Diem Ben Phuey
Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
85Trip End Dec 24, 2011
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We leave Sappa in a minivan to drive us to the border town, Diem Ben Phu. The journey is pretty amazing, winding up and down mountains, the views are incredible. The one thing that is slightly out of the ordinbary is that the driver plays a greatest hits album... by Boney M, over and over again for the 8hr journey. (This reminds Claire of a documentary called 'Touching the Void' in which a climber, after having an accident and having to crawl for miles near to death, recalls getting Boney M stuck in his head. Whilst driving fast up very steep mountains, Claire shares his view that to die to the sound of Boney M would be a terrible, terrible thing.)
The joureny takes us off the beaten track through tiny villages of other tribes, one being the Tay people (pronounced, 'Thai') whose women never cut their hair and wear it tied in a high bun, Amy Winehouse style
At our first drink break a drunk local man approaches us, pointing at Daddy P and talking rapidly. Our tour guide laughs and says that the man is the local crazy, whilst Dad P stays quite calm saying, "Im English".
We stop for lunch at a family run place (the restaurant is on top of their living quarters) and there are caged geese, Pigs and Chickens outside the toilet. While we eat noodles and cabbage we look up at posters of Vietnamese pop stars surrounding one of a young Brittany Spears.
We arrive at dusty Diem Ben Phu and are welcomed back into the familiar Asian heat. We have dinner in the restaurant to the sounds of a thumping nightclub beneath the hotel. The menu includes tortoise, frog, snake and buffallo.
In the morning we go to the french war museum, that shows information on the famous battle that took place here in the 50's. Daddy P is in his element, having read a lot and seen films about the battle. After we make ourway to the war heroes cemetary across the road. On the hill overlooking it is the remnants of a french tank and the cemetary itself is very still and peacefull with rows upon rows of identical head stones, all baring the Vietnamese yellow star
Claire and Jo purchase bus tickets for the 6hr journey on to Laos for the following morning, we have a farewell lunch and then it is time to say goodbye to Ma and Pa P, after a great time together, as they continue their travelling in Vietnam.
We then make our way to a guesthouse opposite the bus station (the bus leaves at 5:30am) and get us a (not so comfy!) room for 180,000 Dong. (about $8 or 5 quid)
We walk the main high street, trying to find somewhere to eat, but everywhere seems closed and everyone is either asleep or not willing to humour a couple of falang. So we return to the guesthouse and eat next door at a tiny pho cafe, to eat tofu, rice and morning glory. Inside the cafe we are the only patrons, there is about 5 caged birds and a hand gun on the floor beneath our table.
We then go back to our room and watch the only two episodes of glee that Jo has on her iphone, (for the 14th time) and will away the hours. For entertainment for the rest of the day, we mime along to Vietnamese soap operas on the small tv in the room; try and have a conversation by miming the traffic outside; and Claire scratches Jo with a chewed off finger nail.