While waiting in the port terminal our guide asked me through the interpreter App on his phone to join him in the cafe area. I sort of became a novelty and everyone wanted to talk to me even though only a couple knew any English and I sure don't know Vietnamese. The were intrigued by my hair. I guess they don't see too many folks with anything except black hair. One thing they all ask is how old you are and are usually surprised when I tell them I am 63. One of the young ladies pointed to an older woman who was her mother and said she was the same age and called her over. We compared the brown spots on our hands and had a good laugh. I pulled out a map and showed the route we had taken and where we were heading to. They felt I should go to My Lai which was only 6km away but that didn't fit our schedule. I don't think they knew what that town name means to us. I guess there are some Buddhist monasteries there that they felt I would be interested in seeing since I was wearing Buddha earrings. The older woman cut up a papaya for Roger and me.
The boat ride took an hour and we were met by Thuong to guide us through their immigration. One thing about the Border Security officers, they are serious. There are no smiles or chit chat. The Ly Son Hotel is just outside the port area. We were warned that it was not tourist class and Hoa was right. The staff is helpful and prepared us a lunch that was enough for at least six people. Neither of us felt our stomachs could take very much and I am afraid we insulted the cook by not eating more but decided that was better than another trip to the hospital. When our guide came back we asked him to apologize and explain that Roger had been in the hospital two days before and was not supposed to eat much. I hope she understood. Again, food insecurity is definitely not an issue in this country.
Roger showed the driver and Thuong the photos from 1967 he brought and asked to go to those places. They recognized the places and lit up at the pictures. Thuong is the local English teacher and now he will have a new story to tell including old and new photographs. We started by going as high up the mountain as we could get. The USAF site is now occupied by the VN army. The old crater is now a dammed lake that the farmers use for the garlic and onions they grow. I did get a picture of Roger standing with the lighthouse behind. Other interesting sites were the cave pagoda, the large Buddha, and a museum of maps that show the Parasal and Spratlys Islands belong to Viet Nam and not China. A wall is being built around the island to keep out China.
After dinner, of porridge (rice in thin broth with a lot of cilantro) a tough chicken, and bread we walked around town. We were obviously a curiosity. The facial expressions said it all. I think maybe we were the first “western foreigner" some had ever seen. Unlike all other places we have been, the children do not come running with hellos but everyone understands a smile. Garlic is such a big part of life that kids play in it like we do sand, water, or snow.
There are only nine taxis on the island and streets are filled with garlic drying so when a car goes down the road it is another curiosity.
We experienced the Vietnamese style shower. Their bathrooms are one space for toilet, sink, and shower. The sink drains directly to the floor, the shower gets everything wet. The paper and towels must be placed away from shower flow. Actually we had a better shower than the night before.