The group met as usual in January despite the weather and a number of people being away on holiday. It wasn’t the biggest turnout…but it took place…people were able to enjoy each others company and socialize.
Maurice’s Trip and Misadventures
There were a lot of early starts…but at least the first flight from Birmingham to Dubai was in the afternoon. Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam was also in daylight, but by the time Maurice had cleared Customs Control, it was dark…so it was a great relief to find a placard with his name being held by a driver in the Arrivals Hall. The old city is a fair distance from the airport…if there are Road Safety Rules…no one seems to take much notice of them…especially two wheeled vehicles, who appear to ignore red traffic lights, one way traffic signs and to drive on the pavement. Scary!
The hostel was basic, but it had free Wi-Fi that worked and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful. When Maurice made a major error with a domestic flight booking, it was spotted by the duty manager who went out of her way to sort out the problem. It required going to the airline’s office at the other end of city before they closed. With less than an hour to go…a taxi was arranged and directions given. Flight sorted! Unfortunately, in his haste…Maurice had left without the hostel details….and the taxi driver had driven off. How did he get get back across a strange city at night? That’s a tale in itself.
A two day excursion to the Mekong Delta introduced a bunch of new companions…amongst whom Francois and Rene established themselves as friends. Rene is a brilliant photographer and Francois is a published song writer. One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the floating market.
Hội An is a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colourful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda. This is where Maurice had a nasty fall whilst out walking. It is a fascinating place and well worth a repeat visit. Before his accident Maurice took a trip to the Marble Mountains…with caves, mountain views and lots of pagodas.
Despite a limp and some pain, the planned visits to Melbourne, Auckland and the Philippines went more or less as planned.
In Melbourne, instead of joining Gordon, Paul and Sangita on Joy Radio, as in previous years, Maurice took a taxi directly to Alexandra Park to help with the Vintage Men’s stall at Midsumma Carnival. Huge crowds…great day!