Friday, November 28, 2008

Tan Loc/Back in HCMC

I should tell you that the Very Long Drive I had talked about was long because we drove down to Can Tho (4.5 hours) then continued on to Tan Loc which is a little island - we took one ferry to get to Can Tho and one more to get to Tan Loc - which was 2.5 hours away from Can Tho. And then we pretty much turn around and drove right back.. to Can Tho, thank goodness, not HCMC.

The next day, I headed back to HCMC by myself. This was a pretty rushed trip for me since I had to get back to work the next day :( I took a local bus back to HCMC, which dropped me at a terminal about 10 miles outside the city, then I had RUN RUN RUN! to get on an even-more-local bus - the sort of rickety bus that literally did not even stop for passengers to get on. It would just kind of slow down and good luck getting on!

I really only managed by the kindness of strangers who spoke a smattering of English and could understand my mangling of Vietnamese place names.

Back in HCMC, I had time to spare so I visited the Reunification Palace, which was awesome. A real trip. Think: Get Smart meets Austin Powers... except, I guess, if you think about the historical context, not very funny. The whole place is frozen in the swinging 70s, with upstairs meeting rooms filled with Chinoiserie, a game room (a game room!), and crazy basement military intelligence rooms. And the phones. The place was filled with retro phones. Loved it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hangin' out in the Mekong Delta

OK, I really shouldn't just post unflattering pictures of Vietnam, so here is a picture of my lovely drip coffee and me relaxing on a hammock. Vietnamese <3 hammocks too! Not just the Cambodians!

Can Tho

The next day, we took a drive down to the Mekong Delta, and it was a Very Long Drive. (And, my camera battery had died, so for my entire trip in Vietnam I could only take photos with my iphone. Sob, sob.)

Once out of HCMC, we were really starting to get into the countryside. We stopped by a roadside cafe and had a great cup of Vietnamese coffee and then - this is the exciting part - we had to use the bathroom. I was led into a tin shack, and quickly sussed out that I had to pee on the concrete floor, which was conveniently slanted on one end towards a little hole that opened out into the nearby stream. There was a tub of water you could scoop to "flush". I wanted to cry.

When I was done, I found out that the cafe proprietors had kindly let us "out-of-towners" use the SHOWER to pee in, cos it was properly covered. THIS was the real toilet. I didn't want to cry anymore.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I went to Vietnam and I forgot to blog afterward! It's been too long since I've travelled...

Let me start with an ode to the traffic to Vietnam:

Motorcycles swarm.
Cars lurch, powered by their horns.
Traffic lights are
Confounding - and only a suggestion anyway.
Zebra crossings are decorative. So pretty.
Just go.

Below is the view from our hotel room.

I loved it - straight into some weird airwell right out of Brazil. Mind you, the hotel itself was a not-very-inexpensive hotel that was perfectly nice and clean on the inside. But the view! Ha. I figured I hadn't come to HCMC to sit in my room and look out the window, so I could live with it.