I then got the nerve to hold the stupid thing, which I handled less like a champ. The pictures are pretty comical, but everyone just giggled as it started to wrap its head up around my neck! I could feel the snake’s head by my neck, and no one grabbed it! It felt like an eternity, and I was half a breath away from hyperventilating, but finally the locals grabbed the snake and took it off. Soooo funny guys! For our last stop of the day, we got back on the motor boat and floated over to Coconut Island, where we got to try rice wine, snake wine, and some handmade coconut candies before lunch. We hopped up into a horse drawn cart and trotted through the town a bit to a restaurant on the other side of the island for a simple meal of rice, sautéed veggies, chicken and spring rolls. After lunch, we had about 30 minutes, during which we grabbed some of the free bicycles the restaurant provided and rode through town and some of the back streets, until we approached a house and two crazed dogs bolted out toward us, barking and snapping their teeth as we hauled A** as fast as possible back out of the neighborhood. That was sort of the end of our riding around, plus we didn’t want to get too lost meandered through all the little walking paths, so we headed back to the restaurant to leave. Despite the bikes being free, I think we were the only people that took advantage, so we all rounded up and headed back to the boats and over to the mainland where our bus waited. Everyone seemed to nap on the ride back to the city, arriving around dusk.
We had already checked out of our hostel, and headed over to a tour company to arrange an overnight train or bus up north. What we did not anticipate was the huge tourist migration around Vietnam due to the holiday. We tried several different agencies and every one informed us that buses and trains up north were booked for close to a week! There was no way to get out of the city that night. There was also no chance of being able to stay in the city, because everything was booked out. Oh, nooooooo. O Lord. Plan? :/ And then, salvation! For the past few days, I had been in communication with...this may be hard to follow…a friend of my third brother’s childhood best friend’s older brother, who happened to live in Ho Chi Minh. Did you get that? You may have to read that a few times. Anyway, her name was Elizabeth and she had initially offered to host me when she thought I was traveling by myself, but felt more comfortable when she found out I was with Nicole. Apparently, the exchange between the family friend and her was something along the lines of “you can’t let her stay in that area. She comes from a good family!” I didn’t seem to think anything was overtly wrong with the area where we stayed, but we were also going to bed at 9pm. Anyway, we had been playing email tag for the past few days, and were supposed to meet for a drink that evening before our bus/train out of town. I was able to phone her, and asked if she wouldn’t mind housing us for one evening, seeing as how everything was booked. She immediately agreed, even saying “is it ok if you share a king sized bed?” Teeheehee, silly rabbit. The poor woman was basically a hostel for a few days anyway; apparently, her daughter’s tennis coach had been staying at a hotel on a weekly basis, but had been kicked out for the weekend for higher paying customers to come. I felt pretty bad springing it on her at the last minute, but was thankful she was so hospitable. We quick ran back to the tour company and booked a flight for the next day and a hotel for one night that was a bit more expensive than we wanted to pay, but we agreed it would probably only be for one night, when we could walk around and find something cheaper. We then hopped in a cab with our bags. I had zero idea where the area was, and after trying to repeat the exact phrase Elizabeth told me to the cab driver, it was clear he didn’t either. The cabbie did allow us to use his phone though to call Elizabeth, and she was able to explain the directions to him. We drove outside of the heart of the city, and had to ask directions several different times, with a few U-turns before we found her house, or villa as it’s actually called. Her husband, Matthew came out to meet us and showed in to their huge beautiful home. We got to stay in a big room with a big bed and a nice bathroom. What luxury! And only three days into our trip haha. We met the homeless tennis instructor, and with Elizabeth and Matthew’s daughter Luxi, we all sat down to a nice dinner of burgers and fries from their favorite hamburger joint. After dinner, we sat around the table chatting for a few hours, sipping on some of Matthew’s Johnnie Walker before calling it a night.
We were supposed to spend the night on a bus, so I think at least for that night, we definitely upgraded thanks to the overwhelming generosity of strangers!