The sun is shining hotly and the road continues to flood nearly every day because of the rain. It feels like time is escaping from me and just flying, sneaking by me when I’m not paying attention.
Recently, I took part in my first real roadtrip. The day actually started with me taking my drivers license exam. I was there at 7 a.m. with two friends to help me through the process. Mostly it was just waiting, and waiting, as hundreds of people took the exam. Mine was an interesting experience, and I was home around 11. Then the trip began: Duc and Sharla on Duc’s bike, and me and Tyler on my bike.
We started out towards Tri Ton, a small town in the province of An Giang. Duc had said something about driving up a mountain there, and we were excited about it. However, after driving for a long time and having just reached the town limit of Tri Ton, the rain started to come down in buckets. We all stopped at a small café and drank sugarcane juice and ate shrimp chips and waited. And waited. The rain poured down and thunder was crashing all around. I had one raincoat and everyone else bought glorified trash bags that tear easily. When the rain was more of a mist we took off again. It was cold driving like that, with the rain sneaking in around the edges of my poncho. Finally there was no more rain and we drove along a narrow road with Khmer temples at some points. There were mountains jutting out of the flat delta on our left and a broad expanse of perfectly flat rice paddies on our right.
Tyler and Sharla had digital cameras and were trying to capture some of the beauty of it all.
We finally came to the mountain, Nui Cam, and started up the steepest road I’ve ever driven in Vietnam. The road was wet but I was downshifting and doing okay. But then there was a gate. We stopped and the people there told Duc that we couldn’t go all the way up the mountain, we had to pay 30,000 each and they would take us up. So then we turned around and went back down. Nui Cam is a touristy town, and but on this particular day it seemed to be nearly deserted. We found an empty restaurant and ate noodles and everyone laughed at my wet and wrinkled feet. After eating we lounged around in hammocks and talked about the roof of the place collapsing on us. Chuckling and a little giddy with exhaustion.
Then back to the motorbikes and off for Long Xuyen again. The road we traveled was narrow, but it was cool because of the rain. We drove slower on the way back. But as we approached Long Xuyen, I was conscious of a growing pain. When we finally arrived back at the guesthouse, I could hardly walk because of the pain. I’m definitely not used to sitting on motorbikes for extended periods of time. And because I had been wearing a helmet for so long, my hair wasn’t curly or puffy, but stuck close to my head. More roadtrips await.