Today, so far, is pretty good. I woke up at 8am, got on my battered bike and drove around beautiful Da Nang looking for clothing stores. By 10am, $25 later, I was sitting under an orange tarp on a street corner, gulping down a $1 Pho, wearing a new dress shirt and black dress pants.
The reason for this attire, you ask? At 11:30 I was walking in the office of iCan, an INTESOL training school set up here by Canadians. Starting January 5th I will be learning how to teach English as a second language.
Just like my brother, now that I think about it.
The blog being at an all-time low in readers, it's hard to stay focused and dedicated, but today's a(nother) "chill-out" day, so being back to basics, it has returned to being my personal journal of sorts.
First of all, a little inventory update.
I lost, and bought, and forgot at hostels, about 5 towels now. 2 weeks ago however I found an awesome travel towel.
I have NOT used my solar charger. It's been demoted to my bag of rubbish, with the playing cards and beer opener for Ken.
Yesterday I forgot my sweet swimsuit in Hue. I suspect it was stolen, I had left it to dry in the dorm, I would have seen it when leaving.
I went through 4 of them in the last trip so I'm not at all surprised.
Apart from that, gadget wise all that was added was a fake Beatspill speaker, cheap razor that can't hold a charge and a usb key that won't work. All bought in China.
Also got a few extra shirts from Ben in Leeds, and shower flip flops I wear everywhere.
Now, for some travel tips...
Before you leave, think about your entertainment. Times have a-changed, every hostel had Wi-Fi and that means everyone's staring at their luminous screen.
In a tiny place in China, a lady teases: "You came all the way to Asia to play games on your tablet?" (I'm addicted to Jetpack Joyride). I simply extended my arm and moved it in a 180 degree arc, pointing at everyone. They were all on their tablets or phones, including her.
My best move so far was to bring a board game. I chose Carcassonne. It's easy to learn but hard to master and when you leave the small point counting board at home it fits in a small Tupperware. I've played about 20 games already.
Do not underestimate the awesomeness of a camera. You see so many things in so many days, the pictures help remember. Also, if you have a good one, you get better pictures, therefore people will more easily listen to your adventures you so desperately want to talk to them about when you're back home.
Don't be so fucking cheap, dammit. I saw a man spend 300,000 Dongs on a meal and then give shit to a lady for trying to sell him a chocolate bar 5,000 more (25 cents) than the last city. It's embarrassing.
More driving tips:
I realized that my last tips were more about country side driving, after watching a fellow traveler cause so many near-misses and not even being aware of them.
All around tips: don't be cheap. Okay, you bought the bike $200 and you will sell it in a month at a loss so you want to limit your spending. But how much is your life worth? Go and fix that front break, don't wait until you almost hit a cow and shit your pants.
Be gentle with her. Give her a name. "Treat her line a woman", was what Tanja told me. I'm not very nice to girls though, but when learning the clutch I got what she was saying... listen to her. Treat her well. Spoil her. Give her an oil change every few days. It's your life on the line.
Splurge, dammit. I just got a new helmet for 350,000 Dongs with visor and ears protection and I regret not doing it earlier.
City driving guide.
Eyes looking ahead. Big time. Don't worry about your sides or what's behind you. The Vietnamese are excellent at anticipating, as long as you drive responsibly and somewhat like them.
The right part of your line, again, is the buffer zone for window shoppers, texters, kids on bikes, people driving the wrong way. The part on the left is for people who drive fast and they can be ridiculously close to each other. I avoid it.
Don't do smooth large loops to dodge people and things. Try to drive as straight as possible. Again, there's people really close to you and they don't expect you to do that.
Intersections are awesome, because they are so chaotic. There's no stop signs. Some people go on the red light. Cars and trucks don't slow down. Just slow down (sometimes to a crawl) and assess the situation. People will avoid you.
Honking doesn't mean "fuck you" like home. It means "I'm here, watch out". Don't be afraid to use it.
If you see someone coming up on a side street to merge, give them some space. They will not look or stop. It's your job to give them the room they need. Serve slowly and lightly to your left and everything will be fine