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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

White Horses, Horking & Lumpy Pillows

Today I saw someone wearing an Alf shirt.  I haven't seen an Alf shirt since the early 90's... which leads me to believe that it might still might be a popular show here in Vietnam?

I've noticed that Tin Tin is still big... and apparently Tom & Jerry.... There are interesting shirts pretty much everywhere you look.  I've compiled a list of my personal favourites;

  • Never Give Up...  I won't.

  • Love is Big...  very deep.

  • Dance Like It's Sunday...  usually I'm working early breakfast shift on Sundays, which doesn't allow me much time to dance, but dammit, I wish I could.

  • Never Stop Loving...  never have... never will.

  • Future Belong to Them Who Believe in To Dream...  I 'almost' bought this shirt for the sole purpose of owning a piece of clothing so properly worded. I WILL be adding to the list...

THAT you can count on. But... on another note, I'm doing OK.

I decided that it would be a good idea to get out, get some fresh air, clear my head... so I booked a trekking tour in Bach Ma National Park... about an hour drive from Hue. I desperately needed to get out of this city.  No offence to Hue.  Perhaps a lot of offence to the hotel... but honestly, I just needed to get away, get some exercise and be far removed from anything that might trigger an uncontrollable emotion... be it anger, sadness... etc. I could not have picked anything better to do with my day.

Bach Ma was perfect.

Actually, perfect was perhaps a slight oversight. Every single person on the trip was German. Lucky for me, the tour guide didn't speak German, so the entire tour was conducted in English.  Looking back at the tour now, it was probably a bit of a blessing in disguise that everyone was German. It meant no small talk.  I kept to myself. One would naturally think that being submerged, deep in nature for the day, would be the ideal location for some serious and thoughtful soul searching.  On a day that probably should have been spent in reflection, I instead spent making sure that one foot went in front of another, over and over again... and that's about it.  My mind went blank. Completely clear.  I really didn't think of much at all... some senseless dribble every now and then, as per the norm with me... but for most of the day, I just clocked out... We were given the proper 'climbing' attire for the day... climbing strap, rope, carabiner.. bike helmet... you know, the usual. My helmet had a large, annoying piece of Velcro on the back strap, which resulted in a chunk of my hair being ripped out of my head every time I removed it.Good times. Getting back to the Germans... most of the were couples, two of the dressed in the same matching trekking suit, 50% of them smoked, 5 of them were (quite noticeably) bra-less elderly women in their 60's, 2 of them were wearing flip flops and one girls waist was the size of my upper arm... I kid you not. They all smiled at me congenially, but no one really made the effort to include me in their conversations or their jokes.

I was curious as to how I ended up on a German tour... stupid hotel girl that booked me on this. I HATE my hotel...Breath... Tranquility now...

Story for later... Bach Ma National Park was great for a day of hiking.  The rain came and went, and when it would come, our entire group would stop, reach in to our packs and drape ourselves with our flimsy colourful plastic rain protection... and then we'd all keep going.  Five minutes later, the rain would stop,  and in turn, we would all stop, strip down to our normal clothes again and trek on! It was good jungle environment and on more than one occasion, we saw monkeys swinging from tree to tree. Bach Ma translates to White Horse... which I found rather amusing.  I go to Monkey Mountain and I don't see one single damn monkey... then I venture in to Bach Ma, there are monkeys all over the place... and not a single white horse.  It's crap.

I intend to write a letter.

We took one path which led us up to a French-era hill top station at the summit, 1450m, the highest point in the park...  It would have been a fantastic photo opportunity had not the clouds been so thick. As we made our way in to the thick of the jungle, down the 5-lake path, the trail got more gruelling...

This is where the 'trekking' became treacherous and Occupational Health & Safety Canada would NEVER allow such an area to be open to the public... especially the public decked out in flashy bike helmets and flip flops. The tour had specified to bring your best hiking shoes... but I guess some people didn't either care or pay attention. I don't think I could have done it in flip flops... it was daunting enough in regular running shoes, roped in and grasping to any rope, tree branch or truck, praying I wouldn't slip and fall.

Đừng giết tôi, làm ơn.

We stopped along the way to see some enormous Daddy long-legs, a small snake, tree frogs, butterflies... and did I mention the insane amount of leeches and wasps?  Once one leech was seen, after every encounter with any amount of water, I was all over my feet and legs.  

Operation Leech Removal.  

I got three of the suckers before they got me!

We were led down a very steep, slippery and narrow path, winding us through crevasses & caves, along slippery rock ledges, down boulders & rubble, river beds and soaked ladders.  The scenery was spectacular and the entire park where we were was abound with small lakes, creeks, waterfalls, cascades and pristine, clear blue swimming ponds.  

