>"Saigon" sounds much more exotic than "Ho Chi Minh City"

>When I saw we were in Ho Chi Minh city, I thought, ho-hum, I’ve been here before. But then when I thought about being in Saigon, it was exciting. I wanted to go ashore.

“He’s been isolated” – it’s a phrase I’ve heard before. It sounds like some kind of futuristic punishment.
To be isolated means you are in quarantine. You and your roommate are locked up separately in different cabins until 48 hours after your symptoms of gastro-intestinal ailments disappear. Yummy. Who was isolated but two thirds of the trio, and I took one for the team and played tea time. So the rest of the band could have a wonderful day ashore crawling through Vietcong tunnels. I hope you had a great day guys.
So I arrive at tea time at the stroke of 3:30, and Daniel is behind the bar and frantic on the phone searching for me thinking that I am late. Great. There are 2 guests, Daniel, 7 waiters and 2 door greeters. And me. I decide to relax a bit. I get a bottle of water and hang around chatting to Daniel, who, surprisingly, since our breakup I hardly ever see. Shark, who is in charge of Tea time, comes over. Ok guys, that is enough chatting, get to work. Is he serious? I wonder. I sit down at the white Steinway, looking for inspiration. I decide to be irreverent and play as many pop tunes I can think of. Which is not many. I start with Lenard Cohen’s Hallelujah. It has many verses and entertains me for awhile. I switch to jazz and in a moment of desperation as to what to play I start “What a Wonderful World.” Which surprised Daniel, because apparently there is quite the scene in the movie Good Morning Vietnam involving that song and lots of Napalm. As we sit there with the 340 degree view of the Mekong river. I have never seen the movie, personally.

After tea time I somehow got stuck on board, because nobody could switch my safety card around so I could leave the ship. That was annoying, and made me especially cheery for our 9:30 – 12:30 am set.

The good news is, I got to go ashore at 12:30 am and there was a mini party on the pier.
Here it is by daytime, and it was there all night – the town itself is 30 minutes away, a mere $1 on the back of a motorbike.
I listened to my Grandma, who told me on the phone last week “no more motorbikes!” so I stayed on the pier with the rest of the crew.

There was Karaoke, and little plastic chairs and tables and Tiger beer and shrimps and all sorts of weird delicacies, as well as $5 polo shirts and $20 watches. The Filipinos were in heaven, with the karaoke and good eats.

I took this blurry picture right before my “fun” camera died.

With photoshop I circled the menu item I like the best.

Fried pig’s uterus with cauliflower.

I don’t know about you, but the cauliflower has really sold me on this dish.
I wonder if they were thinking in Vietnamese, “Hey, I know, let’s take the most disgusting part of the most disgusting animal, and add to it the most disgusting vegetable, and then fry it!”

That wasn’t the most interesting of the food going around, though. The Filipinos were eating these eggs – chicken eggs that had been fertilized and maybe 21 days ripe. You cracked it open and ate it with a spoon and it looked a bit yolky and a bit furry and weren’t sure if it was chicken or egg. Did I mention you add salt. I think they even bought a whole bunch to take back on the ship with them.

The next day I woke up early and went ashore with some friends. We walk out of the pier, and this is the first thing we see:

We find a taxi to take us to town. The roads are packed.

All I wanted to do was see the market. It’s ok, I have been here before and seen all the sights.
The market is huge and I gave myself free license to shop.

All of the guys were crazy for these dresses. They are not exactly my style, and now that everyone has one it will probably be quite the fashion parade tonight.

Sorry Mum, but I didn’t buy you any fabric. I was worried it wasn’t very good quality.

It took me awhile to realise what’s going on here. Manicures and Pedicures!

At the seafood market everything is squirming. They keep the fish in water in buckets on the ground and they remain barely alive.

I bought a lot of enamel art. They look almost like tiles and were $4 each. I went a little crazy there.

Women are not allowed to touch or speak to monks. If I want to give him something, I must leave it within his reach, or pass it to a man to pass to him.

How quaint, I thought, look at those ladies selling fruit on the street.
Well the fruit lady is chatting on a cell phone, something that I don’t have.

As Becky says, the hats serve a real purpose, and are not just for tourists.
See, everyone has one.

I bought some knock-off books.
I brought as many reading books as I could to come out here, and now I have finished them all. So I will have to do with these photocopied ones for now, until I find a bookstore!
They had a great selection! $7 for a lonely planet, and $5 for a regular novel. They had The Life of Pi, some Paulo Cohello, On The Road, among others.

I bought one for everybody – cute little shoe bags, a dollar each (I’m sure I paid way too much).

As we sail away from Vietnam, they play “What a Wonderful World” from the loudspeakers on deck. They do this everytime we sail away, only today it seemed somehow more appropriate.

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2 Responses to >"Saigon" sounds much more exotic than "Ho Chi Minh City"

  1. >I think first of all I miss this Daniel break up thing. Secondly wow so much has happened!!! And well that fruit was mangosteen. What a site you have seen!

  2. Ginnie says:

    >I had suspected the Daniel break-up, which you have now confirmed.In the meantime, you are having quite the life! And I’m loving it through your eyes.

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