(Vüng Táu)

Larger imageIf your idea of a great holiday is sleeping in, then don't bother to travel with me. Even a day at the beach means leaving the hotel at 0800 to make our way down to the dockside to get the hydrofoil to Vüng Táu. A pleasant hour and a half trip down the Mekong river. When you disembark at Vüng Táu, there is the usual mad throng of taxi and bike drivers hustling you for business.

This time however, as we didn't know the island, we did avow ourselves of the bike service. For $2 an hour, they will pedal you wherever you want to go. I did inquire about taking me to Pittsburgh, but I guess the vague expressions gave their reply. You could probably negotiate a lower fee if you are into bartering, but at this low rate, why bother ?

Larger imageOur bikers did offer to show us the shops and a temple as we were passing them, but the only thing on our minds was to find the beach and a restaurant, although we did stop at this statue to take some photos.

Eventually we reached a restaurant overlooking the beach. Just what we wanted. We sat next to a table of locals who were presumably day off and out having a meal and enjoying themselves. I did notice the bottle of vodka on the their table.

A cold beer would have gone down well except for the fact that I ordered the local brew, Saigon. Umm... won't make that mistake again. One of the locals on the next table offered me a shot of vodka, but I declined, indicating to him that if I would probably fall over if I accepted. A young girl asked if she could take a photo of Sascha and seem to really enjoy the participation.

We debated whether to choose from their large inexpensive menu or try another restaurant across the way. Another mistake. The other restaurant was empty and we soon appreciated why. Not nearly enough choice. We moved back to the first restaurant; the fact that it was packed with locals told its own story.

Larger imageWe sat next to our friends again and I ordered a bottle of wine. This time I offered the locals a glass of wine. One of them drank it down in one go despite my desperate calls for him to sip it slowly and enjoy. This seem to spur on their friendship and a shot of vodka was offered again and this time I couldn't refuse. All in the cause of uniting nations of course.

Young children were offered, although I wasn't quite sure what I was meant to do with the youngsters. Take more photos I suppose, but children are Sascha's department (Sascha is a pediatrician). More locals joined us, also to have their photos taken and to offer more shots. In the interest of cementing this new friendship, I couldn't refuse.

You really want to see a larger image?Isn't it strange? A language barrier and a big generation gap, but we can still communicate with each other and all have a good time.

Jodie was getting a bit concerned with regards to my ability to continue, but all was well as we made our way to the beach and the sun loungers.

We were finally relaxing until until our friends came out with a volleyball. Everyone turned out to watch this funny old man show them how great the English were at ball games. Now, we try and think we are fit. You try playing in that heat and in the sand. The great western stud ended up eyebrows in the sand on too many occasions. This is one time I couldn't lay the blame my female partner! Didn't take too long for this old man to retire. Hopefully, Sascha will have a photo of me hitting the dirt.

Eventually we made our way back via a taxi to catch the hydrofoil for the relaxing journey up the Mekong to Ho Chi Minh City.

Larger imageSwimming in the South China Sea.

Larger imageOne of the many friends we made.

Larger image And who looks the worse for wear here then? The old man?