I took a day trip to Cham Islands yesterday. Interestingly, I was the only western participant. Everyone else was Vietnamese. I sat next to three different people who all spoke English at different levels.
Person 1. 12 year old school girl that spoke very good English. She told me all about her family, her cousin, and her creepy but lovable little brother that she made faces at or teased all the way. She translated for me what the tour guide would say since he would not say anything in English at all. She was fun to talk to and wanted to see pictures of my daughter. The red hair that my daughter had then really got her. We also talked about her life at 12 years old in school and what she had fun at, what she did, and her friends. Very enlightening and a lot of fun and she spoke English very well.
Person 2. Mid 20s I would say traveling with her Mom and Dad. I studied them a bit and the Mom seemed very friendly but did not speak English. The dad was very quiet. The woman was quite good at English and told me she lived and worked in Saigon. I think they were in Da Nang to “mend fences” . The daughter seemed like a rebellious sort to me and the Mom I think wanted to have time to spend with her. Just my take though. Its always interesting to study people and try to figure out with the non-verbal cues what they are doing together. She was pretty friendly and I have to say simply beautiful.
Person 3. Early 20s because I asked her. She was finishing university or had and we walked all over Cham Island to different villages, to the market, and she told me a lot about why she was there. She was from north of Hanoi so we discussed places in Hanoi we had both been like Hoan Kiem Lake and then I showed her the pictures of West Lake. She was rather amazed that there was a lake that big in Hanoi. She was with her brother and sister-in-law and I think she was a bit intimidated by them. Her entire mood changed in the afternoon so I think her brother probably talked with her about going off walking with some strange American. We did become friends on facebook which is a standard thing here.
Then there was the tour itself. It was with the same tour company that did my excellent tour to Golden Bridge and two Pagodas. This time the tour guide did absolutely nothing for either the Vietnamese or me visiting. He would not talk in English and someone there that did speak English had to translate for me. We were left to our own devices for lunch and what to do on the island. We were not told the sequence of events for leaving or doing activities. Just a poor tour in some regards but when you are on Cham Island its okay I guess.
Anyways, here is the link to the photographs I took of the island. I thought it was simply beautiful there and very peaceful. One of the guys in the village said I should remain behind and rest and party there. You can see Person 3 in a few of the pictures. Very happy young Vietnamese woman!
Going Forward to the last week or so…
Interesting that I have about 1.5 weeks left here and really no more tours to go on. I may take a Grab up to Marble Mountains next week. I could see the entire place in a few hours of walking and some climbing up stairs. Its really the last place away from Da Nang to see for me.
After booking travel for the first six months of 2019, I found out I have to go back to Saigon in June for a bunch of reasons. I will book a round trip ticket back in June and travel to Can Tho for a week or so to visit some friends there. I may go somewhere else in southern Vietnam as well. That will leave me 5 months remaining or so in 2019 and I will still have three months of my initial retirement visa in Cambodia left.
The next thing is the flight back to Saigon on 15 September and then leaving Vietnam on 16 September. I’ve been here very close to six months so I am going to really miss the people, the friends, and the places I’ve been. I guess I have friends scattered here north to south.
Cambodia in 4 months should be lots of fun since I am still going very slowly and spending time in 4 different places 30 days at a time. My goal is not to just see the stuff and count the country but to live there, experience it, spend day by day there. When I leave in January for Singapore and that part of the travels, I will not be returning “home” to Phnom Penh until June. At that point I am going to see how early I can renew my retirement visa there and plan the remaining months out. My feeling is that India has been waiting patiently and I think China is lurking somewhere.