Sunday 10 February 2013

The People You Meet When Travelling

007 here – in my hand that is. It’s the first cocktail on the list – ‘007 Bond Martini’ – vodka, gin & a touch of ‘Martini’, shaken, not stirred.
‘What?’ cried R, ‘I thought martini was the cocktail!?’
Yes, but there’s some bastard bottle of spirit called martini that some lesser mortals add to a martini with the express intention of ruining the vodka & gin by ‘smoothing’  it out – completely takes the character out of the martini in my opinion.
Anyways, we were on a mission here of the 007 kind – that is to get through all 28 cocktails on the cocktail list. I mean to say darling, if one has to be holed up in the middle of Viet Nam at a resort one might as well make the most of it. Having said that however, we have to endure a positively atrocious something called a ‘Belle Melon’ – I suspect it was made with midori and cream, as well some awful blue thing that tasted and looked like ‘Harpics blu loo’ toilet cleaner. When I baulked – well, actually made gagging noises and actions – R said with a smug look;
‘Ah, you don’t complete the challenge if you don’t drink it all!’
Bugger! I tossed it back in one go. So here we were in the Hoi An, cultural centre of Viet Nam doing some ridiculous cocktail challenge but really it was strategy to keep us warm in the unexpected sub-arctic temperatures. Yep, we’d forgotten to check the weather conditions before we packed and were a bit surprised to find tits freezing off weather – well, I may be exaggerating slightly but I was in woollies.

We were joined by other equally half frost-bitten Aussies all here on a ‘too good to pass up’ Groupon deal. The surprising thing was that nearly all of us were well travelled, not first timers, just out for a spot of R&R. The deal included daily spa treatments which the blokes, all looking rather embarrassed about the whole thing, commiserated with each other about their ‘papaya wraps’, facials, too small paper undies none the less marked XL that they were asked to change into.
Kate & Tristan Anderson on a river tour with us
 Kate & Tristan were on their honeymoon from Melbourne, having met each other doing late gap years in Europe. Tristan regaled us by mimicking his eye popping moment on the masseuse table when the male masseuse leaped up and straddled on top of him to massage his back – awkward. Kate and Tristan had been married on the family farm and as Kate was getting dressed into her bridal gown at the nearest hotel she received a text from Tristan asking her to look into the antique cheval mirror in the room. ‘Every day for the rest of our lives you will look into this mirror and remember this day and how much I will always love you’ – he had bought the cheval mirror for Kate knowing she had always wanted one and had it especially placed into the room she would use to get ready – sigh, so romantic!
Then there was Kimon and Sondra with little Caris from Perth who had been globetrotting many times including a recent trip up the Amazon, Galapagos and to the Ice Hotel in Lapland. They were off to mingle with Dianne Fosseys gorillas in Rwanda which we thought was such an excellent idea that we fully intend to follow them in December for my 50th.
Kimon told us a funny story about a South African mate of his working up in the remote outback town of Australia called Leonora on a five year tenure as the town’s G.P. (doctor) – you see the Australian government doesn’t quite trust foreign doctors to tend to city folk properly so they give them a trial by fire in remote areas first and if they don’t kill anyone there then they’re allowed to practice in the city. Anyways, a heavily pregnant aboriginal lady came in to his clinic for a check-up with her husband. Later the doctor noticed his wallet was missing off his desk. It had more cash in it than usual because the doctor had done a bit of Botox on side earlier in the day. Immediately he picked up the phone and rang around the pubs, asking the publicans if anyone had been holding up the bar, sprinkling around a few more fifty’s than usual. Sure enough the pregnant lady's husband had been in there drinking up a storm and shouting the whole bar. The good doctor then very diplomatically went to speak to the ‘Elders’ about the situation. He just wanted his cards back because it was so inconvenient to have to replace them all, never mind about the cash. The Elders didn’t like his chances because of the loss of face. The next time the lady came in for her maternity check-up (there was no other doctor in town for her to go to) the good doctor said to her ‘Look, I know your husband took my wallet and I’ve spoken to a witchdoctor friend of mine in South Africa and he says if your husband doesn’t return the wallet within 1 week bad things will happen’.  No wallet appeared and he heard on the grapevine the couple had left town, fleeing to nearby Laverton. He also heard that the husband had been involved in a very serious car accident just after they reached Laverton….

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