Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Three Bs of Travel to Vietnam or . . .

Bad Flights, Bustling Cities, and Beautiful Girls

Well, the flight from St. Louis to Ho Chi Minh City is behind me, and I have been introduced to the Vietnamese Noodle Joint in the authentic style. (Delicious.)

The flight wasn't really so bad, but the plane felt more like a cattle car than human transportation. And fourteen hours in a cattle car with a splitting headache and no analgesics is enough to level anyone, I think. Or nearly so. Fortunately, I was able to buy some in Shanghai. (Where the airport employees spoke surprisingly broken English for such an international city, and I no Mandarin. Und mein Deutsch war completely useless, of course. Note to self: learn the language BEFORE traveling to a foreign country. Works better in that order.

Fortunately, once I got to Ho Chi Minh City, which some of you may know as Saigon, I connected with my most expert native guide. (Who speaks MUCH better English, thankfully.) So Mai Hong and I are together at last. :) And Saigon is quite lovely. And Mai Hong is most beautiful indeed. (Though she still doesn't believe me when I say that. Maybe in twenty years she'll buy it.)

Saigon reminds me a little of a cross between Cologne and Miami blown up to the size of Chicago. (A little bigger, actually.) The streets are narrow and winding. There are no traffic controls to be seen anywhere. (Might possibly have seen one at the airport, but I haven't seen one since, and it was late and I was distracted, so don't quote me on that.) So traffic flows in a remarkably organic but surprisingly logical fashion. And at about twenty miles an hour or so it works.

But the Maimi part: the entire city is pastels and stucco. Cheek by jowel and about a four story average. The storefronts are all open and doorless, much like some of the older parts of the Miami area that I've seen. But with roosters and endless processions of sidewalk cafes and noodle joints. It is . . . bustling. Crowded. Alive. Very very very green. Lots of fun so far. A little old and dirty, like any decent city should be. (Don't care much for the new clean ones. You can keep those. Or the ones with more tourists than natives. Don't need those either.)

But the best part is this . . .

Mai Hong is wonderful and seems to like me. :"> Wish me more luck. So far so good. :D

And I swear I will post pictures once I can figure out how to get a computer to talk nicely with the borrowed digital camera. (I still shoot film, but I borrowed a camera for the trip. Which won't talk to Mai Hong's computer, darn the luck.)

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