23/4 - A bit of a lie in and a bit of a stretch and the only plan is to have some breakfast and hire a bike and it worked out. Another lady shopper which my knees hit the handlebars, but it has gears, 2. I didn't push my luck and go against the traffic, so went with the flow, did a couple of rights then straight on to the river, where I thought I had better make a turn, so went left and out of town through some of the residential area. Eventually a bridge showed up, so I went over it, at a walk, as did everyone, it is small and steep. A woman coming down the other way was digging her heels in to try and stop her overloaded barrow running her over. When I got to the apex, a lad indicated, very strongly, that I should go back. I didn't know why, so I waited until he had gone and carried on regardless. I hit full steam ahead down the bridge and saw a sign saying Frontier Area. I wasn't sure what that meant and being an ex-trained killer, the Highlander, a cowboy and phscizophrenic I kept going.
I didn't think it possible, but the Vietnamese seem more smiley than the Cambodians, or they know what the sign means. The Cambodian smile is like a whole face glow. The Vietnamese smile is a friendly, bright-eyed glow. I love them both. I went through a village with lots of people lying around in hammocks or sitting around, so I found a crash barrier under a tree, over looking the Mekong and sat around too. A few inquisitive people came along and eventually left, so I left too, heading out into the countryside. I passed a group of older fellas sitting in the shade around a table, they gave me loads of chat and cheers as I went passed, there were lots of others along the way with smiley faces and friendly hellos. The houses eventually started to thin out and a man made pond appeared and looked like it was boiling, so being a nosey bugger, I pulled over. It is a fish farm and the fish are constantly feeding on the top. By the amount of feed these blokes are emptying in, the fish must be real Chubby Checkers. I thought we fed the fish a lot when we went to Ireland. These blokes are rowing around and just emptying sack after sack into the pond. There were at least 20 x 50Kg sacks went in. Down the road, there are loads of these farms. The Vietnamese are an organised people. The fields are lush green, whereas in Cambodia they are parched brown. Cambodias time will come, I hope. Riding along I can see the irrigation setup in full flow, it is well setup. I ended up at another get off and push bridge, so I did and then the road turned into a dirt track. It was well rutted. I didn't know what would fall apart first, me or the bike, so I headed back after a mile or so. The rowdy group of old fellas were still sat there and just as rowdy. They beckoned me over and who am I to refuse an invitation. I was giving a rousing welcome followed by a glass of what tasted like watered down pernod. Now I know why they are so rowdy. The oldest lad made a young lass of about 10 give me the glass again and shake hands. She was a bit reluctant, perhaps that is why he pushed her. My winning Grandad smile won her over in the end, or the big push he gave her. I was given the glass about 6 times and then they saw I was enjoying it too much, so waved so long. Down the road, I passed a lass pushing a barrow, selling water melons and pineapples. I went on about 100 metres, did a U turn and went and bought a water melon, a big bugger and she had no knife to cut it up, trauma, so I put it in the shopping basket and carried on until I got a friendly set of waves from a little shop, so another U turn and I asked if they could slice up my water melon. It was no problem and there was a lot of lauging and joking going on around me and some water melon got thrown at one point. I think some P taking was going on with the lady cutting it up. I left half the melon as payment, not that they wanted anything, we had a laugh and that was enough. They asked me to stop and eat it there, but being bashful and a sloppy eater, I moved on, back to the crash barrier from this morning and ate half of my half. I was joined by Vietnam's chief Mr Grumpy. If he had a smile in him, he kept it well hidden. He scanned my LP with an0ther lad, moaned a bit then left. He gave half a smile. I think I wore him down.
You may not believe this, but you should, me being honest Gil Brooks. I was sat thinking "I could go a coffee and a piece of cake." Less than a minute later, a lady walked down the road pushing a barrow of cakes. What could I do but buy a couple, only small ones and they were lovely, just the brew missing. With my engine now stoked up, I set off back. I had a few races with kids along the way, but didn't manage to win one, even when they were 2 up. I got back to the 1st "get off and push " bridge and a policeman pulled me over. Not bad??? 3 months on the road and my first arrest. (Only joking little Sis.) I guess I shouldn't be cycling around here after all. He motioned me back over the bridge and made a point of showing the Frontier sign, but too late, I'd already had a good day, he couldn't spoil it. Back over the bridge, through the town and out the other side, well, some side anyway. I stopped for an e-fix, the place was full of school kids and most of them gaming. Next stop, my first Vietnamese coffee and it is kick ass coffee. I had to put some sugar in it. Luckily a pot of Vietnamese tea came with it, free. I am getting a taste for it. Kheong gave me some in Cambodia. Buzzing from the coffee, I broke the sound barrier back into town and headed for the riverside prom. The rush hour has started and you have to be on your toes, there's motorbikes everywhere. The Lexus 4x4 and other flash cars as in Cambodia, don't abound here, suggesting a fairer share of the wealth and less corruption. I hope the Cambodian government hitmen haven't found my blog. I pulled over at a bench on the prom. There are loads of people doing laps of the prom, all ages too. Eventually, about 6 schoolgirls descended on me. This was a real English lesson. THey got their school books out and another 2 older lasses joined, but they were more interested in the LP. We were having some fun and some difficulty, when an old fellow joined us. He had been doing laps of the prom on his bike with his 1 year old nephew as up front pillion. He spoke pretty good English, so the lesson picked up. He used to work in Saigon for different English speaking companies, but that was 30 years ago, so he confessed to being a bit rusty. The girls left, then shortly came back. I don't know what happened there. The littlest one was the loudest and had the biggest smile. Next time the girls left for good. Me and the old fellow had a bit more chat, then he went off to do more laps and I went to watch some lads playing volleyball on a sandy patch by the river. Evening seems to be exercise time. Perhaps I should take note, instead of cycling around in the midday sun, like some mad dog. I headed back to the hotel, too late to visit the market next door, so had a beer and some nosh and spoke with the hotel staff, they are very friendly and like to practice English.