Thursday, November 29, 2012

Couldn't even see Núi Voi!

Today we wanted to climb Núi Voi - Elephant Mountain.  So a convoy gathered at my place bright and early.  A quick round of darts while we were waiting for the stragglers... (see the dart in flight?)

Tuấn Anh scored a bulls eye!

It was cold and overcast as we mounted up and set out for Vinh's place at An Lão. I was on behind Khánh, Hannah was with Dương, Katie behind Thành, and the fourth bike was Tuấn Anh and Xuân. We got separated into two groups on the way there and took the wrong exit on a roundabout, so we ended up miles in the wrong direction. Dương and Hannah were following us. It began to rain in a light mist, but the roads we travelled were very muddy. After about half an hour going the wrong way Xuân called us to find out where we were ... they had been waiting at Vinh's turn-off for ages and were beginning to worry.  Praise God he did!!! We turned around and went back... getting wetter and colder and muddier - but at least we were headed the right way.   Eventually we caught up with the others and arrived at Vinh's place much later than we planned.  Hannah and I had to hose the mud off the back of our pants legs before we could go into the house.. LOL !

As soon as we arrived, Bich gave Katie the baby to hold, much to her delight!

Katie and Hannah with Vinh's wife, Bich

..............................Xuân,  Tuấn Anh, Nam, Thành, Dương and  Khánh

Bich and Vinh's mother had prepared an absolutely delicious meal for our lunch.

Nam is very small for his age, but this is one cool trick!

There was no way we were going to climb Núi Voi today ... the cloud cover was so low you couldn't see anything and it would have been wet and treacherous underfoot.  So we went for a ride to look around... 
How cool is this for an over-the-shoulder-and-hope-for-the-best photo!!

We stopped at a quaint little temple and took a heap of photos




Vinh and Khánh - old classmates

Tuấn Anh, Katie, Xuân, Thành, Dương,  Vinh, me and Hannah

...a couple of scenic shots...

Then we went to the Community House near the base of Núi Voi for a look.

This lady came and let us in and answered our questions.

This building at the back stands in front of an interesting cave you can see behind Xuân...

Aren't the aerial roots on this tree amazing!

Particularly fascinating was this band of ancient oysters about 1.5m above the cave floor.  
This whole area must have been under seawater for this have occurred - pretty mind-boggling!

It was misting rain again as we left

These roadworks had made mush of the road to the base of Elephant Mountain and only Khánh was prepared to try and navigate it. We slipped and skidded our way to the beginning of the steps that wind up the mountain and realised that none of the others had followed us through the mud. So we slipped and skidded our way back again. It was an impressive feat of strength and skill to keep our bike upright - we could have ended up in the mud so very easily!

And there our adventure ended... Núi Voi shrouded in cloud.  We resolved to come again next year and have another go. But today was not the day for climbing mountains....  but hey, we had a great day anyway!

That night Katie, Hannah and I went to Đồ Sơn with Gene to her favourite  restaurant for Tamarind Crab. I think maybe we were the only customers in all of Đồ Sơn, for the restaurants all looked deserted on this cold, bleak night.  We feasted on crab and just came home (by taxi).  It was good, but not as delicious as the crab we enjoyed on the boat!

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