I’m back in Long Xuyen for a few more days to give an exam. It’s a weird time. Martha is packing to leave and so is Jack. Jack’s been dousing me with stuff that he no longer needs, the coolest so far being cushy, comfortable furniture that was in his room. At this point we all have to move out of our rooms because they are taking over the guest house for the purpose of grading the university entrance exams. So we all have to pack up what we need and move to the old guest house.

The trip back here was in an old Mercedes van. And I never thought I’d say this, but riding in a Mercedes was not comfortable at all. Most of the Kim Huong bus company’s fleet is the new Ford Transit vans, but they still have some old Mercedes around which they occasionally use. I happened to get a ride in one. The bus company has a deal with a huge industrial restaurant on the side of the road. This place is approximately halfway between Long Xuyen and Ho Chi Minh City. After we stopped here for a bite to eat and a chance to stretch legs, we continued. After the stop the quality of the road degrades. And we went bouncing along in this old and beat up Mercedes. I kept thinking that a wheel or axle was going to fall off as we hit some huge bumps. I was sitting next to a man originally from Long Xuyen who now made his home in Maryland, and he chuckled nearly maniacally as we bounced along the rough road.

Then the bus that left an hour after we did (it was a new Ford Transit) passed us and our driver really balled the jack and hit the bumps with more speed and I don’t know how that old Mercedes’ suspension handled it all without falling apart. Previously I’d been on a ride and the older women in the rear of the bus would make soft clucking sounds of criticism when we hit a bump too hard, but I think most people on last night’s bus were to scared to make any sound–not that it would have been heard over the roaring and bouncing and shaking of the vehicle. Finally we made the soft left turn which meant we were nearly at the ferry, and the ferry means a smooth, short ride the remainder of the kilometers back to Long Xuyen. Jack met me at the bus station and we went back to my room and listened to Rusted Root and the Traveling Wilburys before going to bed.


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