This past Saturday and Sunday was the most motorbike riding I’ve ever done here. It all began with Tyler and Sharla’s boss, Justin coming for a visit. He wanted to visit the coastal towns of Rach Gia and Ha Tien, both on the Gulf of Thailand. I was free and offered my motorbike and driving services, and it was set. Justin went ahead of us all to Rach Gia on Friday afternoon and Tyler, Sharla and I were going to follow on Saturday morning and meet him there.
Saturday morning we were all up and out by 7:30 to get some coffee to help wake up for the trip. Then we hit the road for the 70-80 km to Rach Gia. It was nice driving in the morning before it got too dreadfully hot. Once again I was wearing a long sleeved shirt for sun protection. The trip was nice and not very exciting (i.e. there were no close calls on the highway). We arrived at Justin’s hotel around 10:00 and sat around waiting for him to return, all the while chatting with the hotel manager.
When Justin came back we decided to drive around the city for awhile before heading out to Ha Tien up near the border. So our strange caravan headed out. But Justin and I looked back and Tyler wasn’t there. So I turned around and found Tyler examining a broken clutch cable. Actually, it seemed like the best place in the world to have something like that happen. We pushed the bike around the corner and there was a shop that had it repaired in about 10 minutes.
Our little drive around Rach Gia wasn’t that exciting, but we found a place to eat some lunch and turned the bikes around and headed to Ha Tien.
From Rach Gia to Ha Tien is about 90 km, and this started to wear us all down. We stopped once to lie in hammocks and sip on lemon juice for a good 20 minutes to let our butts have some recovery time.
Finally we got to Ha Tien and found a clean and cheap hotel and rested and then went exploring for some dinner and ice cream before heading back to bed.
The next morning we checked out and headed out to the Cambodian border, just to see it. Most people can’t legally cross it, but we went and had a look before headed to a beach area to get some lunch. We sat in our chairs on the beach and relaxed and chatted before eventually ordering some food. And then about 12:30 or 1:00, possibly the hottest part of the day, we decided to get back to Long Xuyen. It was, after all, a Sunday and Tyler and Sharla and I had English Speaking Club at 6:30.
And thus the trip back began. We knew that the trip by bus took 2.5-3 hours, and we also knew that it would be longer and more uncomfortable on the motorbikes. So, we figured, the earlier the better. We had our first rest about 35 km outside of Ha Tien, near the border with An Giang province. However, while we were lying in hammocks, the sky turned darker and darker and we heard thunder in the distance. We decided to get out of there quickly and try to outrun the storm. The turn was made and we were back in An Giang and headed away from the rain. The road here was straight, smooth, and there wasn’t a lot of traffic, so this was the fastest I drove during the whole trip (of course, when compared to America standards isn’t very fast at all).
We past the mountains of Tri Ton, quickly filled up with gas, and kept moving. The sky was still dark and threatening. Eventually we found yet another hammock resting area, talked about where we would have dinner at home, and then drove again.
There was a spot of slightly heavier rain which soaked the front of my shirt and got me cold, and then a toll booth, and then the junction meaning only about 15 km back to home… And then the rain hit hard. We had to stop and take shelter. I put on my dirty, long-sleeved shirt from the day before to keep warm. We started again, trying to make it back, and then the rain hit heavy again. And this whole process was repeated one more time.
Finally the drizzle was light enough for us to make it home in our soaked clothes. I headed right for a warm shower and shoes to keep my feet dry, and we were off the English Speaking Club. Recently we’ve been trying a new idea with the club, that is, let the students take charge and have minimal interference. This lets the students choose topics that interest them most, and hence leads to a more energized evening.
After E.S.C., we had a quick dinner with Justin and a short time of entertainment on the T.V. before nearly literally collapsing into bed.