On Sunday, my first morning back in Vietnam, Tien and I went to our old breakfast place. It was OK, but honestly it's lost its sentimental value with the realization that it's not that great of a restaurant. It is very convenient though. After breakfast we went back to the hotel room and did some online stuff and fell asleep for a long, long time.
When we woke up, Tien's friend Trinh and her boyfriend Dat were on their way to visit us with a couple of motorbikes. Tien and I hadn't eaten dinner yet so when they arrived we went out to find some food. We'd planned on getting pho, but Tien forgot about that and we ended up going to KFC. I was amused by this, expecting their menu to have interesting variations not available in America, but I didn't see anything that was out of the ordinary. I quizzed Tien on what KFC meant and who that guy was, and she had absolutely no idea. Not much of a surprise there from a girl who didn't know McDonalds or Starbucks until she went to Malaysia, and this is one of the things I love about her.
After dinner we headed out into the night traffic and instantly got separated from Dat and Trinh. Saigon traffic can be pretty crazy and Tien isn't used to the big city so she isn't assertive in her motorbiking. This later lead to us putting more effort into figuring out how to get me a motorbike license in VN. The four of us on two bikes cruised around the city a little bit in rain amounts varying between none and pouring, but it was warm so it wasn't all that bad. We did get drenched though, and decided to just call it a night.
That night I found it very hard to sleep, most likely from how long I'd slept earlier that day.
Monday morning we woke up and tried to find a place different from the usual place we eat breakfast, but couldn't find anything before our hunger took priority and we went back there. On our walk we saw a minor motorbike crash. I haven't seen many traffic accidents here, and none have been bad since people tend to go pretty slowly, but this was the first of two that I saw that day.
Trinh and Dat came back to the hotel and we four headed out to a park where Trinh liked to go a lot when she still had free time, Bình Quoí 1. It was labeled as a tourist park, but was essentially a portrait photographers playground. There were barely any tourists there, but what there were plenty of was beautiful girls dressed to the 9's posing in front of cameras. There were also several couples who were getting their engagement photos taken by professional photography crews, complete with off-cam lighting, props and makeup artists. The park was laid out with paths leading past backdrop after backdrop. A waterfall, a cart, a cyclo, a ruined brick wall, a ruined wall with pillars, a stone with flowers next to a pond, a bench on a lawn, a bamboo swing, a barrel and ladle, a causeway across a pond, a canoe in the pond, water lilies, flowers growing in vines up trees, stone statues, so on and so forth. This made it easy for photographers to play musical backdrops with each other, shuffling from one to the next to put their respective couples into the various scenes. Honestly it was pretty brilliant, and it didn't cost anything for us to get in either. I assume they made their money off charging professional crews and selling food and water at the eateries that were scattered throughout the campus.
The four of us spent an hour or so walking around and taking photographs, then headed back towards downtown. We stopped on the way back and I got some absolutely terrible spaghetti carbonara while Tien enjoyed delicious Vietnamese food. I resolved not to buy anything too culinarily distant from VN food from now on.
On the way home I saw a blind beggar holding a cane and a hat with his eyes rolled back in his head kneeling at the side of the road where hundreds of motorbikes were passing by.
Back near the hotel Tien and I tried to find a pharmacy for my malaria meds but couldn't find anything. We resolved to find it later and went back inside to take a rest. I fell asleep and didn't wake up for several hours. My sleeping schedule still hadn't adjusted yet and it was taking a toll on my daylight hours and my energy.
We went briefly out with Dat and Trinh again to grab some dinner, then they headed home while Tien and I retired to the old Ruby Star.
Today Tien and I sat at the market where her family store is and talked a long time about language, world culture and classical music. I tried to also explain some things about computers and networking, which was preceded by my saying that I was intrigued by the problem of ...Continue reading …