01/08/10: Da Lat, Vietnam
This morning, we took the lovely six-hour bus ride from Saigon to Da Lat. And I’m not being sarcastic, the scenery was actually quite nice – at least the bits that I saw of it for the half hour that I spent awake. (Is she exaggerating? No, I’m not. Ok, maybe a little. But just a tiny bit.)
We made a stop for lunch around noon, which gave me the chance to marvel yet again at Southeast Asian societies’ lack of understanding of:
- Standing in line
- Personal space
Every single time I’ve gone to the restroom, I’m at a complete loss as to what the heck is going on – like, why is there no single file line and how did eight people just walk in front of me when I’ve been waiting here for the last five minutes? I think how it works here is that you just stand in front of a toilet stall, and whenever that person gets out, then you get to go in. But if that is how it’s supposed to be, then this system is preposterous! It’s not even a system; it’s a toilet lottery. Really, how is this fair at all? You have no clue what the person in your chosen stall ate for lunch that day – you could be waiting forever! And it’s not just at the restrooms – it’s at the bus station, the post office. No one waits in line, everyone just elbows their way to the front. The only place where you see people waiting in line correctly is at tourist sites – because that’s where all the foreigners are. For example, today I was waiting in line to wash my hands (I use the term “waiting in line” loosely because 1: I was the only person waiting and 2: we’ve already established that there are no such things as lines here) when a little old lady just cut in front of me and stuck her hands in the sink! A little old lady! She was less than five feet tall!
I’m sorry, I just had to get that out.
We arrived in Da Lat around 3:30, checked into our hotel and went off to try and accomplish our one errand of the day: to find the original Da Lat Easy Riders and book a tour with them. We escaped the clutches of the two copycat “Easy Riders” that were lying in wait for us on the front stoop of our hotel and headed off to the Easy Riders Cafe, where we met Mui. Mui promised to hunt down another Easy Rider for our tour, which we booked for the next day.
Now, before we continue with the rest of this post, some background information is necessary, so just bear with me. Back when we were trekking in Nepal, we met a really cool couple, Marija and Chris. They were the ones who convinced us to make the extra trip up to Ghyeru, which ended up being one of the highlights of the trek and provided us with some of the best views of the Himalayas that we got to see. Since we were trekking on similar schedules, we saw them every day for a few days, and we never bothered to exchange contact info because, well, we’d be seeing each other the next day anyway. Long story short, of course we lost track of them and have been hitting ourselves over the head (metaphorically) ever since then for not getting their contact info. We couldn’t even look them up on facebook because we didn’t even know their last names. Last relevant piece of info: Marija and Chris were the first people to tell us about Easy Riders, and they even gave us the names of their guides (Quan and Duc), they loved them so much.
Fast forward back to today. So having booked our tour with Mui, we were headed back to our hotel when we passed a corner where three Easy Riders were hanging out. We stopped to chat with them when Kevin, being the genius that he is, suddenly thought to ask, “Hey – do any of you guys know Mr. Quan or Mr. Duc?”
The guy in the middle replied, “I’m Duc!”
Now let’s just pause for a minute to consider the implausibility of this situation. There are 85 Easy Riders in Da Lat. There were three of them standing on this corner. And one of them was Duc! Are you not amazed? Because I am.
We asked him if he remembered Marija and Chris, and he pulled out his thick book of testimonials. Lo and behold, after a few minutes of searching, there they were! A month and a half later, we finally learned their last names and how to spell Marija (never would have guessed). We finally found her on facebook, and luckily, the picture she had posted was one of her and Chris (one that we took!) in Nepal, so we knew it was the right Marija. The moral of this story: even when your own stupidity gets in the way, sometimes things still turn out ok. Don’t you just love a happy ending?
Picture of the Day: Um, we didn’t take any good pictures today, but here’s one from Cambodia.