Trip Start Dec 06, 2006
Trip End Jan 06, 2007

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saigon ...

Pork chop and rice with café sua da x 2 again for breakfast. It is a well-known fact that eating a lot of pork chops and related when in Vietnam is actually good for your health - and I'm all about good health.

After breakfast we went to the US Consulate to get more pages for David's passport. Talked with a Vietnamese man from Arizona - home for the first time since he left in 1979 at age 10 years. His parents stayed in VN and since his father worked for the Americans his Dad surely went to prison and the family likely very poor. So the Viet-American man is about 37 years old and is having difficulty understanding his father and relatives (his Mom died about 5 years ago). He teared up (me too) as we talked about his family's hard life. He says his father is proud of him and (unlike many Vietnamese parents) is able to say so.

Next day we took a short (day-long) tour of a tiny part of the Mekong delta area. Bus half full which was nice. Went to My Tho and got on a boat to Ben Tre. Pretty comfortable. Visited a coconut candy factory, place where they grow a lot of fruit, and so on, but I slipped away and checked out the daily life scenes next door. It was really good to be on the Mekong River; and really good to be in the green of Vietnam - again.

The best part was at the end when we got on small boats (5 tourists and 2 women paddling) to slip down some of the narrow canals. My mate, Ron was on river boats when he fought in Vietnam. Pretty tense, I reckon.

Leslie had not realized we were going on these little boats and she gave me the evil eye when she realized what was about to happen. I made some clever remark and my sweet little wife said, "Shut the f___ up!" By the end, though, she liked it. Getting from boat to boat was pretty amazing. This is not your litigious avoid all risk or I'll sue you for my own careless stupidity American-style setup. Anyway, no doubt about it, Leslie continued her tradition of keepin' on truckin'.

Impressions of Vietnam (Saigon and Mekong, only) this time around: People were very friendly. Nobody ever tried to short-change us. You have to pay attention all the time because merchants, shoe-shiners, etc. will get what they can. Many, many people very persistently selling everything imaginable on the streets. Very persistently. Saigon amazingly crowded and the number of motorcycles beggars the imagination. Foot and street traffic all about accommodation - if you hesitate people will push past you, but nobody is aggressive (though often insistent). If you do not hesitate, people will accommodate you. Things work, which is not always the case in SE Asia. In the sense of valuing work, cleanliness, and politeness, I felt culturally close. Overall, I experienced the Vietnamese as extraordinarily polite. I hope to return.
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