Yesterday the locals were laughing with us. Today they were laughing at us.
We rode through the rain today. Warm, relentless, thoroughly soaking rain. And mud, lots and lots of rich, sticky, red mud. Everywhere we went there were locals pointing at us, raising eyebrows and good-naturedly laughing. While the locals cowered safely under-cover they obviously had difficulty understanding what on Earth these lunatic foreigners were doing.
I don’t remember the last time I was quite so wet and mud-covered and utterly bedraggled. The kids did marvellously over 60 km. After a while we were so thoroughly mucky and wet that it became fun to ride right through the deepest puddles with water spraying everywhere. The only real problem occurred when we had to catch a tiny ferry from the mainland out to an island. The boat was little more than a skiff with a stinking diesel engine and as we hung on the outside edge it got cold even over the course of a ten minute voyage. Riding the length of the island on the other side was a joy as we negotiated smooth concrete paths, zooming and splashing through the heart of a series of small villages.
At the farther end of the island we took a slightly larger ferry back to the mainland and rode on along the coast. Lunch saw us stopping at a small restaurant beside the China Sea. It also saw a lot of changing into dry clothes and huddling over hot tea. After lunch we drove for about an hour through a more industrial area where Vietnam processes its oil into petrol.
We finally came to the memorial to the My Lai Massacre which is on the site where the actual events took place. The museum is sobering to say the least and is presented with a very black-and-white view of the events which seems to leave some of the American reviewers on Tripadvisor unhappy – but this is one area where the Vietnamese are entitled to be as clearly one-sided as they like. The truly depressing thing about My Lai is not only that it happened but that it was hardly unique – it was just the one time where there was a photographer present.
Finally, with all the kids except Callum retreating to the bus we all made a mad dash over the last ten kilometres to our hotel in Quang Ngai and a lovely, lovely warm shower.