#18 from SE Asia — the long ride south, and a marriage proposal

#18 the long ride south
From Hue, Vietnam
February 19th, 2010
First, look at this dessert photo.  Almost all of these are fresh fruit conncoctions.  You have the lady fill up a large glass with them and ice.  You do not stir it up.  That is so you can taste the individual flavors.  I had no idea what many of the things I was eating were, except that they were simply delicious.
Well, there are often downs between the ups.  And it just so happened that when I left Hanoi, the light mist I rode into continued to get heavier each day.  Three days into the ride south, it was steady rain, day and night.  Is was not supposed to be like this.  I tried to console myself by remembering when I rode across Ireland I had 120 straight hours of rain AND I was camping outside.  It was a major job to keep set set of clothes and my sleeping bag dry.  There was not much to see or do along this part of the VN coast.  It was cold and wet.  The big challenge was finding any food during Tet, and a place to sleep.  But I did manage to find a room each night with a private bath and hot water.  It took me 6 days to go thru the $75 I took out of the ATM.  Some of that was lack of opportunity to spend it.
After I had the bike accident, my right knee did swell up the next day.  Damnit.  But I dug down deep and I heard the voice of my highschool football coach, Big Ken Sypult.  “SUCK IT UP WORKER!  GET OVER IT!  TOUGH IT OUT!”  And so I did.  And later, I forgot about my knee hurting, probably because so many other parts of my body were also hurting.  But thanks Coach Sypult.  When I heard that Coach Sypult was dying, I thought about visiting him.  To thank him for stuff.  But I did not.  I do regret that.  I wonder if, when I am on my death bed, any of my former students will think the same.
I finally had my first flat tire in 2000 km.  Amazing that I got that far.  It was the rear tire, and that takes more work.  It was late in the day and raining.  I had to hurry.  Across the road was a locked up shop.  There was a home next to it.  There was nothing else on the road for many 100s of meters.  There were no lights coming from the home, and no motorcycles or any other vehicles around.  It looked to me that no one was home.  In front of the shop was a covered cemented area.  A good area to fix the flat.  So, thinking I would be bothering no one, I rolled the bike there, took all the gear off, flipped it upside down, and began pulling off the tire.
Then the lady comes out.  She is in her 40’s, attractive, and well dressed.  I apologize.  I show her the flat.  She understands.  Out comes her two daughters.  Then some aunts I guess, and many other women.  Maybe 10 in all.  Not one man.  A few of the women have obviously been drinking.  I guess they get to do that during Tet too.  They all proceed to watch me in detail fix my flat, while asking me questions.
Oh.  Now I must be VERY PROFESSIONAL about this.  I cannot flub up in front of them.  So I go about it.  I find the glass that has pierced the tire and show it to them.  They nod.  I have worn this tire bald.  I am surprised that I got this far.  So I pull out my replacement tire.  I notice that the tube has five patches on it.  Yes, from the time I rode across Poland’s dirty dirty roads.  Time for a new tube.  They watch me intently, picking up and examining every tool I use, commenting on each thing I do.  I notice that my rear brake pad has cracked.  It will go any moment.  So I show them that and replace it.  They nod in understanding.
I flip the bike over and test it.  Everything is working.  I start loading up the bike.  The matron brings me a pan of water and soap to wash my even dirtier hands.  I do.  Then she points to my ring finger on my left hand and says something.  Is she asking me if I am married?  So I shake my head.  Then she grabs an attractive woman about her age, maybe her sister or cousin, and points to her ring finger.  There is none.  She pushes her toward me while shouting something.  All the women explode in laughter as the sister/cousin blushes and tries to break away from the matron.  The matron holds her still and motions for her to sit on the back of my bicycle and go riding down the road with me.  More cackles of lady laughter.  They are clearly having a good time.  The sister and I just stand there sort of embarrassed as all the others continue saying things that are very funny to them.  So I get down on one knee and I propose to her in English with my arms sweeping high into the air and ending in a prayer position with my head bowed.  Clark Gable could not have done any better.  Hell, do they even do this here anyhow?  It must have worked because they are all roaring with laughter.
I waved my goodbyes, for it is getting late and I must go.
For I have kilometers to pedal before I sleep
Kilometers to pedal before I sleep…

5 Responses to #18 from SE Asia — the long ride south, and a marriage proposal

  1. the lady will be at your home in bloomington when you arrive.

  2. Oh Dwight that pic could be in Nat. Geographic. Spectacular. I’m thinking you were supposed to spend the night at that roadhouse. Can’t take a hint can you?

  3. DW!!! Jeff is right… I hope there is more to this story you aren’t telling us!

  4. Yeah, this must be the edited for all audiences version.

    But that picture of the dessert concoctions is incredible.

  5. You’ll never be able to write a best selling romance novel (fiction or non-fiction)~! It also appears that it’s so rainy there, your kindling was too wet (no fire in the lower belly), the accident disabled the libido, long periods of bicycle seat contact so limits circulation that the real reason for falling on your knees and putting your hands together was that God would save you in this moment of lustful hopelessness! At 84, I swear, with a bevy of 10 waiting to fix “my wheels, hub, and all of the above (or below?), this cock rooster would have crowed thrice and won at least bronze! It’s with great disappointment that I close.

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