For weeks, I’d been joking that when I reached Portland, I’d have difficulties working out whether I’d ever left Melbourne. I’d step off the plane and it’d be like walking along Sydney Road in Brunswick or Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.
I guess I was expecting Portland to be everything about Portlandia, but on a city-wide scale. And surprisingly, we actually haven’t been seeing that much of that side of Portland.
We’re in the Woodstock area of inner suburban Portland at the moment. It’s absolutely a suburban area, but in a totally different way to the type of suburbia we were experiencing at Ian and Cassie’s place in Beaverton.
There are so many differences here: the demographics, the public transport, the food… even the footpaths.
So I’m in Portland in Oregon in the United States of America right now. I’m here to see my brother and his wife. I haven’t seen him for almost four years or her for almost three. I won’t go into the details here, but it’s incredibly relieving to be back in contact with them.
Oh, and before I begin: if you’re looking for a post about our adventures in the downtown hipsterville that is Portland proper, this isn’t it. We’ve been in the suburbs for a few days at Ian and Cassie’s. The next post is where our Portlandian adventures begin. Not much interesting stuff happened in this first week, so I’ve condensed it all into a single post.
It’s over. It’s done. We arrived in Melbourne around 9.30 this morning. First on the agenda was a Melbournian brunch (it being difficult to get a grilled haloumi burger in Vietnam). Next was a replacement SIM for my spare phone. Thanks again for stealing my phone, motorcycling jerks in HCMC. Most inconvenient.
Many things happened on this journey. Most of them were food-related or involved buses or walking up seemingly endless flights of stairs at hotels and hostels. But I also learned a lot about myself: I feel substantial anguish at cultural disrespect, I won’t enjoy a tour any less if my shoes are falling apart, I have expensive tastes in suits, I can’t aim properly when throwing a water bottle in anger… the list is inexhaustible, really.
Yes. “A relaxing end to the trip.”
I got complacent. I got unlucky. I got my phone stolen on day thirty-three.
I think I picked up the flu somewhere. Muscle aches and exhaustion plagued day thirty-one for me, resulting in one or two flashbacks to when we were in Melaka two years ago. (The good news is I didn’t try to ride a bicycle this time, mostly on account of being in Vietnam and not being suicidal.) In spite of this, and in spite of my mounting irritation with Can Tho, our time in Can Tho managed to end well.
We’re in Can Tho now. It’s the biggest city in the Mekong Delta and the most southern point of Vietnam that we’ll be visiting. Coming here is a first for both of us, as when Sarah was here with Kara, they had to rush from Da Lat back to HCMC at the end of their trip.
Can Tho is known for its floating markets and fresh produce due to the Delta’s role as Vietnam’s food bowl. Rice, vegetables and fruits leave the Delta for the rest of Vietnam via Can Tho, so the city has a reputation for fresh food. Not that we’ve really had much of it so far.
After the thrilling (and tiring) motorcycle ride on day twenty-six, we’ve gone for a more relaxed pace for our last two full days in Da Lat. It’s not a city of very many sights, with most of the sights lying in the surrounding area (hence the motorcycle tour), nor is it one with very many restaurant recommendations, so sleeping in and strolling around didn’t mean we were missing out on much.
The first priority was the Crazy House, with the other first priority being food. Actually, wait, no. Maybe food is the actual first priority. I’m going to talk about the food first.
A HA HA
A HA HA
Oh crap, we’ve got less than two weeks left here. Better get on with things. Good thing day twenty-seven was the best day of the trip so far.
We’re already outside Hoi An, on a sleeper bus destined for Nha Trang, where tomorrow morning, we’ll change for a bus to Da Lat. Considering we booked this through one of Vietnam’s most reputable internal travel agencies, Sinh Tourist, the sleeper bus is actually the least comfortable we’ve been in while over here.
It’s all about the leg and foot room. But hey, why would you need room for full-size half-Anglo feet when you’ve got this kind of lighting?