“If you do that, I’ll fly away.”
I took up the Dane’s offer of getting involved in kite surfing. He offered to teach me how it’s done, at least the basics. I agreed to meet him on the beach near a wind-stretched red flag at 1 pm.
I’ve never been surfing, and thought the high curls and crashing water a bit off-putting, not that I couldn’t manage them, being a good swimmer.
A lot were out in full swing on the spumy sea. One surfer, though, struggled, showing how difficult the sport is. He couldn’t get enough power from the kite, or wasn’t handling the controls correctly. After falling off several times, he gave up, despite being aided by his ever alert female companion. Most, nevertheless, were real pros: turning, flexing, jumping and skimming on the high waters; in fact, getting as much from the activity as possible.
The Dane kept his promise and surfed in. He left his equipment set up on the beach to demonstrate.
“Had a good time?” I asked.
“Sure, although it might be a bit dangerous. Have you checked out the prices at the school?”
“I think they’re a bit pricey.”
He showed me the way you handle the bar and pulley; something about turning right, then left. I added a comment about the kite and the board after lifting them:
“They’re not that heavy.”
A British guy came over and asked the Dane about how you get the power.
“I’ll have a jolly good look before I even think about doin it,” showing a jocularity peculiar to his countrymen. “Maybe not. I have enough toys already.”
“I feel the same,” I agreed.
“I’ll be goin in a couple of days anyway.”
He asked me where I am from:
“The North of England.”
From Whitstable in North Kent.”
“Yeah, your accent sounds from that part of the country.”
An almost-naked female approached and strolled past. Apart from wearing a very skimpy bikini bottom and a blue-wrapped turban-like head covering, had nothing in between. He commented on her drooping boobs.
“It’s really awful….aren’t they?” I made no comment.
Looking back after she’d passed, he said:
“The other end’s not much either. Oh, well, all you can do is letch.”
I’m all for freedom and the unencumbered, but if you’re exposing yourself on a public beach, then your likely to encounter attention or cause some reaction.
He commented on a surfer practicing some complicated manoeuvres:
“Look, there’s a guy playing in the surf.”
He flipped, turned, and skimmed in the curling water.
A gigantic curl prompted:
“Here’s a woppa! I can’t help thinking of the theme tune from ‘Hawaii Five O:’ da da da da da da….” He continued to mimick the sound.
“And what about Captain Nemo and the Penguins? ‘mine..mine…nice to talk to ya.”
I shook his hand. He slipped on a flimsy mult-colored sleeveless shirt and left.
I made my way back to the road and stopped at a restaurant and asked for a bowl of chicken soup and two Saigon beers.
Although generally polite and exact when it comes to handling money, Vietnamese can get a bit muddled about change, as some are not used to changing large denominations.
“Do you have change for me?’
I took back the 150,000 Dong; 10,000 too much.
I fished through my Dong notes and tried to indicate that he should have 10,000 Dong more, but it didn’t register. Rather than broach the problem again, I left and called into the Co Co Cafe and booked a bus ticket for Saigon for Tuesday, the morning after tomorrow.
A young guy, friendly and smiley, was sitting at the booking desk of the Sta Travel Agency.
“I’ve been learning English for five months.”
“Five months!” You speak it well.” His level and motivation were surpising. It must go with the job.
“But I need to improve.”
“I wish my current lot of Chinese students were that good and that motivated. I’m heading back there.”
“To China! Vietnam was controlled by China for a hundred years,” hinting at how his country and people suffered under foreign imperialism and aggression. The French, probably, were the next to grab hold of it.
“I have a brother who works as a farmer in the mountains. He is very poor.”
“I’m sure that area would be very interesting to travel through. The real Vietnam,” I assessed.
I said I’d be along tomorrow to rent a motorbike for the day. I also hoped to see his happy, friendly and smiling face once more.