Friday, December 5, 2008

Cat Ba Day 2: The Cave

While riding around the island on our rented motorbike, Huyen and I saw this sign along the side of a road:

We decided to take a look and pulled onto a skinny path. Literally three seconds after parking our bike this man pulled up behind us on his own bike:

The man told us he was the tour guide for the cave and told us it would cost 15,000 VND each to see the cave. At first I was skeptical that this guy was just ripping us off but soon realized he was legit. We followed him to the entrance of a cave where there was a padlocked door built into the stone. The man pulled out a key and opened the door.

We followed the tour guide into the darkness where he searched and found two flashlights. He handed Huyen a light and kept one for himself. He then began to walk through the cave which was an intricate three story building built by the Chinese during the American-Vietnamese War.

It turns out the building was a secret hospital to treat wounded Vietnamese soldiers. The only thing to compare the cave system to would be the Cu Chi tunnels in the south (you can search my blog for my entry about those). However, this place was very different since it was a legitimate building built inside a mountain and not underground.

Huyen and I hadn't been expected to see what we saw but that's always the best part of just jumping on/in a bike/car/etc. and exploring a city/island/etc. without an itinerary.

The Boys Are Back In Town

(PICTURE: Hien, the best damn Xe Om in HCMC).

On Wednesday afternoon Hien picked me up at the airport...just like she did nearly 9 months ago on March 15th. The only difference between now and then is that I can speak about twenty words of Vietnamese AND I can drive a motorbike. I put the second difference immediately to use and drove Hien, on her motorbike, to the Language Corps office.

(PICTURE: Three of the loveliest ladies in HCMC.)

When we got to the office, waiting there was Ryan...juts like he was nearly nine months ago. Ryan happens to also be in town prior to his vacation to Cambodia and Laos. In case you haven't figured it out, that is why the title of this post is "The Boys Are Back In Town."...although one could argue we're now men. Almost a year in 'Nam can do that to you.

Yesterday, we went fishing with Hien, Linh a large group of recent Language Corps graduates who are living and teaching in Saigon. A few of the teachers are ahoyhanoi fans including Genessa, who I became email friends with back in July prior to her coming to Vietnam. One thing Genessa didn't tell me about herself over email though is that she makes a hell of a brownie. Genessa claims she baked the brownies for her friend Katy's (spelling?) birthday but I think we all know she really baked them in honor of her favorite blogger coming south.
(PICTURE: Genessa, master brownie maker.)

For those of you who are curious, we caught exactly ZERO fish. Not even a tug.

(PICTURE: Ryan showing the locals how to fish.)