The Mystery of Chimney Rock
Posted October 25, 2008 Comments(2)
On another sojourn down to Ninh Binh for a countryside wedding, involving characters from a previous adventure, I came across a book. “The Mystery of Chimney Rock”, number 5 of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series, a mere 121 pages and yet 36 different endings, truly amazing. It brought me back to my primary school days when all i could read were these books. When I had supposedly grown out of them by the age of 11, I simply stopped reading rather than being subjected to the linear constraints of traditional novels. I at least wanted to pretend I had some say in what was going to happen.
In the hotel lobby we stayed at in Ninh Binh, there was a small mediciney cabinet on the wall stuffed with books, literally. Opening the sliding cabinet door meant shredding some of the books that were squeezed inside. It looked as though it was filled with books from travellers that had left them behind, “The Mystery of Chimney Rock” stood out, possibly because of the gaze of the cat’s eyes on the cover. The staff were genuinely taken aback that we could be at all interested in this cabinet of decaying books. For some nostalgic reason I guess I built up some sort of resolve that meant this book must come into my possession (“my precious” like). The staff must have read into this and made sure that I could only bargain it down to 30000vnd from 40000vnd, in full knowing that surely nobody in their right mind would perhaps even notice this cabinet let alone want to own an item from it. I felt slightly cheated seeing as I had never paid for a CYOA book, but it was a small price to pay for something that had to be.
It was an entertaining light afternoon’s reading in any case, even if I did manage to die several times. However, the “other” mystery of chimney rock is that it obviously had a previous owner, whose details were on the inside cover. I wonder if this person has the full set of CYOA books, but is now only missing number 5, and their only reason to live is to recover this book. If this did happen to be the case, and if anybody happens to know a person called Emma, who lived in a Mount Waverley, Melbourne probably as a 10 year old in the late 80’s and travelled to Vietnam and left behind a book that they are now continually searching for because they have no other reason to live, or perhaps would just think it neat to have it returned to them, then let me know.
(p.s above photo taken from my new house, I’m in a loft with a little balcony that overlooks what you see in the picture, I like it, it makes me feel like I’m living in a hub. Directly below the balcony I’m standing on is a little alleyway rice stand. It means I have to enter and exit my house outside of lunch hours as otherwise I can’t get my motorbike out, it also means I get to sample homemade, if somewhat oily, Vietnamese dishes right on my doorstep.)