An Ill-conceived Plan - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 3, 2016

An Ill-conceived Plan

An Ill-Conceived Plan

December 3, 2016

Rest Day - Watching the weather and enjoying our luxury room overlooking the ocean.

Our room was luxurious (for us). It had floor-ceiling windows facing the ocean on the third floor and our own balcony. It was high-class living and we deserved it. Never mind the water in the shower which never got hot.

We loved this room except for no hot water.
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The view from our luxurious hotel room.
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After a walk on the trash-strewn beach we rode our unloaded bikes downtown to find some lunch and to the market to buy the usual fruit.. The downtown area was tiny but we found a banh mi maker, a man this time, right across from the school. A funeral was being performed next to the market with it’s unusual music on traditional instruments.

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I have the feeling this was a horrible voyage for someone.
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This is the little car they place the casket to be carried to the cemetery. There is no engine. Men push and pull it.
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Because the banh mi maker’s shop was right across from the school it was full of kids on break and our presence caused the usual excitement. Quite a few times on our trip I have seriously wondered if a foreigner has ever set foot there. I like these feelings because they usually mean a nice interaction if we put out the effort.

While we waited for our banh mi’s to be made the school bell rang and the group of boys eventually ambled across the street. It was as if they had internal clocks which allowed them to start across the street at the precise time so they entered the classroom not a second too late.

There were also two girls who stayed and were discussing something and then giggling. Then, they each came over to us and started taking selfies with us. The one girl couldn’t reveal her face next to mine and kept her hands covering it. Goofy girls. We wondered why they got to be late and figured they had figured out how to flirt with their teacher and get away with anything.

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The banh mi maker was a nice guy. His friend (son?) had a translation app for his phone and also using mine we communicated the basic stuff. They were curious about where we had cycled from, where we were from, stuff like that.

This is real traveling for me. I love the interaction, as simple as it may be. People are curious and want just a few answers. If you give them the answers and act sincere and interested in them eventually there is a calm that comes over them. They are satisfied but they are also honored that we have come to their country to travel in such a hard way. We have made the effort and I think it makes them feel good.

We ate our banh mi and recorded some of the funeral music and then rode back towards our hotel. I wanted to take photos of all the blue fishing boats that packed the little harbor. Andrea went back to the room and I photographed and had another interaction with a young boy who knew some English. He was quite shy but urged on by the neighbors I watched his self-esteem rise as well as maybe even his status in the village.

I wonder why nearly all the boats in Vietnam are blue.
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Then we lounged around in luxury until dinner time. We had had such a delicious dinner the night before in the hotel restaurant that the decision had already been made. I doubt there was another place in town anyway!

We walked over and again, no one was there except us and at least 350 empty chairs and dozens of tables. Again, two young guys; one the cook and one the waiter. Again a rather dirty, stained and torn tablecloth was swung on top of the table. This time it took him three tries to find one that wasn’t too badly torn but they all were rather gross.

The hotel's enormous restaurant. Andrea is sitting way over there.
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Last night we had had a squid hot pot - a boiling pot at our table - which was excellent. It was much more expensive than our normal dinners but we really pulled out all the stops at this place! It had cost us.$7.50 for the hotpot and another $1.00 for a plate of greens and garlic. A bottle of water and some rice and we were approaching $10.00!! Exorbitant for food especially since our room was only $15!

We weren’t going to spend so much this time around but since the squid had been so fresh and delicious we decided to get a different squid dish - lightly battered and fried. When the huge platter came we couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The squid were fabulous, done to perfection. I think they were the most delicious squid I’ve ever eaten!

The cook performed his magic in minutes and then went back to play with his phone next to the waiter. He was like a gourmet cook and thought nothing of it apparently. But maybe we exclaimed too much - our smiles too wide. It could have been then when the boys hatched their plan.

We figured out exactly what we owed and had the money ready when the bill came. To our surprise it was about 50% more than we owed. We complained via our translation app. We showed him the prices on the menu. He fumbled and eventually got out something on his translation app which amounted to “market price”. But the prices were right there on the menu. I told him he can’t jack the price up after the fact especially when the price is clearly stated. It wasn’t a lot of money but we both knew that they were simply trying to get a few extra bucks to go have a beer or two once we left.

The waiter adjusting the bill. He already looks guilty.
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But they didn’t know who they were dealing with. We had exact change and we stood our ground. This sort of thing is laughable when it isn’t thought out well. There have been other instances of similar rip offs in Vietnam but nothing much. Mostly they are sad. Is it poverty of spirit or just poverty, I’ve asked myself many times. No matter what we are not going to encourage anyone to be dishonest by giving in to their demands.

lovebruce

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