A long trip and some top food with ‘old’ friends at Pha Cao Lanh – Day 167 – 4 July

We had a bit of a lie in today but once we were reasonably awake and had broken our fast then we were due to be up and off travelling to our next destination once again. Our next ‘Mission Impossible’ objective was for us to get to a place called Pha Cao Lanh. The reason we wanted to go here was that Nick and his Dad, who we had met on the My Son trip at Hoi An had invited us to come and stay with them at Nick’s Uncle’s house there. All we had to do now was get there!

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Saying Goodbye to Thong – top chap really

First up was the somewhat precarious return journey to the ferry once again riding on the back of the moped. It was still quite a trick, managing to stay on and carry my backpack but at least this time we had no children jumping out at us for us to mow down so we made it to the ferry ‘terminal’ in good time. The return trip was a real beauty as the tracks and lanes we rode on were right next to the many waterways which crisscrossed the area. We reached the rickety ferry just as our bums were beginning to feel the strain but this time there would only be a short respite as our riders were going to stay with us and take us all the way to the bus stop where we could catch the bus to Pha Cao Lanh. So once across the river we mounted up again – argh. By this time I was definitely feeling a little ‘saddle sore’ to say the least. It had been good of the hotel to arrange this ‘extra’ for us though, so I would have to take the rough with the smooth. On this side of the river the journey definitely took a rather more ‘exciting’ turn as we were now being ridden through the heavy traffic and this is not for the faint hearted. Once or twice I heard a scream from Liz, whereas I, very manfully, just shut my eyes … lol. We then seemed to lose Liz and her rider just before we turned off from the road that would have taken us back past the Friendship bridge to Saigon. Thong carried on though and took me to the bus stop and then we waited … and waited …until even Thong got a wee bit anxious and was thinking of making a ride back when who should come putt putting up from the distance … but my wife and her rider. The bus stop safely reached we paid our guides and then awaited the bus.

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My wife, Liz doing her bit for Anglo-Vietnamese relations …

The bus was still a while coming and by this time we were getting hungry but we dare not go looking for food in case we missed our transport. It was not too long though and our bus was comfortable enough but not overly so and, as ever, it was one of those hot drives where you want to open the windows but the smoggy fumes deter you from doing so. We arrived at Pha Cao Lanh a little bit fraught after the journey’s tribulations and by now ravenous too so our first port of call was to grab a bite to eat. Once we had eaten our fill we were in a much better frame of mind so we took the walk down to the ferry which turned out to be another somewhat rickety tub but the journey was short and smooth enough so not long after boarding we were soon enough disembarking on the other side.

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Everyone ‘mucking in’ to prepare the evening meal

Once ashore we contacted Nick and soon enough him and his Dad drove up and took us back to the house. This turned out to be a revelation as it was part internet cafe, part restaurant, part fishing pond and yet also had chickens and other farm animals as well as land for growing vegetables, all of which made the family pretty much self sufficient. We were given the grand tour and next door we met a lady harvesting the rice who spoke to Nick’s Dad whilst cutting the rice with one hand and holding it with the other. I had a go, until she sacked me for being too slow, and the blade turned out to be as sharp as a razor so speaking and cutting was impossible for the uninitiated. Back in the house we were shown to our bed in what appeared to be a window recess in the kitchen but it was really good and so very kind of them to put us up. Once settled in it seemed to us that the ladies of the family simply spent all of their time cooking and the evening meal was something to behold. There were loads of dishes but the most memorable included hot pot pork, clams and some large prawns all cooked in spices and were truly delicious.

After we could eat no more we simply chilled out with Nick and his girlfriend Gabby and just chatted about all sorts really as you do. Nick was attempting to join the fire brigade back in Melbourne, whilst Gabby worked as a nursery nurse and in turn they were keen to hear more about our journey thus far and where we were planning to go when we were in Australia. All together a nice relaxing end to what had been quite a tiring day.

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