Friday, October 30, 2009

A wonderful morning + Video

Ca Na - Phan Thiet
(Friday, 11.09.2009)

This is kind of a continuation from my earlier post, it was the day afterwards.

The first scenes in the video (below) were recorded out of the window that I had for that night. Although my feeling that morning and the memories I had afterwards were much more lovely than what you see there. It was gorgeous. There are just things you cannot capture on video, like waking up surrounded by sunlight, hearing the ocean, feeling good about the fact that you got there all by yourself, having endured all obstacles, wind, rain, heat, bike problems etc.

P9114145 2 vlo v.jpg

When I arrived at the beach, about one or two km after the place I had for the night, I really loved it. I didn't really care about how I record with the camera... just wanted to capture a bit of the mood from the moment. Something similar actually applies to the rest of the video. There was some partly rather funky traffic (two days later near and in Saigon) I had to keep my eyes on (maybe that was also the reason that I sometimes held the camera the wrong side around and accidentally recorded myself). ;)

Vietnam on the Move from Yves Schiepek on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lễ Cô Hồn/Wandering Souls day

Hué.. and beyond.
(Wednesday 02.09.2009)

It was an interesting morning. Actually it didn't go about quite perfectly, until I found this lovely place, where the people of the village outside of Hué - which is in the middle of Vietnam - celebrated their " Lễ Cô Hồn/Wandering Souls day" or "Offerings for the Dead day".

I arrived in Hué the night before, by train. I came from Thanh Hoa, after having travelled by bicycle for a couple of kilometres, starting in Hai Phong. I wasn't sure whether I should do some sightseeing in Hué or not. I only knew that it was famous for its tombs. Then I thought it probably would be more interesting to meet people that actually are alive. So I decided against staying. Also because I had just spent about a day (12 hours) on the train and wanted to jump back on the bicycle to see the country (not only from a moving window) and approach my (first) destination, Saigon, which was still pretty far. Later I heard a couple of times from people telling me about how quiet and beautiful Hué should be...

My first experience before leaving the city was lovely. After leaving the guesthouse I saw a woman selling the infamous sugarcane. ;) I had to stop. There was a cute girl, who was pretty funny, running around and so. :) Sugarcane is basically a trunk that squeezed out gives a sweet juice that you can drink without any additional ingredients. Only ice is naturally being added, in those hot parts of Asia. The first time trying, introduced to me by Tam back in Hai Phong, I felt it tastes like some non-alcoholic cocktail. A moment later I pictured myself returning to Germany with some trees on my shoulder. But I finally had to give up on this thought, since the machine for the sugarcane is heavier than dozens of these trunks. =)

One of the next things was what since then I remember as "Alcatraz Plaza". Virtually just a shopping centre. The tough thing was not to get out, but to get in! In short, it took me a couple of minutes getting up to the supermarket. I came with the bicycle and the first problem was where I can park it. I was adviced to another place twice. After I finally was inside and arrived at the 2nd floor of the shopping mall, in front of the supermarket, I could espy the food department, where I wanted to go. I tried to enter. - Not allowed. - I had to go to the 3rd floor and then from inside the supermarket go back down to the 2nd floor. Arrived at the 3rd floor I wasn't allowed to enter either... not with my helmet! I was kindly ordered to lock it in, some 20 metres besides the entrance. I wondered what I could possibly hide in the helmet. But rule is rule. So for a second I thought about locking it in, then entering, fighting myself through the crowds down to level 2, buying my bottle of water and some fruits, coming back to level 3 to pick up my helmet and then finally being able to leave - and the morning was in its later hours already - but I decided to leave immediately. Actually hilarious... if it wouldn't have been so sad.

Now the irony was that I probably wouldn't have got troubles with my stomach for the next couple of days, if I would have spent some hours in the supermarket (no other supermarket around), rather than buying fruits on the market on the street later, where I (stupidly) asked the saleswoman to cut the dragonfruit for me. I just wanted to eat it immediately. She used a knife that looked a bit rusty and as if never washed. Well.. *cough*, my own fault to still eat it then. So, I spent most of the following day in bed, with heavy rains all day additionally and only eating baguette all day the day afterwards (you know, the kind of baguette that makes your stomache ask you an hour later: "Where's the food?" and you think: "Ask the brain, there was something a bit earlier..."). Six of those, no other food...

But finally to how I ended up there at this ceremony, and why I was so eased with the idea to have a break (again) and at the same time witness something quite special. It was also time to have lunch soon, and maybe I could find something there, or at least close to this place. I only made it about 10-15 km outside of the city, not much at all. In between I stopped at a bike shop, checked my bicycle; back on the road, stopped for yet another break to have me yet another sugarcane drink. Again on the road I started to notice the smoke, which had been apparent already before, but slowly it began to bother me. At first I didn't see anything burning, no smoking chimneys or anything like that - saw only some smoke from a distance sometimes. Yet the smoke got so suffocating that I had to cough, put on mouth protection (which doesn't really help, only makes breathing harder) and steadily had to decrease speed, until I was slow enough to get enough O2 for my lungs to breath and still move the pedals a bit... rather than to lose consciousness and fall from the bike. This isn't much exaggerated, it felt really fatal.

It is almost impossible to use this kind of
protection and ride the bicycle/breath at the same
, so this was the main reason for stopping, when...

... I heard some sounds and music. Actually I was really upset about the smoke meanwhile and more or less thought I'd stop just to have a quick look. But then I just felt so warm at this place I had discovered. People smiling at me. Kids running around. Something was going on, and it felt special to me. I was tired, exhausted (.. already, strangely) and then moved.

(not so well recorded, unfortunately=)

(the kids)

(before I went inside)

The Ceremony


And then there even was some food! :0)


Of course the day wasn't done with that. Not long after the ceremony there was lots of rain (as seen in the first scenes of my "Vietnam & the rain"), a beautiful mountain/hill, followed by an exciting downhill ride, finding a lovely place by the sea where I stood for the night and the next day under water...