Sunday, October 16, 2011

Early explorers...

As a Historian in Training, or a HIT as I like to call myself, I've always been fascinated with stories of the past. Have you ever wondered who those brave men were who were the first to sail the ocean blue? People who dared to think outside the box and challenge the known world? What pushed these people to travel into the unknown and discover new lands? What kept them going when fear took over as they were traipsing through the jungles infested with unknown diseases and wild animals looking for their next meal? I have no idea. An entrepreneurial and enterprising spirit maybe? Maybe a fierce determination to bring honor to their homeland? Maybe a thirst for riches and untold fortunes? All I know is that after traveling down the Mekong River on the high speed hydrofoil this past week and seeing the dense jungle that lined the river banks, I could never be one of those early explorers. No matter how tough I am (and I am tough, mom) I couldn't be the first one to discover a place. I more of a 'have someone else discover it for me and then help them start a colony perhaps after a suitable amount of time had passed' type girl. Also, I just saw the first two episodes of Off The Map, a show about 3 young doctors who go to the jungles of South America to work at a free clinic there. One of the challenges they face is a 12-foot anaconda who attacks a nature photographer. Blech! I couldn't even look at the screen.
Anyway, these are all thoughts I had on my way down to Vung Tau to relax on the beach. Thank you to those early explorers who figured out which tributaries on the Mekong Delta led to the coast and that fantastic beach town. Now Vung Tau is definitely not the best beach I've been to. There are no white sands and turquoise waters, Instead there a rocky and shell filled beach and the water was just clear enough to see if a shark was going to attack me. After all it is the South China Sea and there are about 110 different varieties of sharks or so says the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Despite all of it's obvious lack of beauty I had so much fun. The ride down on the hydrofoil was pretty insane . I'd heard way too many horror stories about it but we went to and fro without any problems. I slept and sweat the entire way down because I didn't realise I could poke my head outside. I took advantage of it on the way back though. I now know why dogs stick their heads out the window in the car. The wind rushing through my hair as we sailed down the river was exhilarating.
Upon arriving, like the old pros that we've become, we ignored all the cries of "TAXI" and headed straight for a taxi service that we trusted. I handed the address to the driver and off we went. In comparison to Saigon, Vung Tau was quiet. To be honest Vung Tau seems like it's always quiet. Getting away from the insanity that is Saigon was so necessary. Vung Tau has wide, clean roads that has absolutely NO traffic on it. My favorite joke of the trip was "Oh man we'd better cross the road quickly before that motorbike 5 miles away gets here."
Not only did I love the roads but I loved the beach and the water temperature, I loved the mini crabs running everywhere, I loved the mysterious island not too far off the coast, I loved the Statue of Jesus on top of Mount Nho even if I did have to climb 133 steep, not evenly built stairs to get there, I loved the little song that the ice cream carts played, I loved sitting on the beach chairs while the water rushed over my feet during high tide, I loved watching the bridal photo shoot during sunset, I loved walking on the beach in the rain. I'm a true nature's child and and feel happiest when I'm near water. I'm seriously contemplating moving to Vung Tau because ILA has a training centre there. If it's in a slightly busier area with better tasting food I'd seriously contemplate it.

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