Rodents & Resolutions

We caught it. We weaved excitedly between the huts toward the common room. Nick was carrying the cage and I was cussing and taunting the rodent inside it as it jumped and hissed and threatened us with it’s disease-ridden teeth.

The Little Fucker, as I fittingly named him, ate holes in both my bags. He devoured the zipper in my day pack and chewed a huge gaping hole out of my big backpack totally compromising its structural integrity. It even munched on the netting of Nick’s side pocket on his bag. This rat left me no choice but to devise its death.

We arrived at the common room and Nick held up the cage they had placed in our hut earlier that day. I was clapping and yelling, “Look! We caught it! We caught The Little Fucker!” As the staff smiled confusedly, Silvio, the French-Canadian resort owner, stifled out of his room, “Ah, you got him!” He passed the cage onto a staff member, mumbled something in Vietnamese, and the caged vermin disappeared through the kitchen door never to return.

It’s possible we ate it. The meals at the resort were communal and sometimes we couldn’t pinpoint the mystery meat on our plates. But the food was good and we heard through some friends that rat is quite delicious so, hmm, maybe.

During our four days at Jungle Beach our bags were eaten and our legs were massacred by sand fleas and mosquitos. Nick lost a pair of shorts and a toiletries bag. The meals were shared, the thatch huts were no frills, and the showers were icy. Yet all those events seemed minor because it turned out to be one of our favorite experiences yet.

Jungle Beach is a secluded resort about 45km north of Nha Trang in Vietnam. Its pseudo-primitive huts overlook the South China Sea and boast a backyard of jungle clad mountains. Every morning we woke up to gentle sunlight seeping through the thatch windows and the sound of the waves splashing on the sand. Every evening we fell asleep beneath a mosquito net to a symphony of frogs, crickets, bats, and sea. The beach was deserted except for the folks at the resort and a few local kids and fishermen. We slept on the sand, we slept in the huts. We enjoyed some of the best sleep we’ve had in years.

Nick, myself, and a few of our fellow traveling buddies trekked up the mountains and through some angry thorn bushes that ripped through our tender western skins. We climbed up steep rock faces knowing that if we fell we’d likely be impaled on something painfully sharp and infection-inducing. We were searching for langurs and lorises but our friend Kenny was the only one of us to actually spot one.

Tired and bloody, we made our way to a nearby waterfall for some swimming and diving.

New Year’s Eve was spent gathered around a roaring bonfire with plenty of bbq, and local rum. When the sun disappeared the horizon twinkled from the tiny lamps on the fishermen’s squid boats. At midnight resolutions were made as Kongming lanterns – also known as sky lanterns – were set free to fly over (or sometimes crash into) the sea. These whimsical floating lamps are commonplace throughout Asia for various celebrations. We didn’t make resolutions this year but we figured that seeking out future employment when we return is a reasonable goal.

Despite the little losses, it was a pretty magical way to ring in the new year. Not so much for The Little Fucker, though. 2010 definitely wasn’t the year of the rat.