After Mai's house, everyone went back to Hanoi except three of us. The three of us were about to head on what would turn out to be the most scenic, adventurous trip I've taken in the last year. Let me properly introduce you to my two travel mates:
(PICTURE: Long holding the photocopied map we used)
This is Long. Long is a "Viet Kieu" which means he's a Vietnamese person who has moved to another country. Long's family were boat people after the war in Vietnam. They escaped Vietnam, along with three hundred other people, on a boat. Technically Long was born in Singapore on the way to Australia where his family emmigrated to. Because Long can speak conversational Vietnamese he became the default guide on our trip. Unfortunately for Long, this would bite him in the butt about 24 hours after this picture was taken. That post will be in two days and titled "My scariest experience in Vietnam." Stay tuned.
This is Nicky. Nicky is always smiling. Nicky is also always late. Sometimes he's three hours late. Sometimes he's five minutes late. Regardless, he's just always late. Nicky and I used to teach together at Language Link. However, a few months ago he switched to the British Council, considered the best/most expensive school in Hanoi. For the record, Nicky's British.
And then there was me...who will look fat in all the pictures from this trip because I was wearing many many layers...and may have put on a few pounds recently.
If you were writing jokes about what happened to us on this trip you would start by saying, "An American, an Australian and a British guy went on a motorbike trip using a photocopied map that was over ten years old..."
The three of us headed to the only destination we knew we were going to -- Mai Chau. I was in Mai Chau a few months ago with my cousin Justin but didn't mind going back because it was so beautiful. Here's some pictures I took in Mai Chau:
(A cow on the mountain near Mai Chau)
(PICTURE: The stilt house we stayed in was to the left of the one in the background. You ahoyhanoi gurus may recognize this one as the one Justin and I stayed in a few moths ago.)
(PICTURE: Nicky and I on a rice paddy.)
(PICTURE: More rice paddies.)
At night while we were walking around Mai Chau we met a really nice Vietnamese guy who spoke perfect English and coincidentally worked with Nicky's girlfriend.
(PICTURE: I took this picture because the man said, "You have no proof you met me if you die on your motobike trip because you took my advice." I said, "I"ll take a picture so we have proof.")
This man told us that if we wanted to experience the "real Vietnam" and not the tourist side like Mai Chau, we should go along a dirt path along the nearby river. He told us that the path was dangerous but that we'd see tons of ethnic tribes. He gave us directions and we all agreed to get up early the next morning and venture along the path...which wasn't on our map...and would lead us to my scariest experience in Vietnam!