to ride them off cliffs. They didn't even need to know where we were going! One thing that soothed my western mind was that we were encouraged to take our chosen bikes for test rides up and down the alley next to the renting place slash hotel. The price is 50,000vd [$3.11] for up to 6 hours, or 100,000vd [$6.24] for the whole day. Woo! And away we went!

The hardest part was getting out of town. We knew that once we hit the highway, things would be easier going with less traffic and fewer turns to remember. The problem was that we had about 12 people in our party, 2 of whom had motorbike experience (funnily enough, they were also the two who spoke Vietnamese). So being the speed demon I fancy I am, I naturally gravitated towards the front of the pack, where our cautious guide was continually braking and pulling over to make sure we were all still behind her (which we were, we were just all trying to f*&king pull over on the side of the road like she was, grr!) and so finally she told me where the next few turns were and one by one we all passed her by and let the wind whip over us. Oh man, motorbikes are fun! I really enjoyed mine. One of the girls in our party kept having accidents though. I felt pretty bad for her, and I'm not sure why it kept happening to her and no one else. Here's a picture of what it looks like when you've busted up your knee from a motorbike crash (G rated version):

Crashes aside, the drive up into the mountains was breathtakingly gorgeous. I was hestitant to take pictures because to get the camera out meant to stop driving, and that meant taking myself out of the moment for a moment, and I just couldn't bring myself to. Now, of course I'm grateful for the few that I did take, but believe me when I say the whole 2-odd hour trip (each way, thereabouts) was photo worthy. What I would have gave for a helmet cam! Here are some of my favorite things we saw on our way back from the falls:

This is amazing. What year is this guy from? Notice a few things: in his hand, a long switch to drive the ox. In the background, what looks like a woman bandit on a motorbike, but is actually just a modern woman on a motorbike, protecting her skin from those bad bad sun rays. Pale skin is in.

We passed lots of houses, but this one caught my eye because of the red tile roof and the way the light was changing due to an oncoming storm (which never came, but made lots of deep blue hues and added that extra magic to our pictures).

And this one, which is my desktop photo of the moment. I love this one. The sun was setting and so I finally stopped to take a picture, and these two little boys ran out from their house (probably to investigate the dozen or so motorbike sounds that had just roared past their house). I got a couple snaps of them doing various versions of the peace sign, but their Mom was scolwing in the background, so I wanted to stop.

To be honest, I was more wowed by the giant tropical plants than the mountains themselves. I love mountains, but except for the foliage these looked scarily like those in Canton or Swannanoa or Penland. It was the palm trees that amazed me. Check out this giant.

Our motorbike trip took most of Saturday and left us pretty sunburned, so the next morning we took a slighly less choose-your-own-adventure course and went snorkeling all morning. This boat tour was so completely relaxed and low key compared to the party boat floating bar scene of a few weeks past (see previous entries) and I'm glad. We needed to just be one with the fishes. Plus this tour, instead of alcohol, provided thermoses of hot tea and coffee. And bananas. And fresh pineapple slices. Perfect. The only less-than-flawless memory I'll take away from the trip was getting caught in a tide of stinging jellies. They really do pack a punch. But it was so much less traumatic than it could have been: they left no marks, and it was easy to swim out of them. All it caused was some aggravated jumping around and scratching back on the boat. The good parts of the tour are numerous: meeting Carrie from D.C., quality time with Michael and Kim, snorkeling amazingly close to all kinds of cool coral and fish while holding Kenny's hand and gesturing to each other, garbling our words inside our masks, trying to point out cool fish: "mmmph! mmh mpph mummbm!" Oh, the strange fish we saw!

We took to the beach for the rest of the day and did the requisite meal of crab legs and Orangina, reading books and dozing with our iPods. Kenny and I had to catch a 6pm train back to Saigon, and shared a cabin with two of the phlegmiest men in South East Asia, whose incredibly loud conversations seemed mostly to translate as, "listen to this! see how it gugrles?" "Oh yes, do you know this chicken-looking shoulder stretch? it really loosens things up. Listen now!" Followed by lots of awkward and disgusting machinations to get the snot up. I'm grossing myself out just remembering it. Let's move on.

So most of our week was spent getting Ken set up for the job hunt: we put together a rather spiffy resume, did a little networking down at the diner (we have a New York style diner at the end of our alley, which does a bacon eggs and toast special with coffee for a little over a buck, and waffles!) and of course being sick and watching the rest of Deadwood: Season II. Honestly the smartest show ever. I love it love it love it. You like cowboys? You like Shakespeare? You like costume design and whipsmart one-liners? You like Deadwood, the only show where cocksucker! ceases to be a cussword and can be used as a noun, a verb, an all purpose exclamation when feeling suprised or determined, and one man's entire English vocabulary.

Random good news: pomegranates exist in Vietnam, and they are cheap. I may not ever come home. Also, there's a tailor right down the street from me, and they're making me a copy of my favorite skirt for 90,000 (around $5.50). Final great thing: the blog which I've mentioned before [noodlepie.com] has been making my life complete because he, the creator of the site, has archived his two years of research on the street food of Vietnam, with a lot of info about my neck of the woods. This is simply amazing to me. Check out noodlepie.com and scroll through one of the drop down menus titled "scoff and swill." Then pick an interesting Vietnamese word and see what delectable little cheapy you've found. Chances are, I'm eating it within the next few weeks.

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