After weeks of counting down I finally arrived in Vietnam to meet up with my lovely friends Laura and David. The plan was to meet in Nha Trang and travel to the South from there…..unfortunately due to a delayed flight, a long visa queue and falling asleep on the bus I missed my train and had to book a night bus later that evening. At the other end of the country Laura and David were having similar problems due to the Vietnamese New Year, Tet.
We were all finally reunited in Nha Trang early the next morning at our hotel….to our surprise my cataplexy behaved itself and I stayed firmly on my feet when I first saw Laura and David, maybe I wasn’t happy to see them after all?? Only joking of course I was and we had a great 2 days in Nah Trang which first started with sun bathing on the beach, followed by a crazy booze cruise.
The tour started off fairly civilised with sunbathing on the deck and jumping off the boat to cool down.
We had anticipated a party day so we were slightly gutted when most of the other people on the boat did not seem quite the party type…..we were not the only ones to notice this and were soon invited to join the other boat and shunned upstairs by the staff to join the the other “young westerners”. This is where the madness began – the crazy but lovely tour guys kept encouraging / forcing us to drink beer (well maybe force wasn’t needed). They were all very excitable and would randomly shout out sayings such as “up the bum no babies” and “up the bum, don’t tell your Mum”. The beers flowed well accompanied by a delicious lunch and banter with our new friends.
After lunch we were hurried downstairs to watch the Funky Monkey boy band. It was pretty random but there voices were not bad and they were very entertaining.
After a few well known songs it was our time to join in…..most people were dreading this. I on the other hand was looking forward to a good singsong.
After all the singsongs the music got turned up and everyone was dancing on the tables followed by free drinks at the floating bar. By floating bar I mean a man in a float in the middle of the sea pouring out disgusting free shots – this wasn’t quite the bar we had expected but it was free and bloody hilarious!!
After a lot of fun in the sun we were headed to Saigon on a nightbus. The night bus was an event in itself with our bus driver being probably the most angriest Vietnamese man I have met so far. We got on the bus and he started shouting at us because we were late….and that he was going to kill us but he eventually calmed down and started laughing hysterically.
After a 10 hour bus journey we arrived into the busy Saigon and spent a day exploring the city dodging the hundreds of motorbikes as we crossed the road.
In the afternoon we visited the war remnants museum…..many photo’s with so many sad stories to tell. We left feeling quite sombre and sad thinking about the brutality of the war and its many civilian victims but as we left we were soon uplifted by walking along the buzzing streets as the evening began.
The next day we headed to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta – while scoping the streets for somewhere to stay we were approached by a crazy smiley Vietnamese lady. Within minutes she had won me over and we soon followed her to her guest house…..luckily it was a bloody good decision and thanks to the lovely Ms Ha we had an incredible next few days.
Ms Ha and her lovely assistant took us on her canoe along the river for sunrise and to go to the local market.
If it wasn’t for the photo evidence I don’t think I would believe that the sunrise really looked like this….but it did. The whole morning was incredible…..made even better by Ms Ha who is a bloody funny lady.
By lunch time I was exhausted so my had my lunchtime nap on the boat joined by David who was also pretty shattered.
In the afternoon we went on a epic 4 hour motorbike ride to the home of hundreds of storks at Banglang stork sanctuary.
The cutest lady who was desperate to have her photo taken
After an amazing but hectic few days we were off to Phu Quoc Island to relax on the beach.
With all the time to lay on the beach during the day it was time to party in the evening and celebrate David’s birthday.
There were lots of bars along the beach and the roadside but they were all pretty empty and quiet….untill we arrived that is! To our excitment we found a bar which allowed us to play our own music…..within the hour we were not only djing but behind the bar serving drinks too!
Drinks flowed well and we ended up at some underground bar with the locals dancing until the early hours of the morning. It was all going well until our American friend fell over and hit his head on the side of the bar. Miss Marshall came to the rescue and glued his head together whilst standing outside the bar. Good job she did as it would of been a taxi, boat and bus ride to the nearest hospital.
In the morning we were all horribly hungover…..so while Laura sunbathed on the beach myself and David died quietly in the room.
Up until this morning my cataplexy had been suprisingly well managed and I probably was only having 1 or 2 cataplexys a day. Which is very unsual when I am in the company of good funny friends.
Maybe Laura wasn’t so funny anymore?! Ironically my cataplexy has become my indicator to how funny someone is. However this is not a valid test as it hugely depends on whether I have been looking after my body. I often and easily forget the extent that my lifestyle has on my health….with no work stress, little alcohol and regular sleep my outbursts of cataplexy are relatively low.
BUT of course my friends are in Vietnam so I wasn’t going to be a party pooper……and after large volumes of alcohol was inhaled alongside minimal sleep it was only natural that the days to come were going to compose of me laughing so much that I collapsed. For those of you who are unfamilliar with Narcolepsy it is a rare neurological condition affecting the brain’s ability to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, which can cause a range of symptoms such as excessive sleepiness and cataplexy. Cataplexy attacks involve a temporary involuntary muscle weakness in response to emotions – for me this is always laughter. The severity of my cataplexy attacks can vary from mild facial weakness to the buckling of the knees and collapse whilst still remaining conscious.
In the morning whilst the three of us disected the night before I think I had approximately 50 cataplectic attacks in 2 hours – all of which were the violence aggressive type resulting in me being completely paralysed in a variety or random and ridiculous places. Some were bloody funny such as falling in the sand right after Laura had put sun cream on my back which meant I had inches of sand stuck to my body and at least 3 when I was coming in and out of the shower wearing a towel only…..falling to the ground acting as if I was at a nudist beach. I don’t know who I felt sorry for more David who had to keep running out of the room as I lay starkers on the floor or Laura who had full view and tried to cover me up. Luckily we are good friends!
These examples were all pretty funny and entertained us for a few days…but I also had some more dangerous ones when in the sea. Again Laura and David came to the rescue, taking all my body weight to prevent me from drownning in the water. I was gutted as really wanted to go water skiing but I decided to be sensible and save that for another day.
During our last few days we explored more of the island and found paradise a perfect way to end our time on this island.
Sadly after a wonderful few weeks with Laura and David it was time to say goodbye as they returned back to London.
I LOVE reading these posts Grace. Your photos are fantastic too. I don’t think you’ll come back! Xx
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