Friday, December 2, 2011

More on Vietnam

Well, there are traffic lights in Saigon after all. Went for a lengthy drive about town yesterday, or ride, I should say, as I was perched atop the back of Mai Hong's sister's scooter. I got to be her bitch! :D

If you hadn't gathered this from the last post, scooters are the preferred mode of transportation in Saigon/ Ho Chi Minh City. In a city of 8 million people squeezed into an area the size of . . . oh, who knows, but a small area, anyway . . . Central Park? . . . (Not quite that small) but in such a small dense area it only makes sense. New York could learn a thing or two. Traffic would flow a lot better indeed in Manhattan if the car/motorcycle ratio were similar. And if there were so few traffic lights. Yeah, you'd have to make the speed limit maybe 20 mph, but that's what . . . ten times as fast as a crosstown bus right now?

Anyway . . . there are traffic lights. And above each one there's a little clock that gives you the time to the next change. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

So I got to meet Mai Hong's younger sister Mai Tham and her husband Hung yesterday. And his nephew Khanh. Today I met her older sister Mai Hoa and her son. Cute kid, but got terrible motion sickness on the bus. Need to suggest the trail mix treatment. I seem to recall that helped my ex a great deal. The bus, you see, brought us to a smaller city called Cai Lay where Mai Hong's parents live. So now I've also met her mother, father, and paternal grandmother. All these things I've seen only in her pictures. Good times.

And tonight we will feast upon fresh crab. (You have to step over them to get to the facilities.) Things are different in different countries, you see. And in VN the crabs stay as guests in your kitchen before you invite them to be the main course. (A swan gets to sing a lovely song about that phenomenon in Orf's Carmina Burana. "I used to be white and lovely, and now I'm extra crispy."

Had a duck egg last night. And inside the egg, of course, was a duck embryo. Tasted much like very very tender chicken. You just eat the sucker whole. (Or you eat all of it anyway, one little piece at a time.) The albumen is QUITE a lot harder than that in unfertalized chicken eggs. It's as though the liquid parts of the egg become quite solid, but the "solid" parts become very very soft. Not bad, all told, if you can get past any initial reaction you might have.

Which is to say Vietnam is, first and foremost, a blooming food adventure. Well, second and secondmost. First it's a way to meet Mai Hong. Second it's food.

More later.

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