Funky Monkey and the Number Four Boat

Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, February 3, 2006

What do Funky Monkey, the number four, happy hour, fishing villages, snorkling, and drumming on plastic containers have in common?

The Nha Trang Island boat tour on the Number Four Boat, that's what.

We left, a merry gang of forty Vietnamese, Cambodians, Japanese, Australians, Americans, English, Belgians, French, Chinese, and Koreans, from the Cau Da Wharf of Nha Trang for a day of boating around the offshore islands. The tour,longer than the three hour tour of Gilligan's Island, visited four islands and included live music, happy hour, snorkling, a spread for lunch, a fishing village visit, and some lounging around.

We began with snorkling in a marine nature reserve. The water was warm as I swam around with the fishes, enjoying the fact that my ribs were healed enough a month after the jumbo accident in Laos for me to swim--finally--without a nagging pain. Traveling with broken ribs is no fun, but them's the breaks.

Feeling energized from the snorkeling, I talked for a while with a Vietnamese-Australian who left Vietnam with his family when he was fourteen, escaping the tightening grip of the not-so-free "liberators": the Communist Government of Vietnam. His father was a military policeman in South Vietnam during the war and they fled Kon Tum as the communists approached in 1975, heading to Saigon: "I was very young, but I remember passing dead bodies--soldiers--and seeing guns."

He was one of the thousands of boat people, many of whom died in the oceans, hoping the currents would take them to lands where freedom would ring more loudly, once the government collectivized most businesses and agriculture in the south, devastating the economy and leading to food shortages. After luckily landing in Malaysia, he eventually settled in Australia.

Now he's returned after the Vietnamese government has realized that forced communism under an authoritarian government does not work. Now, Vietnam has a rice surplus and is the second largest exporter after Thailand.

At the next stop, we jumped off the boats. Feeling good about my ribs, I took a running start and jumped from the top of the boat to join the happy hour: Vietnamese wine while floating in the water.

The crew then hooked together our boat with two other tour boats and we shared heaping plates of fish, shrimp, fruits, and more for lunch. After lunch, the live music and dancing began.

Our tour leader, Loc, preferred the name Funky Monkey and fit the part. He had energized us all day with his funny jokes, but now he donned his lead singer role with the crew. The captain of the Number Four Boat was the drummer, whose drums were made of pots and plastic containers of sorts and an extensively taped bass drum. The first mate was the lead and only guitarist. The rest of the crew were the back-up singers. They sang songs in Vietnamese, English, and did versions of "Frere Jacques" (what's the English name?) in the language of every member on board (including Korean)--impressive. Funky Monkey ended with a crazy falsetto rendition of "What's Up" by Four Non-blondes.

We visited a couple more islands and a fishing village before heading back to Nha Trang, a great place to relax for a couple of days and enjoy good food at the Cyclo Cafe and Same Same But Different. After the long bus ride along the coastal route one, which passed the resort area of Mui Ne, white sand beaches, small villages, and the backbone of coastal mountains that lines the shore of the South China Sea.

Thank you Funky Monkey.
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