Extraordinary to Extra Ordinary – Saigon
Already more than twenty days into the New Year!
From writing about two or three hikes a week I am shrunk to one ‘every so often’.
I thought today that nothing of any great significance had happened since the first of January.
Hoàng Văn Thụ Park
What was extraordinary a few months ago has become ordinary. January last year and I posted about a day of haphazard weather in the North Cumbria hills. Dark dramatic sky, snow, wind, cold. A trip outside wrapped in all the hi tech stuff possible to protect me from the elements. I never imagined that one year later I would be so warm that even wearing socks is out of the question.
Colour in Bến Thành Market
And no mountains. That too was unimaginable but here I am. In a flat, hot city. So hot that that I can hardly remember cold. Well only just. I spent a week in the mountains of Phong Nha National Park. A brief relief from 35C. Recently, though, there has been the coldest temperature for 7 years, 19C. Today it is quite cool, 30C, so with a breeze I can sit and enjoy fresh air with the windows open.
To avoid the heat locals are up and about shortly after dawn. Exercise time, out playing badminton, running or jogging.
And if you have any doubt about covering from head to toe to shield from the sun.
Take a look at my shirt. It was dark blue – nothing has been spilt on it. The colour change merely the work of solar rays.
Hoàng Văn Thụ Park
I’m even attempting to learn Vietnamese. Slowly. The little kids I teach English to retain and learn far more quickly than I. But it’s fun and certainly waking up my brain. When ‘TR’ is pronounced ch – as in church and i is e, there are 3 different ways to pronounce O, depending on the accent. The meaning of a word is completely changed by the tone in which you say it and each syllable has a space between. The phrase ‘explain in words of one syllable’ becomes rather irrelevant, and I’m once more challenged by those metaphorical mountains.
Fishing in Hoàng Văn Thụ park
In the absence of hills my ‘social media’ posts of one kind or another frequently feature food either cooked or uncooked. To me, the best thing in this hectic city.
learning to cook Vietnamese style
As luck would have it one of the lovely people I have met is a fantastic cook and I am learning how to make a little.
And as for transport, from the stress of my first few outings, riding my motorbike has become as stress less as driving a car – as has, unfortunately dealing with punctures. But with a repair stop every 500m or so in the city it is not really a problem and there really is nothing to do but sit and wait while the frenetic pace continues to buzz around.
Road side repair
I am about half way through my ‘grown-up-gap-year’ and the next few months are punctuated with travel plans and visitors from home. In no time at all I will be back on the hills and this will be a distant dream.