We naively went to Vietnam during monsoon season, a fact that became painfully apparent. Never take dry feet for granted. They are a rarity and a luxury.
Everyone on our journey was so selfless. Strangers offered for us to sleep at their house, mechanics fixed our bikes for free, and old men on the side of the road waved us over to try their cup of homemade tea. Gus, my travel bud, said that he thought it was going to be hard to go back to America where everyone is so worried about themselves; I agreed
Food became mere fuel for my body. It was not something meant to enjoy. Speaking of food: Organic is unheard of. It's not important. If you eat, then you succeed.
"Bow nee oh de uhn." That means "how much for this?" in Vietnamese and I must have asked that about 946 times. For food, for gas, for places to sleep. It's a win-lose situation, asking this. On one hand the locals admire that you are trying to speak their language. On the other hand, they think you can speak their language and fire off a few dozen words at you. To this you respond, "doy kom hee-yo," or "I don't understand." I said that a lot.
We rode from coastal city Nha Trang into the mountains in search of a road we should have known we were never going to find. The sun left no visibility, and Gus' headlight quickly followed. At a gas station the employees were watching a program teaching English language. I borrowed a pen and wrote something down as they looked over my shoulder, fascinated. We both used the same pen and paper, but what was created was worlds different.
The following few days we were at least 80 kilometers from a paved road.
We came to a barren four-way intersection where in a Southern U.S. accent we heard, "Hey, are you boys Americans?"
We look to the left and see the first white person we've seen in 400 kilometers. His name was John, he met his wife, Snow, on Facebook, and she happened to be from this village. They were
Wearing my best clothes -- a second-hand, torn polo -- we went to a tent filled with staring eyes. They. Got. Us. Drunk. Everybody was trying to come up and say hello, shake our hand, take our picture, touch our bodies. The women asked us to dance and the men asked us to toast, clink glasses.
I can't stress this enough, but we weren't supposed to be there.
The night of the wedding I unknowingly broke my 8-year vegetarian streak. The dish they made had something in it that I thought it was an egg, so I asked and a new Vietnamese friend said, "Yes, egg." It felt like an egg, but didn't taste like an egg or look like one. So again I asked, "Egg?" And he said, "Yes, egg" while pointing at his eye, which is what he probably thought I was saying.
I ate a cow's eyeball. Ask for that the next time you're at the drive-thru.
We left the house of our "new family" and headed north for Hoi An with our "GPS" -- a crumpled piece of paper, an index finger and countless clueless people. Sometimes I prefer a computer screen ... just sometimes.
Myles Wallingford is a junior at CU majoring in media. You can follow his travel adventures through Southeast Asia every Tuesday in March in the Colorado Daily.