18th June 2009
Saigon, Vietnam
10°45'32.23"N 106°39'45.09"E

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Nightmare, nightmare, nightmare. More Later. Peter is now starting his recovery following a marathon five day drinking session with the worst influences in the entire world. For some reason I thought that the it was the Negri Sembilan State Football Team coming, and wasn't looking forward to having to keep a bit of an eye on a lot of young boys on the loose in a strange country - it was actually the Negri Sembilan State Veterans Team. And trust me when I tell you that veterans drink FAR more than any bunch of young boys.

Their first day started badly. We'd arrived in Saigon a few days earlier and had found suitable hotels with sufficient rooms. Praba was in the first taxi that arrived at our hotel and he, Peter and I went to check them out as the others started to arrive and congregate at our hotel. Hotels we'd checked out and had been suitable and had plenty of rooms had no rooms or not enough rooms available. Then we hit on the hotel we stayed at for a couple of nights the first time we were in Saigon - nice enough, cheap enough, only a couple of hundred metres from where we were and they had 14 rooms. Check in was an absolute horror show. It took forever, registering passports etc, general confusion who was sharing with who, who wouldn't share and wanted their own room, then just as that was sorted, they were one person short. Went through all the passports again. No. Fortunately Praba had made a bulk booking on Air Asia and had the itinerary so they could tick names off. Two checks, one a hands up and one against passports and it was decided that someone had added up wrong - it's said on the way to the airport, that someone had managed to count the bus driver in with the the total number. D'oh! Have to say I've never seen reception staff handle a situation so well, and I told them so. They said it's OK, we get a lot of big group bookings, but I doubt that they get many like this, especially as it was nearing the time when the sundial passes the hour line and everyone was chomping at the bit to get out and find a bar. After an equally organised lunch and drink, everybody retired to their rooms for a sleep and shower in readiness for their first big night. I declined the invitation to join them for their evening of fun.

Next day was the first match. I didn't go along because there was going to be some huge party/drinking marathon afterwards which didn't appeal to me for some reason. Peter even managed to get himself into the official team photograph which was shown on TV and in several newspapers. They played Ho Chi Minh United 1st team in the first half, then a combination of 1st team and veterans in the second. The first half they had no hope - they were almost all old enough to be father of the opposition players. The second half wasn't much better, but it sounds as though everybody had a lot of fun.

Not only were most of the Vietnamese a lot younger younger, but in the second half they were different to the ones who had played the first half and had fresh legs. Can't remember the results, but I think they didn't do too badly, and if the smile on Peter's was anything to go by when he got back, the party was a good one too. The next day it was sight seeing day. We'd already been to the Chu Chi tunnels, but it had been interesting enough for us to go back. Of course it was all very, very organised - tunnels in the morning, city tour in the afternoon.

Things tend to have a way of not going as planned when we're involved though.

The tunnels were great fun, despite a bit of karaoke on the bus {shudder}, but we stayed there longer than we should have. We also stayed at the Disabled Association lacquer ware workshop and sales room longer than we should have. Back in Saigon for a very late lunch, which of course went on far longer than it ought to have, there was hardly any time left for anything of the city tour. We went to the old post office which is a magnificent building and a lovely old church, but then it was time for shower and drinking. Again. Do you see a pattern forming here? The next day the team played the Vietnamese National Veterans team - Praba needed to do some shopping for souvenirs and presents, so we hit the big market instead of going to the game. I hate markets, except for food markets. The traders quote you ridiculously high prices, 3 or 4 times what they would accept, and in the heat and humidity I just can't be doing with it. I find the equivalent of the $2 shop or down market department store where the price is marked, there's no discount for morning or special price for first customer of the day. You pick, you queue, you pay and you go.

It's not that I can't haggle - I'm pretty good, even if I do say it myself, I just can't be bothered. It's too hot, I don't want to be there. Where's the nearest $2 shop? But I have to admit if you want souvenirs, those shops only have a very limited selection if any at all, so off to the market we went. Did I say I was good at the haggling? You should see Praba go. We made a great double act. I honestly think we managed to fleece one or two of them between us judging by the looks on their faces. Peter just stood off to one side giggling at the crack team in action. So, one more night of drinking, then the whirl wind that hit Saigon twisted it's way back to the airport and on to Malaysia. That's about the time the nightmare began.

I'm not a big drinker, never have been. Once, maybe twice a month - if that. Sometimes months without any at all, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that I drank so much I can't remember getting to bed. Seriously. It's like I have a switch inside my brain. I get a bit tipsy, then the switch clicks. I know that if I have so much as one more mouthful, I'm going to cross the line and make a fool of myself or be sick or do something equally humiliating. I'll leave the drink on the table, or if I'm at home pour it down the sink. I hate to waste anything, but this is good waste. Peter went out with some boys from Manchester (he was on the Coca Cola) and I settled in for a night in front of the computer with about 2/3 of a bottle of vodka and a big bottle of coke. This was to become the 4th time in my almost 46 years on this planet that I don't remember going to bed. When I woke up, my face was wet. Oh, no. Water. Leak. Ceiling - I put my hand up to my face but it was sticky. Oh, not water. As I opened my eyes I realised my head was hurting - not hangover hurting; for some odd reason I've never suffered from a hangover in my life. I mean hurty hurting. With eyes half open I could see blood all over the pillows and sheets. Oh, bugger. Head hurty. Face hurty. Mouth feel funny. I went to the bathroom and could see blood on the floor near the sink. I looked in the mirror. D'oh! Eye swollen to tennis ball size, a lump on my forehead even bigger than my eye and the worst split lip I've ever seen. And blood, dried and fresh and gooey stuff which seemed to be cream. What a mess. I cleaned myself up, cleaned the floor up and made a cup of tea which I couldn't drink because my bottom lip was so swollen. I sat wallowing in self pity until Peter woke up. He'd come back at about midnight and found me on the floor. He said that by the way the furniture was scattered, and where I was laying, he figured that I'd gone over and hit my face on the solid wood dressing table, rebounded off that and hit the other side of my face on the equally solid bedpost. He'd cleaned me up with rubbing alcohol - ouch, that must have hurt BIG TIME - put some antiseptic cream on me, put me into bed and cleaned all the blood off the floor in the room. The only good thing about this whole affair is that it must have hurt like hell when I did it, and I'm thankful that I can't remember it.

So, here we are. Two days on, about to head for Nha Trang with me looking like I've gone 10 rounds with someone a lot bigger than me - the swelling hasn't gone down yet, but the bruising has come out.

My face hurts.