Wife swap Vietnam

8 11 2012

Prince IV, our own private junk (for two days, anyway) in which to sail the South China Sea.

Scottish Wife and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary – 20 happy years together, which is really not too bad out of 32, is it? We were actually in Vietnam at the time and our four weeks away from home means that there’s very slim pickings on the golf front as far as the blog is concerned. Good news, then, for sister-in-law Sue, whose killer quote (“I love your blog, Dave, except for all the golf bits”) still keeps me awake at nights when I’m seeking inspiration for my next post.

The picture above shows the vessel that we and three friends rented from Indochina Junk for three days to tour beautiful Halong Bay in northern Vietnam. Wherever you looked there were fantastic limestone pillars (karsts) – over a thousand of them – rising from the sea. The cruise should have been ridiculously expensive – our own five man crew and first class service all the way – but it wasn’t. For that we can thank our good friend and part time travel organiser Sandi. Extraordinary scenery, brilliant food, warm-water kayaking and swimming and a barbecue on our own private beach. This was certainly an impressive start to our wedding anniversary celebrations! But after three days of living the life of Riley on the high seas, it was time for a bit of suffering. The trip by van back to Hanoi (the city of 3 million people and, apparently,  4 million motorbikes) wasn’t too bad, but we were soon on the train for the bumpy overnight journey to Sapa, up in the highlands near the Chinese border. A sleepless night was had by all and then, after a quick shower, we were off on our first hike – a 15 k trek up hill and down dale until we reached our homestay for the night.

These were some of the people we met en route to our homestay in Ta Phin. They’re from the Black Hmong minority group.

I think it would be fair to say that our homestay was not luxurious. One big room the size of a barn, with two barbecue pits to serve as ovens, and a sort of dormitory where the five of us would sleep. Our hosts were great, though, and took a keen interest in showing us how to prep for supper, including making spring rolls from scratch. If I do say so myself, we made a pretty good job of them, despite the somewhat iffy light on offer. Supper was plentiful and tasty, and accompanied by bottle after bottle of homemade rice wine. At our guide’s insistence, every round – and there were plenty – had to be accompanied by the words “mot, hai, ba – doh!” (“one, two, three – drink!”). Our voices got louder as the evening progressed and SW displayed the sort of drinking ability so often associated with her home country. Nam insisted that each cup had to be drained at a single draught, with “100%!” bellowed out each time, to show you’d drunk it all. By the time we toddled off to bed it was probably only eleven o’clock or so, but we’d put in a solid shift. A quick peck on the cheek for the missus: “Happy anniversary, Jewie!”  and I was out like a light. A little while later I woke up needing a jimmy and wandered off to find the squat toilet. Proud of myself for finding my way in the pitch dark and not falling in, I stumbled back down the hallway, fought my way through the mosquito netting and fell back into bed. Suddenly – it seemed like only minutes later, but it turned out to be nearly 6:00 a.m. –  I could hear someone yelling at me from very close quarters: “Dave! What are you doing?” A bit confused, I opened my eyes to see Sandi’s face about six inches from mine, with Ti peering at me from behind her. Oops! Wrong bed! I’d just spent half the night sleeping with the wrong wife (not to mention her husband) – and on our 32nd wedding anniversary too!  I tried to explain that I’d simply lost my sense of direction, but SW’s expression from across the dorm made it clear that I’d be losing something else if I didn’t watch it. “And that, your Honour, is how I came to sleep with the wrong wife on my wedding anniversary…”

Our homestay hosts in Ta Phin, from the Red Dzao minority group. They made the rice wine, we drank it. (It was only later that I discovered that contaminated home made rice wine is a leading cause of blindness and kidney failure in rural Vietnam).

As it happens, Ti had a hangover the size of Hanoi the next morning, while I got off scot (if not Scottish Wife) free. Sometimes there ain’t no justice. Yippee!

I don’t have the time or space to mention the rest of our trip (to Saigon and Vung Tau in the south of the country) or, to be honest, the inclination – I’m still jetlagged from yesterday’s 13 hour Hong Kong to Vancouver to Comox odyssey – but we bring back nothing but fond memories of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people. If it’s not on your bucket list yet, well, I think you should consider making room. Oh, and Vietnamese iced coffee? It’s the direct route to heaven!

All da best.

Travellin’ Dave

P.S. My only golf-related experience of the past month was a visit to the Open de Macau three weeks ago, won in fine style by India’s Gaganjeet Bullhar. Not too many star names at the tournament, but still room for the obligatory golf picture:

Asian Tour player on the range at Macau Golf and Country Club. What’s unusual is that he’s hitting balls straight into the South China Sea: the balls float and there’s a man in a rowing boat who fishes them out of the water with a net every once in a while.


Scottish Wife, the love of my life…




4 responses

9 11 2012
John Carswell

Dave: I’m pretty sure it will take a long time to come back from this error in … well, you know. SW will require significant attention over many moons before you are back out of the house of dogs.

9 11 2012
Bagger Dave

Just a minor navigational error, John. I’m sure that Julie will release me from the kennel any day now. It was the sort of miscalculation that could happen to anybody…

12 11 2012

Congratulations on your anniversary, our condolences to Julie.
Having slept with you before I can understand the offended husband’s trepidation, I’d be scared sh1tless.
Glad you both had such a great time, look forward to hearing more if and when we return from the sun.

12 11 2012
Bagger Dave

I remember sun, Peter, but it sure seems like a long time ago. I’m glad you and Di are in the warm and I look forward to telling you the uncut version of the Vietnam experience next time we meet up.

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