Saturday 22nd December. Cat ba island. Off Vietnam. A cafe. Someplace. Just me
We came on bicycles. 7 of us. The tour guide. Me and Martin. The family from Virginia. Peggy and Jim and Erin and Will (?). We cycled with me lagging behind as usual. Little legs going round as fast as theirs but always behind. And having to get off to walk the bike up the hill.
We came from the port on our bicycles to here. A long time since I was on a bicycle. St Ives with hills and cobbles, and me (who prefers horizontal in water to vertical on land), and bicycles are not a combo I’ve yet figured out. Or even had any desire to. Which is a shame for Mr P whose family were bicycle makers. Although his family were also sweet shop owners and sweets don’t figure hugely these days either. (Though just in case you are thinking of buying me sweets, I can always be tempted with a good chocolate lime. The ones with really limey outsides and nice chocolate inside. Not pale sugary poor imitations. or give me Turkish delight. Oh yes that would be nice with my Vietnamese coffee. Ah, no, sadly I’m not in the right country for either. I’m in Vietnam with an American family and a French family eating beside me. In A country that is literally a Phoenix arising from the ashes. I wonder if the smiley Vietnamese restaurant owner is as forgiving as she looks. I heard that this village was made because the Americans were bombing the fishermen in the bay. (God knows why?!) The fishermen and their families fled in land. The smiley woman looks old enough to have been around when that happened. Did she flee bombs as a child whilst I was feasting on chocolate limes and riding my bicycle.
This morning we made a very early start from Hanoi to Hai Phong. All the reviews and my daughter Lucy’s account, say the Halong Bay cruising is a must, a highlight of any visit to Vietnam. And whilst Mr P and I are both well past full moon raves, we decided we should. Took a ferry that should have been decommissioned years ago. A mini bus ride. A boat ride. Had a sumptuous lunch aboard the dark wooden boat and I sieved the chance for a post lunch swim from the boat. Sea was not the 23 degrees billed, so a bit of a shock when I hit the water after jumping off the boat. But refreshing and a lot warmer than swimming back home in the sea on the last Saturday before Christmas would be. Cycling and trekking to follow swim . So much activity in one day.
The last Saturday before Christmas. Normally I’d be doing something. Food or present related. Or decorating a tree or munching on mince pies. But most definitely doing, tho’ unlikely cycling or trekking.
Anx then I see the sleeping dog.
I make an executive decision to leave everyone to it. To stop. Stay put. Just be. Rare on the last Saturday …..
And so I’m here alone with my Vietnamese drip drip drip coffee. The French and Americans have long since departed. So has Mr P.
There’s just me and a few dogs. The sleeping one. Taking a rest. Time out. The others chasing their tails. But let the sleeping dog lie. No need to run with his/her tribe today.
I love the idea of just sitting here. Having time to daydream. Look at all the detail around d me. Fascinating to see the prep area for this restaurant. The shapes and the patterns. Man made and natural. The bikes we came on all lined up facing same way except mine.
I look at the map. I have no real idea where I am on Cat Ba island. I’m not hiking to the top of the mountain for a phenomenal view, but from where I’m sat the view is just perfect. And the sense of peace and coming home to myself very divine. The sun has just come out. There’s a simple hammock. And I’ve even found baby Jesus’s Mum and a couple of the three wise men.