Saturday, 11 November 2017

A RIDE on the SUPERDONG 9....WTF?.... LMAO ..... NO, really that IS what it is called

5:00

After a few phone calls my world is much better.  Grandma is chasing the nurses around to do her bidding (they already did her bedding ;-) and after seeing NUMEROUS different doctors for 2 months, my Kookum finds out that she doesn't have liver cancer after all.  It takes SO LONG to find ONE GOOD doctor !



6:00

I check my credit card statement and there is a $2000 pending charge from Air Transat.  WTF?   Some Canadian asshole is trying to use my credit card to book themselves an overpriced 1-week getaway to Cuba or Mexico?   Well, FUCK YOU!  I'm going to report this to the credit card and make sure they GET YOU, FUCKER !   Why is it that in small-town Vietnam NO-ONE is trying to rip off even a wealthy tourist, but that in North America some asshole tries to illegally use my credit card about every 5 months?   I'm SO SICK OF IT !


6:15

What is that I smell when stepping out onto my balcony?  Freshly Fried Fish ?
YUMMY !

7:00 

I step outside.  Right into pandemonium. 

Women sitting in front of their baskets filled with fish and mussels along the river bank.  On the other side of the street women sitting in stands with huge piles of 5 different kinds of eggs.  Ranging from quail, chicken, duck, goose to something that looks like dinosaur egg.  And it's all FRESH FRESH FRESH !

My breakfast is on that bicycle on the right ;-)
I find the stand again that I saw earlier and buy two utterly unknown things for $0.44.

10 feet away, I am greeted by an old Viet man with Bon Jour Monsieur. I guess the French were still here 70 years ago ;-) 



One of those deep fried meat thingy. And a glazed crunchy sugary thing. Ngon!  The total for that filling and very enjoyable breakfast is $0.44.  


Grandma said this morning on the phone "...you might not come back".  I assured her that I definitely would do so but deep inside have to hide my disappointment to have to leave Vietnam again. 


7:35 am

The heat dropping onto me when I step onto my balcony is INTENSE.   Beach weather is here, LOL.

Time for another nap ....


9:30 

I pick up my ferry ticket at the reception.  And YES, it is stated on my ticket: I will ride the Superdong 9 today.  


I decide to WALK the 1.6 km to the ferry terminal in the outrageous heat instead of taking a taxi.  This will give me a chance to see the town, the river, and the ocean from the bridge.
Pedestrian walk?  NOPE.  Imagine walking over a major bridge without one in North America !
No problem here though ...


They just swerve around you, as they do everywhere ...


Ha Tien


.... out there .... is an island
I walk to the nearest ferry pier first, but that's the wrong one.  By the end of my 2 km walk in the heat I start wondering whether not taking a taxi really was such a great idea.

But I make it. 5 more minutes and I see my ride arrive.



Yup. That's what it's called .....


15 minutes later, the passengers are admitted into the FREEZING passenger room.


It is COLD in here and the doors to the little deck on the back are LOCKED !  How VERY UN-SouthEastAsian.
heavy, I guess ....


first OVER, now UNDER


there goes my hotel (the dark orange one)
As soon as we pass under the bridge, the usual South-East-Asian adherence to rules takes over.  The doors to the outside deck are unlocked and smoking smokers mingle with the numerous NON-smoking signs ;-)



In Vancouver it probably would be suicidal to spend any time on the outside decks of a Fast Ferry at this time of year, but here the combination of temperature and wind is just perfect (MUCH preferable to the FREEZER conditions inside the passenger compartment).

But it definitely IS windy !
























a small island in the middle of nowhere


Phu Quoc at the horizon


getting closer ....
I spot my target when I'm still in my seat on the moving ferry.  

The ferry person is corralling the crowd of hopeful  taxi drivers first to one side of the exit plank and then to the other. He uses his hands to SHOVE them back.

There will be too many taxis for the guests coming off the boat.  Half of the guys here will have waited and let themselves be shoved for nothing.   
I watch the shoving from the boat and I see him.  He's the youngest.  He has the biggest grin of them all and every time the bulk of taxi drivers gets shoved somewhere else, he grins and VOLUNTARILY goes into the second row. The kid knows how to show respect to his more experienced colleagues.  But acting like that, he will NEVER get a fare !


I am the last to leave the ferry and more than half of the taxi drivers are still there.  The older and more bullying drivers instantly approach me with their taxi taxi? calls.  This means that the kid is no longer hidden in the second row.  I point at him and say "Taxi?".   His facial expression couldn't have been more confused if I had told him that today is TET, Easter, CHRISTMAS, and his birthday all together.  As soon as he realized that I'm NOT kidding, he puts BOTH hands across one of my upper arm and starts pulling me towards where I assume his taxi is. His taxi is the VERY LAST in the row, furthest from land and furthest from the ferry. LOL.  I picked the right driver ;-) 




The taxi driver has NO idea where my hotel is.  

