I was hurtling down the rode in Dong Nay Province, past vast swaths of rice paddy, when it suddenly occurred to me. I cocked my wrist to accelerate and pulled up alongside Tyler.
“I think I forgot what fresh air smells like.”
Add this experience to the “You know you’ve been in Saigon too long when … ” list.
I’d joined a motorbike caravan to the Golden Scorpion, one of the recreational swimming holes out in Dong Nay Province, about an hour outside of the city. I’d been told there was fresh water and a bridge to be jumped off. What we found was a well-organized riverside park dotted with thatch-roofed cabanas, ringed with water slides and diving platforms.
The water parks in Dong Nay are no Western wonders, but that’s what makes them so much fun. The water slides were not engineered for comfort, but it’s pretty amusing to watch your friends’ get slapped around the second curve of the too-short slide while you nurse your own bruised hip at the bottom.
And while life vests are required, safety restrictions are pretty lax. No one scolds you for tipping over your friends rented boat, and the workers don’t intervene when you decide to launch yourself backwards and headlong down a water slide.
For these and many more reasons — including the dirt cheap beer — the trip to Dong Nay is well worth the mind-numbing headache you’ll suffer on return to smog-choked Saigon.
The Golden Scorpion. Entry: 10,000 VND. Life vest rental: 20,000 VND. Boat rental: 15,000 VND. Bottle of Saigon Green: 9000 VND.