1. BUGS!!! - We have found some amazing bugs here.
For one, a GIANT Rhinoceros Beetle. It was when me (Mike) and our friends out here went river rafting in the mountains. Don't worry - I'll get to that later in this post. Anyway - the beetle was huge, and you could pick it up by the horn and it would go all frozen... it was amazing. I had pics, but my phone got stolen. So did the pics.
Another - when we went to Ba Na Hills, we found a giant pill-bug the size of my thumb. It was awesome! Though, when we first approached it, it curled up into a tight, cherry-sized ball, and didn't really come out again. The camera was out of batteries. :(
Another - when we went to Sapa, I attracted SEVERAL beetles. One, I named "The Millionaire" - it was bright, shiny gold and blue. And I mean GOLD. It was awesome. Another, I named "The Regular" - he clung to my pants while walking the trails. Every time I picked him up and let him go - he flew a circle around me and landed on my pants again. He probably thought I was a flower, on account of my excessive beauty and sweet aroma. Ha ha. We also found a big black beetle near the lake that we named "The Tank". Big, solid, constantly crawling over everything. He was awesome. I do have a picture of him below.
2. GOATS!!! - yes, you heard right. Goats.
I didn't think Vietnam had "mountain goats" per se, but whether they were some guy's herd, or naturally occurring, it doesn't really matter. When me and Xavier were Kayaking from Cat Ba Island during our Ha Long Bay tour, we saw a herd of goats literally climbing a cliff. I would not have believed it if I didn't see it. In Xavier's words: "God, I'd like to report a bug..." Ha ha ha. It defied gravity - an experienced rock-climber would have had a tough time with it. They literally scaled a rock wall with little or no hand-holds. I was amazed.
3. RIVER RAFTING!!!
A bunch of expats around Da Nang decided to go on a river-rafting trip in the mountains near Ba Na Hills. There's a company up there that runs a section of river. I was expecting it to be tame - more like a mild "float" down the river... I was quite wrong. Basically, like most "rivers" in the mountains of Vietnam, it was more of a narrow bob-sled track peppered with boulders all around. It was nuts. We had no paddles, they just set us loose and we bounced, rocked, and careened our way down the narrow deluge. Maxi was my partner, and I think we were too heavy for their 2-man rafts. At one point in the river, there was a nasty drop-off and we totally flipped over. I rammed my shin against a rock and it bled like a... well, let's not go there. :) Anyway - it's finally healing, but it was nasty. It shook me up too because, unlike rafting in the US, there were no professionals present. If someone had broken a leg or something (which was entirely possible) they would have been SCREWED. The "guides" didn't know anything about first aid, and they were too scrawny to carry a fat westerner down to the lodge. After hurting my leg, I was very hesitant to get back in the raft, but - there was really no other good way down. Luckily there were no more drop-offs.
When all is said and done, it was a really fun trip and I'm glad I did it. Plus, chicks dig scars and I'll have a good one from it... problem is, the only chick I care to impress now is Risa, and she thinks I'm an idiot for going. Ha ha ha.
4. Swimming at Bac Ma National Park. So - there is a national park near Lang Co (which is near Da Nang of course), and one day (while Miranda was here), we drove several hours by motorbike to go to a "waterfall" that we heard about to go swimming. It was a long, hot, death-defying trip - passing trucks nearly clipped my bike / knees SEVERAL times - but when we first got there... well, it wasn't really a waterfall. :)
In standard Vietnam style, what they called a "waterfall" was actually a semi-dammed-up area of river that people go swimming in. That said - it was freakin' awesome! A super beautiful stretch of river coming out of a canyon covered in mist... with deep amazing pools of crystal clear water. Woo! And friends of course. :) Observe the pictures.
5. ... I can't remember anything else that would fit nicely in this post. Maybe I'll update it later if I remember more. Until then - peace out!