26.06.2010 35 °C
Day 3. We wake up nice and early to head out to see some elephants. Matt has a head the size of a house and a still burning mouth but sucks it up and heads out. We load up the motorbikes and drive for about 10 minutes to where they keep the elephants. Matt and I had booked a ride on one for an hour. As we drove in I saw some elephants on the side of the road. They had the seat things on already and were just standing in the sun. I noticed that they were tied on really short chains. I was a bit wary about going through with this as I don’t like the thought of supporting companies that don’t look after their animals and they made us book before seeing them. They brought our elephant around and the guide gets on. He pulls up to a tower that we can climb and then manage to clamber onto its back. Off we go... The company had provided us with hats to wear so I look like I am on my way to the races and Matt looks like a chain smoking cowboy. We head up to the road and around the corner. It’s bumpy and not all that comfortable but we soon head down a driveway and down a bit of a hill where the elephant stops at will to snack on greenery.
We start heading toward a huge lake where we see a young boy playing in a boat in the shallows of the water. His little sister was trying to get in to play with him and he wasn’t having any of that. He pulled her hair and pushed her out. Clearly it was his boat……. Sibling rivalry exists everywhere…..
We start walking through the water and it’s really nice. The elephant seems to be enjoying it and playing with the water. We get a bit deeper and the water is at the top of the elephant’s legs. The trainer suddenly leapt onto the elephant’s neck so that he is almost standing and the elephant is entirely underwater. We must have looked like we were floating along. Every now and then the elephant would raise its trunk out of the water and take a breath and then it would slip back under. The trainer had to stop him from spraying us with water a few times. I have to admit that if I was an elephant and I had the opportunity to do it, I definitely would.
We stopped for lunch at some time and had another Vietnamese feast before we made it to a national park where they had waterfalls. This (and the elephants) was the part that I was looking forward to the most. Bang showed us a path to take down to the waterfall and went to watch the bikes. We started making our way down these crumbling steps and suddenly I was dive bombed with mozzies. I didn’t have any repellant with me so I had to bail.
I put some on while I waited for the guys to get back up and then we got to head over to the water fall that we could actually swim under. It was probably the most amazing thing that I have ever done. We walked for about 20 minutes to be confronted by an enormous cascade of water falling over a cliff. We continued walking around it and found a small lake that was being fed by a smaller waterfall. There were a few Vietnamese people there swimming around but apart from that we were pretty much alone. We jumped right in and the water was beautiful. I was floating around watching the water gently fall down, in my own little world when I noticed that Matt had disappeared. I climbed onto some rocks on the other side of the lake and realized that I could see directly behind the big waterfall. Matt was behind the heaviest flow of water about 50 meters away. I scrambled over the rocks and through the deep pools and eventually made it just as Matt was leaving. I could have sat there forever. It seemed as if I was in my own world and that everything was in slow motion. Looking up and seeing such huge amount of water come down and still being safe was incredible. I was soon interrupted by some locals who were making their way up a bit further. I left them to it and slowly made my way back to the lake. As I arrived I saw that the locals were already back and I realized that they must have gone through the waterfall. I must say that is insane!! There were rocks everywhere and the water was pretty shallow. I pointed it out to Matt and he immediately wanted to do the same thing……
We made it back to the bikes pretty much on time and were quickly ferried to some bungalows near the river. As soon as I got off the bike we were shown to a room that was adequate except for the face that they had left it completely open and it was full of the largest mozzies that I have ever seen. These things were as big as your hand. No scrap that as big as your head!!! Naturally they decided that I hadn’t been punished enough that day and continued to bite me even as I was putting more repellant on. I asked the receptionist to spray the room and they gave me a big can of industrial spray. I set up the mosquito net and went to town on the place. When we came back after dinner we were confronted with a room full of dead bugs of every size and shape. You could not walk on the floor without it crunching. Luckily I set the net up first or the bed would have been full as well.
This resort had some awesome pet dogs though. They were incredibly friendly and followed you everywhere like you were their best friend. Matt and I went for a walk down to the river (There was a lot of rock hopping involved and these were big rocks) and I was just sitting there admiring the view when one of the dogs popped up beside me and sat there. It was really nice.
Fast forward to the morning and Matt gets up to have a shower only to find that the power mains (with exposed wiring) is located on the wall behind the shower……………
Day 4. We didn’t get to do a whole lot except ride this day. We had a lot of ground to cover and we never seemed to go over 60km… We did stop in at a mushroom farm though and see a huge python snake. It was about 2.5 meters long and apparently enjoys a healthy diet of rabbits and chooks. Rats don’t seem to satisfy it…. Oh and another exciting thing that happened was Matt tried Dragon fruit!!! I took pictures!!