I have NO idea where my hotel is.  

So we just drive towards the location indicated on Google Maps on my and his cell phones.  Then the map says that we passed it.  But there was NOTHING there!  His driving skills are horrendous as I notice when he tries a U-turn and gets stuck at right angle to the road between a bicycle and a lorry.  


STOP!  The location marker matches the hotel marker !   Still NOTHING here.  Thankfully I manage to convince him that it would NOT be a good idea to drive down the road-resembling gully leading to the ocean.  


I start walking, hoping that there are no cobras sleeping in the dense low brush surrounding the narrowing path.


I reach the water without bite marks on my toes.


Still NOTHING !
  
But people in a nearby occupied restaurant nod in the direction I was walking already when I asked them where my hotel was.
There it is ! 
The location market on Google Maps was just plain WRONG (Something I will submit and correct tomorrow;  Call me SUPER DU LICH, LOL)
But without this detour I would not have walked through this amazing pile of admittedly dead sea stars.


a BUS? ME in a BUS??? ..... No other way to get to Ha Tien

10:00

I've packed all my stuff in my hotel in Chau Doc, and I'm wearing a new shirt.  CAD$ 10.55 including taxes  ;-)   


The last two days were the first real visit to Parts Unknown and now it's time to move further into the UNKNOWN.


My bus to Ha Tien is supposed to leave at 10:30 in front of my hotel. Might as well wait down in the lobby while I still remember that the hotel guy still has my passport ;-)


A guy on a motorbike shows up and I'm told to get on.
The bike doesn't actually deliver me to a bus depot.  It drops me at the side of the road where minutes later the bus becomes visible driving off a ferry ramp, LOL.


It's NOT a private bus company as I had expected but it's a public bus !  COOL!
First Stop:  Gas station (this is also where one more passenger gets scooter-delivered to us)


SECOND STOP; for15 minutes.  For What?  I have NO IDEA where the driver went, LOL


I was taking a picture of the bus and didn't even notice the tiny old lady
And then, we are FINALLY on our way.
ALL The Passengers on the ENTIRE trip :
1 woman with her daughter, 1 old lady, 2 school children who get on close to the destination of Ha Tien. 
That's it.  
I'm the only one that rides the whole distance.

The Bus Crew:   1 Driver, 1 ticket seller, and the Other Guy (The Mechanic?).  
FOURTH STOP: Pick up a bag of I have no idea what  (and The Crew)


FIFTH STOP; 20 min coffee stop in God knows where
This village is built on the High Way.  NOT Highway as in today's meaning, but High Way in the old meaning.   While the fronts of the houses are level with the 'highway', their backs are ALL supported by stilts over water.   The road is the only solid piece of ground for quite some distance around.  A High Way !


let's call it rural, LOL




those hills .... that is Cambodia 


What I LOVE about Viet buses.   The music! LOL










The bus finally drives into Ha Tien.   It only took FOUR HOURS for the 88 km.


Hey, the bus just went past the bus depot.  They're not, are they?  Yup.  They're dropping me off right in front of my hotel, LOL.



There is some confusion during check-in again. NEVER accept a room key before they have called the ONE person who speaks English, LOL ;-)




fancy bathroom !


see that innocent cloud on the left?


Yeah right. Innocent my ass !
But it's over soon and I'm heading out to explore.
MUST document new shirt ;-)
I'm out looking for an office that sells ferry tickets but have NO luck. 
a touch of Lhasa?
But I find two bottles of wine for a total of VND 170,000.   NOT bad!
Those COLOURS !!!!


LOL, I'm going to ride the 9 tomorrow !


Even this sleepy fishing village is ready for the future tourist onslaught !


Another one:  I start walking FAST towards my hotel ....
I must have dozed off around 19:00 but when I wake up at 21:00 I am confused about where I am.   Is this that China Southern flight on the way to Guangzhou on which I spent the vast majority of the awake time listening to Chinese Opera?   It shouldn't be that but how to explain what I'm hearing?????

I step out onto the balcony. OMG, there 50 meters to my left.   


Time to go get some munchies and have a closer look !  Only when I'm only 15 meters away from them, do I realize that the background instrument is NOT some bizarre Chinese instrument but simply an electric guitar.  


And is the guitar REALLY playing the FRIGGIN TUBULAR BELLS riff ??????   Or did Mike Oldfield STEAL his 70s mega hit from Chinese music??? He MUST HAVE! 

What a MIND opener !