19 October

I woke up around 7. Knowing that all five of my dormmates had planned to take the Four Island tour on this day, and three of them (the Californian and the two men who had tried to woo her the previous night) planned to take the 8:30 am Funky Monkey tour, I decided to keep the shower available to them. Instead, I stayed in my bed and surfed the internet. I should have taken the shower.

It was after 8:30 and still nobody had gotten up. EThe receptionist came into the room and forced the three hungover backpackers to get up and go on the tour. The fair-skinned Brit asked if they could skip it. The receptionist, in a typical Vietnamese response, said ‘no, you have to go’.

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10 October

There are only two piers on Ko Phangan, so I was not about to repeat my adventure on Ko Samui. I was scheduled to depart from the Thong Sala pier on the high speed lomprayah ferry. The route of the ferry would take passengers to Ko Tao and then to the mainland near Chumporn. From Chumporn, buses would take passengers to Hua Hin and Bangkok. I was making the full journey to Bangkok.

The king looks over the port at Thong Sala.

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4 October through 8pm

Shuttle > Bus > Shuttle > Taxi > Airplane > Rail > Foot. That was the plan that would take me from the Mekong Delta to my hotel in Thailand’s capital city. And, for the most part, I stuck to it.

On Friday night, I asked the concierge in the hotel to schedule a shuttle and bus ticket for me back to Saigon. I had told him I preferred at 9am departure, but what he managed was a ticket on the 7am bus to Ho Chi Minh City. That meant I had to be ready for the shuttle at 6am. Once again, I was taking the marvelous Futabus. While Futabus is not the cheapest, it is not substantially more expensive either (you can find Vietnamese intercity bus schedules and prices on vexere.com), and it seems to be the locals’ go-to bus for intercity service. Neither the concierge nor Binh’s family in Ca Mau ever asked me whether I wanted a cheaper carrier. They knew to get me Futabus, due to its reliability and shuttle service.

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Finding Lolita in Can Tho

2 October

On Wednesday night, Binh had reserved me a morning ticket on Futabus (Phuong Trang) to Can Tho. Prepared for another bus ride, this one only 3 hours, I woke up early and ate breakfast with the family. Next door, the neighbors were preparing to host a housewarming party. A catering company was arranging the tables and Binh’s mother, noticing that there was not enough room for all the tables on the neighbor’s porch, allowed them to pour over onto her property.

The neighbors had a large family. The younger members of the family had visited the night before to try to make conversation with the strange-speaking white man, but mostly ended up staring and giggling. This morning, the older female asked me a few questions, the common ones you hear when first meeting a Vietnamese person: Where are you from? How old are you? The only one who didn’t take interest in me was the young girl, who mostly spoke to Binh. I kind of hope something happens there.

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30 September

I think I’m a hypochondriac. I always think something is wrong with me. (Okay, it’s not really hypochondria; it’s more of a health-oriented occasional anxiety.)  That’s why I keep a heart-rate monitor app on my phone. On Monday, my heart rate hovered over 100 for the entirety of the day, even before I threw up at Cu Chi. And the rate had not subsided by the time I retired to the bed, though the late night beer probably did not help matters.

When I awoke on Tuesday, though, my heart rate had fallen into the lower 90’s, still high but a sign I was recovering. My appetite, though not back in full, allowed me to eat the rice pudding breakfast that Quan’s mother offered me. I informed Quan that I felt healthy enough to travel and thanked him for his hospitality. Before departing, I gave him a souvenir: a snow-globe of the battle of Gettysburg. Continue Reading