Day 5 – 14th November
Hungover with bags to pack, a plane to catch and 3 other guys to kick into action I already don’t like today, but somehow it all comes together and we actually make our plane. Lamont discovers he's left his drum stick bag with all the sticks for the whole tour in a taxi last night so the slightly narky mood between us deepens, but by the time we’re on the plane we’re all out for the count anyway.
We land in Saigon and meet Mark, our tour manager here in a café. He tells us he is moving us to a different hotel due to me having stuff nicked from the previous one a couple of days ago. It seems a good plan and other than the slowest lift in the world the new hotel is pretty damn swish. I have working air conditioning, 2 beds (in case I get bored of sleeping in one I can try out the other I suppose) and a view. I’m usually the one who chooses the wrong room, the wrong queue to stand in, gets the bad seat on the plane etc…so this was a real score for Mr Tufnell.
We called our friend I shall call Missy S to see if she wanted to join us for dinner as she’d helped us out promoting the Hard Rock Café shows. As usual the guys voted to go to Margarita’s, our home from home, kitchen o'plenty. We all ordered the same as we always do, Si something meaty, spicy and befitting a man of such beardiness, James something Italian, usually pizza or pasta and Jon and I Vietnamese and as the hangover ebbed away we began to feel more human. In fact James' love of Bolognese has us wondering if he should write some kind of seperate tour diary "Bolognese around the world" chronicling the differences between the different culture's take on the Italian classic.
The other guys decided to go to bed, but Missy S asked if I wanted to meet a friend of hers and have a beer somewhere more casual and traditionally Vietnamese. So I got onto the back of her scooter and we hammered through the Saigon streets with me perched like a giant praying mantis behind this tiny girl as she chats animatedly to her friend weaving in and out of the traffic next to us. I get a few strange looks and after a few wrong turns we settle down to my second dinner of the evening. Just like Hanoi it’s the tiny tables, tiny plastic chairs and bits of BBQ chicken, pickled salad stuff and Saigon beer. Not bad at all.
On quieter streets we head back out on the scooter and this time I relax more, not holding with tight white knuckles to the back rail and realise how cool their system is here. In a way its like a constant show of mutual respect. You just go…you walk, drive, ride, push your cart or walk your dog at a steady pace the direction you want to go. Traffic lights are essentially meaningless as are lanes and direction….you just look ahead of you and don’t hit stuff and everyone does the same. It shouldn’t work, but It does.
I go to bed though feeling more tired than I can ever remember being.
My phone beeps and I have a text from another friend we met last time we were in town. It is 2.30am, I have barely slept, but because they have to work I agree to meet them at 10am and with a heavy heart set an alarm for 9am. Punishing.