Today was one of those funky all round good days with the extra addition of Nick and his family thrown in for good measure, the icing on the cake as it were. After waking we started off the day in one of the little covered restaurant table areas that stood along the side of the house. Here we chatted with Gabbi and Nick and had a laugh with the little girl of the family, she was a real cutie and she introduced us to her little blue rabbit, which was quite funny as my niece when she was younger had one that looked just the same.
Then we had a bit of a breakfast with them all round the big table before they told us that they had bikes we could borrow and if we wanted there was a cool place nearby well within range that we could cycle to – Nam Phuong Linh Tu.
The directions to the place seemed easy enough even for us. On our short walk yesterday around the restaurant and outer buildings we could see the land round and about was farmland and quite flat too, always a great aid to happy biking. It was a beautiful day so once ready we set off. Some of the family were going to be joining us there but they were coming down on their mopeds. However, our bike ride slow though it was, was also very nice, we even managed to get in a couple of hellos with the local younguns which always makes us smile and makes even nice bright days like to, just that little bit brighter.
At the temple we reached a parking area by the roadside for bikes just as the family were rolling up. One of the family jumped off his moped, took our bikes and handed them over to a couple of the local bike park attendants (kids) along with some pennies, then we all continued to the entrance. It was free admission so we had no idea what to expect but certainly from the outside it looked impressive enough. The place had been built by a local millionaire who was constantly adding to it and was intended to be a temple of sorts. The grounds were a lush green and there were a few separate shrine areas within the same complex, some were still in the process of being finished off. A lot of the buildings were decorated in teak which was really beautifully carved and the place had some large white stone dragons about the place too. The whole place had been really well thought out and it all very tastefully decorated. It actually looked more Chinese in style but maybe the Vietnamese and Chinese styles share similarities? Nick’s Dad, Joseph, was particularly interested in some huge fish in tanks at the entrance to one of the shrines, he took loads of photos but possibly because he did this I ended up doing the same so I now have loads of fish photos now! The fish themselves were quite ugly specimens, so I am not really sure why we were all taking so many photos of them. For all the work being done to the place many of the statues and items inside the buildings looked quite ancient and outside there were some neat pond features with water lilies and lillypads. It was a really good place to visit for the few hours we were there and our gentle ride back was just as enjoyable as it had been going.
Once back though we felt that we needed a siesta so we relaxed in the restaurant’s hammocks where Liz soon fell asleep, so I let her rest for a while. After only ten or so of her forty winks she awoke with a bit of a start and after a chat we decided to go back out on the bikes once more. This time we went in the opposite direction to the earlier trip heading back towards the ferry and the river. Here we spent some quality time just ambling along by the river and every once in a while we would stop to watch the fishermen and fisherwomen too. In Vietnam there is no sexual discrimination, women do all the jobs the boys do and with just as much enthusiasm too.
The clouds were starting to darken considerably so we rode back and once ‘home’ had a bit of a chat with Nick about the new bridge that we had seen being built in the distance. The bridge build was a big worry to Nick’s Dad and his Uncle who were partners in ownership of the restaurant and its plot of land. When built, the main road they currently stood on would no longer be the main thoroughfare and this could make earning a living here very difficult indeed.
After this seriousness though evening soon enough came about and once again we found ourselves sitting around the big round table and once more eating excellent food. Nick’s Uncle had arrived back from a wedding he had been to all day and as usual for guests at weddings had a bit of a tiddly look about him. He was great fun though and he insisted that we all have a good few drinks with him which were usually followed by some hearty toasting of each other and our friends. It was absolutely brilliant, we met cousins Rouy and Wok, two top Vietnamese drinking compadres and all the while scoffed some top, top food. We were almost the last people standing until we went to bed and then they had a second wind and carried on drinking and eating and generally just having a great and most sociable time of it all – excellent folk.