Wednesday 27th December
Everywhere I went - every main street, every side street, every alleyway - there was food everywhere. I'd tried a dish or two the previous day. The name of one I instantly forgot, and when it arrived it was hard to work out what it was. It was as chewy as leather, but it was fried and did have some flavour - though what that was I just do not know. The "shrimps" (which in UK parlance would translate to a miniscule shellfish) were more akin to small lobsters. Pops would have loved them.
It was absolutely sweltering. The sweat was running down my back and into my shorts. I decided to head back to the War Remnants museum. It was pennies to get in, and I wanted to see the rest of the photos in the Requiem room - I’d been saturated with images/info the day before. It was nice just to sit down in the shade to be honest. The return visit was no less poignant than the first, and I spent over and hour looking at the rest of the war photographer’s images.
Once I'd reviewed just about every image in this room I headed back to the ground floor. There was a a fascinating (albeit still very much a propaganda) video on loop telling all about the number of GIs going AWOL and starting anti war movements during the war. Figures quoted included an incredible 17% AWOL rate.
Whilst I was at the museum, Kelly sent a message saying he and Lisa were also there. We’d not arranged to meet up, but as they were also on site we met up for a quick beer at the café. It was my final day, and Kelly asked me if I would I come back to Vietnam? It was an interesting question, and one I could not really answer at the time. My answer now is, probably - but not to repeat anything I’d already done. There is a famous hike in a place called Sapa that I'd like to do. I'd certainly go off the beaten track more - Combine it with a trip to Cambodia, maybe.… but I guess it would really morph into a trip somewhere else, like just Cambodia or maybe even Laos.
The day passed all too quickly. Before I knew it, I had to go back to the apartment to have a quick shower, ready for the water puppet theatre. One thing I instantly noticed in the theatre was that the seats were offset, so that my seat, number nine, looked between seats eight and nine in front. This must have been great for the (generally quite small) locals, who would then have less chance of their view being totally obscured by a huge tourist.
The show was short (as I knew beforehand), and only lasted 45 minutes. It was formed of a series of small "sketches". The voices (and there weren't many) were in Vietnamese, but it was generally quite easy to work out/guess what was going on. It was the puppetry that people were mainly there to see though, and that was genuinely fascinating. One of the musicians (a lady) was playing a genuinely intriguing instrument. It was flat and horizontal, like a piano might be, but was stringed, with some kind of knobs/dials. It made a very "oriental" sound, and her fingers flew over it. It was very interesting in itself to watch.
Click to watch - Water puppets
Click to watch - Water puppets
Click to watch - I have no idea what this instrument is!
Once I'd eventually gone through passport control and security, I grabbed a final beer. It was at this point that I discovered my one and only mosquito bite. I had no idea when the blighter had got me. It could have been a lot worse. As it was, it did not keep me awake on the flight. A beer (or two) helped me sleep for most of the 14 hour flight. Nice way to end an adventure.