Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vietnam 2016 Days -10 to 0. Preparations

When at 3 pm Frank, the driller, gave up his efforts to free the bit of the well he was drilling, and declared that we would have to pull all 120 ft of auger, I felt like swearing. We had started at 6 am, and by now the day was sweltering and we were facing another three hours of hard, hot work (well, the drillers were going to work hard, while I was going to dehydrate slowly under the 106ยบF heat “witnessing” the whole operation). The County had been directed to install 8 monitoring wells, and I had been very happy to offer my services as the registered geologist in charge, but it had meant staying in the Central Valley for the whole month of July, which in principle was against my travel religion. Now it became all too clear why I avoid the Central Valley of California in the summer. I had been working under the sun for days on end, and this mishap was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Short of heat stroke, my mind wandered through my plans for the late summer: A week traveling on a scooter through south Vietnam, and 12 more days reconnoitering north Thailand, also astride a scooter. Yes, I realize that I would be heading for the equatorial rain forest, and that it is the monsoon season there, but at this point the idea of a torrential rain was most welcome (we will see if I feel so optimistic by the end of my 20-day trip to southeast Asia!).

I flew Asiana Airlines, with the expected stop in Seoul, and landed in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) at 11 pm of August 4. It was an uneventful but very long trip during which I slept for very long hours (all that accumulated tiredness served me well this time) This time I broke down, and paid a US$75 fee to be received at the airport, be given VIP assistance with the arrival procedures, and be driven to my hotel (I probably paid too much, but for once I didn’t feel like spending two hours at the airport figuring things out). The ride through Saigon took a good time, and I was able to become reacquainted with Vietnamese traffic while somebody else drove; it was very nice.

If all goes as planned, early tomorrow morning my scooter will be delivered to me at the hotel and El Diablo will ride again!

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