We were given the option to swim if we wanted. I didn't of course, because I didn't bring my bathing suit! Funny that, eh? I think we can all agree that I spent enough time and money tracking down my bikinis in Vietnam, that I really should just be wearing them all over the country now. It felt good to be active and to be strenuous with my muscles.  If I thought I was a cave goat the other day, I definitely was now, clamouring all over slippery rocks.  The physical activity made me feel better and helped eliminate any stress, depression or anxiety that probably would have been in overload, had I been anywhere else but on the trail.  Most of the group were along the same level... but we did have to wait each time for a few of them... the ones in flip flops and the ones without bras, unfortunately.

The tour ended about 4pm and we were all safe back at our hotels by 5pm.  I have to mention the word 'safe' because after the tour, I read that many people managed to fall and break bones in this particular location.I don't normally think of myself as lucky... but lucky me...

In order to escape my living hell, I took off to my new favourite Nook restaurant again to relax, have some spring rolls and enjoy a glass or two of wine. In true "lovin' this city" fashion, I stepped in dog shit on my way home.  If that wasn't bad enough, while I was in the 'bathroom/toilet/shower', I managed to wash my entire body with a bar of hotel soap that was still wrapped in its plastic cover.  I just kept thinking "this is cheap soap... doesn't lather very much..."I'm pretty thick at times...

Best part is that I didn't even realize it until I was OUT...... well, back in again...

Now you might be thinking... that was nice of the hotel to give you soap... see? They aren't as bad as you made them out to be.  It was soap from a different, better hotel- and I stole it for moments exactly like this!

Please keep in mind that I have come from beautiful, quaint little places up until this moment. Please also note that I've just heard some bad news, so every little thing I'm feeling or experiencing right now is intensified... greatly.  I'm making excuses for the hotel now, due to my frame of mind, which I shouldn't, because it was shit... Here goes;

  • It's dirty... I have to make mention of the stairs in particular... a disgrace to the mopping movement.  I almost feel like sending them a box of Mr. Clean erase markers to help out.

  • The Internet went on & off and back & forth...  Can't image why- the wires all look like they're hanging correctly in the picture??? ... see photo below.

  • There is no f'in' mini bar.  Funny how quickly I become accustomed to having this, eh? I've never used this particular reason for berating a hotel, but it was desperately needed.

  • Lumpy pillows - once again... see photo below.

  • No sheets.  Old, beat up thin, pink comforter that looks like it went through a few consignment shops before making it to this doozie of a pit.

  • No maid service - I had to go and get a clean towel in the morning (down 87 steps). Remember how I told you that the bathroom was an all-in-one... like 'conditioning shampoo'?  Well, after I dried myself off, I had to dry the floor... hence needing a new towel. There was no 'bathmat' that I could find.

  • No soap provided - thank God I brought my own... and got an extra use of it both in and out of the plastic covering.

  • Nothing on the walls except dust bunnies...

  • No toilet paper. I've mentioned this one a few times. It sucked. Big. On both ends.

  • Plastic cling film taped over every light switch... were they worried about germs? That's rich.

  • BUGS - bugs in the bed, bugs in my luggage, bugs on the floor, bugs on my body... little tiny bugs everywhere. I also think that a rodent got in during the night and got trapped in my dresser for a bit.

  • Loud - there was NO insulation.  Only openings... and lucky me on the top floor in the House of the Rising Sound... I'm privy to everything!  Screaming baby and throat-phlegm-horking & spitting man - and he did this from about 5am-8am, and then again from about 6pm-9pm. No word of a lie. Really?

HOW much phlegm can one person cough up? I actually jumped up in a rage of fury on the second night, opened the door and screamed down the stairs shaft "SERIOUSLY??" and then slammed my door. Super hard. Bad ass, It didn't stop...

  • Fluorescent neon light bar - which was bright, intrusive and buzzed VERY loudly. Despite its pitch, it did not rival the horking man... no, it did not.

This was exactly what I would imagine as the place I would stay right out of the clink. Now... I'm going to step aside from my complaining for one moment and give them the benefit of the doubt for just one teeny tiny second... When I first checked in, I showed the lady my booking number, passport... blah blah blah... then I showed her the $10.98 I had already paid.  There was oodles of confusion, as she tried to charge me $10.98 again... big mess of a check in... whatever.

Finally it all got sorted out- I didn't have to pay the fee again and up I went to my attic hole.  This was obviously a $10.98 booking fee and I would settle up the difference with my credit card when I checked out. So... upon check out, I inquired as to how much money I owed. Nothing.No? Nothing? .... I'd paid...

Two nights. $10.98.  

It was $5.49 per night!  That's it.

No wonder it was such a shit hole.... and NO WONDER there was no mini bar.

Ooops... Maybe I should check things like that...

I never thought I'd grow up to be such an ass, but look at me now...

... killin' it...

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