Craig writes: Today was meant to be a bike ride from our hotel to a village about 3kms away. This was arranged before we actually arrived here and witnessed the sheer lunacy of what goes on on the roads. If it was just me, by myself, in a sumo suit, I would probably have had a go. But with two young boys and a wife who's major riding experience has been at Rotto, and the fact Christina is the only person on the trip who knows what the hell we're doing and where we're suppose to be going, we made some slight adjustments. We would catch the bus to the village and ride around the much quieter pathways of the veggie garden.
After a 5 minute mini bus ride we arrived at Tra Que, a large communal organic veggie garden, several hectares in size. The government gives every family an allotment based on 200sq metres per family member. I wonder if the Stirling Council would be interested in that idea? We're all given a bike and proceed to have a very leisurely and pleasant cycle on the smooth quiet pathways. Except Charlie, who may have been permanently scarred by the countless near misses we've witnessed and refuses to get anywhere near anything with two wheels. To his credit when we return after our first lap, intact and happy, he does concede to a dinky ride on the back of my bike for a slow second lap, but he's huggin' me like Quasimodo's lump.
|Here we are for a tour and lunch and Charlie doesn't eat greens|
|Quasimodo and his lump|
|We're here for the job interview|
We had lunch overlooking the garden. Must say I'm a much bigger fan of eating organic veggies than seeing how they're grown. Christina enjoyed it though and Charlie found it fascinating to pick a pot pourri of different herbs and mash them all together to create his very own unique herbal fragrance. He thought it smelt great and I should rub it on myself as a cologne. I said if it went to market we could call it "POO", "For Men Who Like Their Own Company".
Earlier we visited a pottery factory run out of the back of someones home. The government pays these folks to maintain the traditional ways of pottery making. We watched as this old woman stood on one foot clinging to a post while using the other foot to spin a large smooth wooden pottery wheel. Another woman sat opposite on crunched haunches, moulding and caressing the clay, freshly pulled from the nearby river. Where once sat a spinning mound of wet mud suddenly appeared from between two ancient cracked hands the most beautiful pots and bowls. We all took turns squatting down next to her to have a go. Her gentle expert hands on ours assured we all made little master pieces.
|Vietnamese pea game,"It's under that one"|
|The very latest in antique kilns|
|D.J spin that wheel|
|A master piece in the making|
|Destined for E Bay, let the bidding begin|
|Charlie trying to inhale his Chocolate Mouse Truffle.|
|"Trust me, this Cargo's is quite the find."|
|You seriously expect me to choose just one|
Today was ours to do as we wanted. Slept in, late breaky and then back to the rooms for some hangin' out time. Not wanting to sludge the whole day away we headed down to the pool for some piggy back races. Christina is current reigning champ. Then, a very dodgy attempt at some badminton. No self respecting shuttle cock should have been put through what we put that poor thing through. The locals were pissing themselves. Charlie and I then had a crack at a bit of beach volley ball. Hard yakka for a little fella but man he gave it a solid go. Hungry after all the jumping around, it was club sandwiches and watermelon juice then Callum and Charlie decided to hit the beach.
|Left foot in the top right pocket|
|Light lunch before hitting the badminton court.|
|Read the sign people, It's official, we were at China Beach|
While the beach is long and beautiful the South China Sea is snarly and treacherous at this time of year. I was standing vigil on the shore watching the boys play in the breakers. The sky is a constant dense curtain pulled across the sun, dove grey with a light steely blue tinge to it. The mountain ranges to the left and the scattered islands to the right are just a vague silhouette. Vacant deck chairs are scattered up and down the beach. All sitting under faded thatched roofs, their long white cushions long packed way. Four life guards behind me run up and down the beach trying to thread a volley ball through a life saving ring dug into the sand. Yehhs ringing out to celebrate a goal and long ooohhs for the near misses. Two homeless dogs sniff and paw there way along the beach, one stopping to take a piss on one of a cluster of what I think are life saving pods. Large thimble shaped craft, thatched and laquered thick against the water. They were bone dry and pulled well back from the seas groping reach. Further down on the shores edge sits what may be an old man and his son. Their long rods cast well out past the breakers. They sit hopeful and in silence. Soon they uproot themselves and move off further down the beach. Either done for the day or just restless, I'm not sure. My two young princes bounce around in the rough wash. Their sitting, holding hands with their eyes closed, shoulders tight in anticipation of the next series of waves about to crash and roll into them. First one then another. They laugh, they shriek and I stand there glowing with pride and bursting with love. I'm a very lucky man.
|Me getting disqualified for catching Charlies spike.|
|Baywatch, "The Senior Years"|
|Life should always be this much fun|