Time for a bit of catching up...
In an earlier post, I mentioned that G was very impressed by the girls, especially because he has friends back in Toronto who have been talking about making this trip for a long time and are no closer than they were years ago. Annika shared G's post on Facebook with me:
Sunday morning as I got ready to load the bike, the girls told me that we (they) had been invited by one of Easyriders guides join him and his client in seeing some of the local sites and visiting a local M'mong village. They had accepted, and wanted me to go along--if I wanted to. I asked for some time to think about it, and breakfast a bit later told him that I would join the group. As everyone took off, I couldn't find my keys (duh!). I told them to go ahead, thinking it was a straight shot and that I could catch up.
You'd think that by now I'd learn...
By the time I took the wrong road way too far, and realized that I was on the wrong road, they had stopped to wait for me and sent Philine back to find me. Since I found them first, apparently rode right past Philine, and held the group doing us a favor up about 20 minutes, possibly longer. Very frustrating for them, I'm sure. Very embarrassing, and frustrating for me. I do not like people having to wait on me.
The village belongs to the M'mong people (not to be confused with the H'mong, who are American allies in the American War and – according to what I've read – are still persecuted but human Vietnamese government for it) where the guide gave us a brief Vietnamese history lesson and explanation of the many peoples of Việt Nam. We then were invited to enter one of the homes. The ladder in the foreground is brought up at night and when the family is not home, to keep animals out.
In a second home, we were greeted by the family of four: father, mother, and two young girls. Theirs is a matriarchal society, and as girls are born, rooms are added to their houses, so the longer the house, the more female children they have.
We spent some time learning about the family, and then it was time to get back on the road. Next stop, waterfalls...
I opted out of the waterfalls, because I was sore and wanted to get to Buôn Ma Thuôt. Having neglected to ask where the Easyriders stay in BMT, I got on tripadvisor.com and started looking at the various hotel offerings in town. In the review of the Eden Garden Hotel, I read that this is where they stay so I headed there. The girls and all showed up a few hours later.
The previous day the guide had noticed that my rear tire was a bit low, so using my compressor (with which everyone was quite impressed) I pumped it back up to 50 psi. Upon my arrival in BMT, I noticed it was again a touch low, so I headed across the street to a repair shop where they found both the tire and the tube or intact and that the valve had a very slow leak. They repaired it for US$1.50.
Since my lower back was again bothering me, I arranged with the front desk for an in-house massage at their Spa for half the price of the tire repair. After 20 minutes in the steamroom the "masseuse" came in, led me out, took off my shorts, and put me in a tub where she proceeded to give me what G has described as a Vietnamese bath. While I stood with my hands raised, she soaked me down completely before rinsing and drying me off.
As instructed, I got up on the massage table on my stomach. I thought I made it very clear to the front desk that I wanted a deep tissue massage, but after less than five minutes of light to medium "massaging", she told me to turn over. She then reached under the towel and grabbed me, asking, "You want?" and making a move with her head toward what she had in her hand. "500,000 VND (~US$25)." Although I am a relatively healthy, definitely straight male, I declined. She's then proceeded to continue the "massage", though I could tell that's not what she thought I was there for. Less than 40 minutes after stepping into the steam room, I was back in my hotel room. Alone.
I returned to the front desk and again attempted to make it clear that I was looking for a "real" massage. They apologized profusely, and offered to have a masseuse come to my room. I agreed. Hahn showed up about ten minutes later. She was very professional, and an excellent masseuse and I gave her a big tip! I wish I could bring her on the road with me because with one of her massages every evening I would have no more back issues. If you are ever at the Eden Garden Hotel, ask for a massage with Hahn… You'll be glad you did!