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The Sword in the Stone

vietnam collage 7
Bathing: mud and sun stylie

The 12th of January marks our 18th month away. It started early, our neighbour the cockrel started his cock-a-do-dul-do kareoke at around 3.30, as his had done every ‘morning’ since we arrived in the relaxed beach town on Mui Ne. The sun has had his hat on too since we rode out of Nha Trang, and as we cycled past huge sand dunes to the right and crashing waves to the left, we both breathed in the warm salty air and exchanged knowing looks that this is a place to stay a few days. We quickly fell into the the morning ritual of riding out to our favored local Bahn Me stall for breakie and banter with the locals, followed by a couple of cafe sua’s and then hit the beach. Having finished reading my book, my tanning time has been accompanied by listening to various comedy shows on my ipod. The local ladies selling fruit seemed to find it hilarious as they watched me erupt into fits of (not so silent) laughter every few minutes. I was unaware of my voyeurs as I was under my well loved Herm hat, but Pete joined the ladies laughing over my giggles. I love laughing. There’s nothing quite like a good belly full of laughter. A real belly acher so it actually hurts. When we were riding across the desert in China I had to stop cycling as I was beyond recovery while tuned into some Mitchell & Webb sketches…I was a danger on the highway unable to control myself, nor the bike. So when I lift my head from under my hat and look out at the active kite surfers, I don’t feel lazy in the slightest, my muscles are getting their own work out session.
Other things that have really made me laugh incredibly loudly, and also scream from the top of my lungs, has been our recent visit to Vinpearl Island. Having met a couple of English girls during the intimacy of sharing a mud bath in Nha Trang together, we all decided it would be great to continue our bikini clad bond with a day trip to a water park. Armed with rubber rings and the eagerness of kids we did the rounds. Screams submerged and giggles gurged as we flew down the flumes and bombed into the finishing pools. As the wave machine started I was delighted to see that all bar a few splasher-abouters were adults, the laughs were deeper and the screams saucier, and it seemed to me that water with a dash of fear go a long way to helping us act our shoe size and not our age. I love it!

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Getting nitty gritty with it

My latest bout of grinning from ear to ear has been meeting Hung, my knight in shining armour, a bike mechanic in Saigon. He has managed where so many others have failed. If you are sitting comfortably I shall begin. Once upon a time, about 7,000 kilometres ago, astride her trusty stead a fair maid went. Over mountain and through desert, across plains, under branch and bow they rode together, but loyal and sturdy as her stead was, time and great distance had lamed the beast. From hamlet to hamlet they went in search of a great master that might cure the ailing creature, but none could be found. Many tried, but all failed. So it was with an air of resignation that the fair maid told her predicament to the youthful Master Hung. Young as he was, wisdom lay in those eyes of his and with hands on hips he sank into a depth of thought for a long while. After the sun had stretched it’s fingers to the furthest fields Master Hung proclaimed he knew how to heal her stead, and that she should return to him once the crescent moon had risen and fallen and the birds had greeted the new dew of the day. And so, the fair maid returned to Hung, and like Excalibur was to Arthur in his palm, he did indeed have the magic touch. The fair maids stead was as revived and fresh as the morn they had set out together, all those many moons ago. Ere any of you should befall a similar fate with your own trusty stead, I hope this tale leads you to the door of young Master Hung. My humble hero in Ho Chi Minh.

Me and Master Hung, with a digital ‘tattered scroll’ to find him should you need to

View larger map
If you find yourself in Saigon with a bike that needs a little tlc, go and see Hung –
Le hoang Probike co. ltd 283/ 62-64
(this in alley on left side from number 283)
Cach Mang Thang 8 Str Ward 12
Dist 10 HCM Vietnam


7 Responses to “The Sword in the Stone”

  1. Glad your bike is fixed. Lucky you in the sunshine it’s very cold here. Xxx


    Posted by Marian/Mum | January 19, 2013, 8:09 am
  2. Hey Mary,
    Those photos make me very jealous – it’s bloody freezing here and it’s been snowing for hours.
    Very excited about coming out to meet you in March. Pete has already had a few ideas about how he might entertain his little sister in Bangkok.
    Elle x x


    Posted by Elle | January 20, 2013, 5:42 pm
  3. I laughed with you Mary – just reading your words. Can only fantasise about sun soaked beaches as the temperature hovers around 0 degrees here. Would love to be coming to meet you in March with the rest of the gang – next time maybe. Take care and enjoy YELG xxx


    Posted by Marguerite | January 20, 2013, 11:10 pm
  4. Dearest Mouse … you always know how to live the fairy tale! Love you … Mum XXX


    Posted by Mum - Jen | January 21, 2013, 9:43 am
  5. Ah, that’s lovely. I’m smiling as I’m imagining the sound of you giggling. I miss the sound of your laugh, especially those times when you/we can’t stop laughing even when it’s not really funny anymore, and it hurts. And you might wee a little bit. But you can’t stop.

    Wish I was there – so envious! It’s not that cold or snowing in St Ives tho. I’ve already done that in Nida.

    Pete, you look like a proper scary swamp monster. I like it.

    My Dutch friend refers to her bike as her ‘steel pony’. I used to imagine my bike was a pony. It was rubbish at jumps, tho.

    Back to PhD work. *sigh*

    All the love, Bean Xx


    Posted by Bean | January 21, 2013, 7:12 pm
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    Posted by Jeanice | July 30, 2014, 2:02 pm
  7. Hi Mary and Pete,
    Seems like years since we met in Crete was it? Or Turkey? Mary you gave me your book The 1000 Autumns of Jacob de Groot which I still have somewhere. Loved it and actually read it twice. Your trip seems a real hoot!


    Posted by meemee phipps | June 1, 2015, 11:21 am

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