Day 12 - Kham Duc to Kon Tum - Bye bye Toto
Someone was blasting 'Enter Sandman' by Metallica from their hotel room as we left, somehow out of place reverberating down the shabby muddy streets of a small Vietnamese mountain town.
The riding was through beautiful lush green valleys, despite the overcast weather my spirits were very high! Mid morning we stopped at more waterfalls and crossed squealing rickety bridges.
On returning to the bikes a group of young local men had taken a keen but entirely reverential interest in my vehicle. On the ground next to them was a bag. A mysteriously twitching bag.
On seeing the two little paws sticking out the near side, I realized it was a small dog. I then spotted a bowl of herbs, a cruel looking blade, and a rusty old cooking pot. On sensing my will that these objects had nothing to do with the contents of the bag, one of the locals pointed to the dog and then into the pot. I walked around see the dog was having some kind of fear fit, upon asking I was assured that it was healthy. Just frothing and hyperventilating with terror then. As we saddled up the dog was hoisted away into the jungle to become lunch.
By mid afternoon everything was getting very hot, dry and dusty. We stopped at one of the traditional tall communal houses that the local tribes use for meetings, where I spotted a chained up pet monkey playing with a boy, gnawing the kids knuckles.
We stopped near this hill, where Binh said he was involved in a battle with the Viet Cong. He fought on the side of the Americans, firing his AK47 into the Jungle. He is not sure if he killed anyone, he had friends that were shot or otherwise injured and died. I could see that although he was not emotional, he just didn't want to be probed about it much.
We stayed in a decent hotel in Kon Tum. In the eve we went for a Viet-Valhallian cook it yourself BBQ feast of deer, jungle pig, rice, popadom and some pigeon/random bird soup.
Binh told me of his previous jobs, he had worked at the Hoi An docks loading cargo ships by hand when the war entered his life and he was given a gun to go fight for the Americans. I didn't ask too much about the war, as I previously mentioned Binh would close up quick, but after it was over Binh had simply returned to the docks. When it came to farewell I tipped Binh the equivalent of 15 dollars, with tears in his eyes he sincerely (but incorrectly) said 'you are very kind' in his croaky old way.* It cut me like a knife that the old boy would be saying such a thing in that way to a lucky young git from another world, just passing though.