We took a bus out of Ho Chi Minh City and were happy to leave and get into the open countryside. My basecamp during the war was in the country. As the bus rolled along, I recognized the Vietnam from my past, rice paddies with a background of lush green mountains. Our destination was Mui Ne, a tourist/fishing village 135 miles north of HCM City.
The bus dropped us in the middle of town and we walked up a narrow lane lined with small restaurants and hotels. Our hotel was near the top of the hill. Two gentle soft spoken Vietnamese women checked us in and informed us that the budget room we had booked had been upgraded, for some reason, to a villa.
We took a taxi to the fishing village section of Mui Ne and spent the day walking around. It was a hot day, but beautiful. We ventured down a lane where the locals lived and down to the beach near the fishing boats. The area was primitive and beautiful and trash and garbage was strewn all around.
We ate in a small restaurant. The women who ran it were very sweet and the balcony dining had a view overlooking the bay. We ordered fried rice and grilled squid, the most delicious food we’d eaten so far. In the middle of our meal a big rat entered one side of the balcony, crossed by our table and exited on the other side. None of the other diners took notice. Katie and I looked at each other, as if to say, what should we do? We were enjoying the food so much, we lifted up our feet up onto the chair rungs and continued eating. A little while later the rat returned and Katie screamed. He passed under our table and out the other side of the balcony where he had originally come from. The two European men sitting at the table next to us looked over and I explained to them that a rat the size of housecat just ran under our table. One of them mumbled something like, “Is that so?” and kept on eating. What can I say? Vietnam is beautiful, the people are sweet, and there are lots of rats and garbage.