We stopped for lunch after Bang asked us if we like spring rolls. To which we said of course we do. The meal was called ‘Nem’ and we were sat down and has plates of noodles, cucumber, herbs, lettuce, pork, sauces, chives, deep fried rice paper and normal rice paper. We got to make our own fresh spring rolls which were incredible. Every time a plate was looking a bit empty they would immediately refill it and it only cost about 2 dollars each. It was one of the best meals I have had in Asia.
We arrived at the hotel in Kon Tum and are told that the evening is ours. We set out and about in the town only to find nothing. There wasn’t a whole lot there and we made it back to the hotel in time to watch a really bad movie. Yay.
Day 5. We get up nice and early to a cup of Vietnamese coffee and set out on our way. Bang says that before we leave the town there is an old wooden church that we can go and see. It is a beautiful building. Lots of light from huge windows made it feel different from any other church that I have seen. Bang soon points out that there is an orphanage behind and ushers us around the building. We enter and walk into a dorm when they young kids sleep. There are rows and rows of cots and thin grass mats inside (I will never complain about my mattress again). There are a few girls there who look about 8 or 9. Bang takes us upstairs to where all the toddlers are. I think the place is mainly made up of very young children. I was the first to walk through the door and a little boy immediately threw himself at my legs and tried to scramble up them. I didn’t know what to do. I turned around and Matt had about 3 kids trying to do the same to him. I picked the little boy up and he reaches up and touches my hair. I am holding back tears. I put him down as I have about 5 kids crowding me by this stage and this is when I notice a little girl about 11 months just sitting there staring at me. She had the widest eyes and the chubbiest cheeks. I walk over to her and sit next to her. She looks at me and raises her arms. I pick this gorgeous little girl up and I am beyond crying. She can’t take her eyes off me and I walk around bouncing her and chatting away. She somehow gets hold of my finger and doesn’t let go. Even when I put her down she still won’t let go. It is heartbreaking and all I want to do is make sure that everything in her world is ok and that she is well treated and cared for.
I am not an overly huge kid person but it took everything I had not to go back there and take her with me. I left feeling dazed, confused and upset. I couldn’t shake these feelings for days.
After the orphanage we stopped for breakfast of Pho soup complete with ants……. Ewww.
We also went past a minority village and spent some time playing their traditional musical instruments. The man who was playing accompanied by his grandson was about 80 and had the most infectious smile. He seemed more than happy to accommodate us for as long as we wanted.
We stop a few more times which makes Matts plans to swim at another waterfall in the afternoon doomed. I tried to stop Bang from making every stop possible but even with that we were much too late. We did stop at it though and it was beautiful. It was named ‘Scorpion Waterfall’ because the way that the water ran down the rocks looked like a…. you guessed it! A scorpion!!!
We arrive in a little town and head out for dinner where I manage to cut half my toe of with a rock. I am talented!
Day 6. Well this is the day that we arrive in Hoi An. We set out nice and early through the mountains again. We soon come across a pineapple plantation and wander down to have a look at the plants. It is pretty impressive how they farm the steep mountain land here. There was a small creek at the bottom of the hill and we were standing there enjoying the shade when 2 water buffalo and their owners walked down the hill. They were pulling big carts filled with pineapples. As soon as they reached the middle of the creek they both collapsed trying to submerge themselves so that they could cool off. They sat there for 10 minutes or so while their owners wet them on their backs and heads and as suddenly as they collapsed they were up and finishing the job. In that short 10 minutes that we were with them Matt bonded and now wants a pet water buffalo…. I told him after I get my puppy….
Not long after we left the pineapple farm we noticed that Matt was not following us. We went back about 5kms and there he was… with a flat tire. We sit there on the side of the road with huge trucks and buses speeding past us as Bang expertly repairs the tube. Soon we are on our way again. Not too much further down the road while we were going through a small town the chain on Taylors bike slipped off and we had to stop to fix that as well. We were parked outside a café fixing everything when we noticed that slowly we were drawing a crowd. They were all full of smiles and curiosity. The kids were bold and trying to talk to us in Vietnamese. There seemed fascinated with my hair. Bang explained to us that not too many foreigners stop there because there really is nothing there to look at.
Yet again we are on our way. We stop to look at how rice paper is made and soon (only about 4 hours late) we arrive in Hoi An!!!!! Home of the tailors and soon to be creators of my new clothes!!!