The four stragglers headed out in a taxi to visit a new high-end shopping mall. I thought it was probably built to serve wealthy Western tourists, but I found that most of the clerks who approached me - and you do feel like you're being stalked when you enter a store - could not speak
English. I wonder if there are enough wealthy Vietnamese to support the Versace, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and other well-known brand stores. I learned, much to my surprise, that Le Chateau is Canada's "shopping destination" -at least that's what the sign said. I would have thought it was The Bay or Canadian Tire!
On the not-quite-finished food floor is a fast food restaurant serving fried chicken, hamburgers and a very small selection of Vietnamese food. Surely this restaurant with its strange poetic signs cannot be aimed at wealthy Western shoppers!
We walked back to the hotel past scores of workers eating lunches of street food.
These small stands put out low tables and small stools, do their cooking right on the sidewalk and seem to do a thriving business. We had lunch at a large recommended restaurant. I ordered a Vietnamese pancake with shrimp and pork and a diet Coke. The bill was 77,000 Vietnamese dong which comes to about $3.85 Canadian.
The street food, which is overwhelmingly pho (noodle soup), must be even cheaper than that!
I am now in waiting mode - 3 more hours til the van comes to take us to the airport where we will arrive hours and hours before our flight. Tet, the Vietnamese new year, is a few days hence and Thuyen said to expect crowds of people returning to their homes for the celebration.
Here are the wonderful people I have spent the last three weeks with. Missing is Claudia who prefers not to have her photo taken. I will remember them all! with great fondness!
The group left early this morning leaving behind Mel and Claire and me who are flying out at midnight (ouch!) and Claudia who is continuing on to another Road Scholar tour through Myanmar.