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Published: February 28th 2018
Arrived last night after 32 hours of elongated travel, mainly because my two Vietnamese greets swamped me with hospitality.
The Canberra and Singapore flights were fine. aisle seats both times, which I like and the middle seats empty for both. The transit in Singapore was a wee bit of a drag; nearly 6 hours and in hindsight I should have gone into a lounge and stretched out. Next time.
Arriving at Than Son Nhat airport in Saigon I was met by Miss Cuc and Miss Ha both holding up signs, if not in lights then in big bold capital letters, for Robin House. Yay!
Miss Cuc had a bit of English, Miss Ha none, me no Vietnamese, but with lots of smiles, selfies and sign language we did ok - I think. I thought then we would head for Vinh Long three hours away but first we stopped for coffee, then we stopped for shopping then we stopped at Miss Cuc's sister's place for tea and I was introduced to two of her sisters a brother and a friend; I kept getting told how young I was and how handsome and that a very beautiful sister would be home soon. "She 48 and not married". I assured them many times that I had a very beautiful wife at home but it didn't seem to make much impression. Fortunately we left before the very beautiful sister appeared.
On to Vinh Long with our driver doing sterling work. Truck and bus drivers seem to earn their licences by learning how to lean on the horn and neatly straddle the centre line without actually hitting anyone. Not that I saw anyway. Surrounded by thousands of scooters, trucks etc and on bumpy roads, we got clear of the city and headed south west. I was naively amazed at the amount of garbage on the roadsides. I can't remember it being so obvious last time but it was as if everyone simply dropped their junk out of their cars as they drove along. It makes you really appreciate the waste transfer systems in NZ even if there seem to be a growing number who can't or won't afford to use them.
We stopped at a. road side eatery for an early tea. I wasn't really up to it and the liver in my soup (I think it was liver) was hard to get down. The coffee was good.
The car raced on into the dodgem traffic - through small roadside settlements, past paddy fields, broken down shacks, smog, shrines, and small towns, finally across a long bridge into Vinh Long City. We were right on the Mekong Delta now and the city is crisscrossed with arms of the river. Big barges and boats heading in both directions like a hotter, more humid version of the Rhine.
And so to the AGES Language school building in the centre of town. It's a newish, 5 storey place. I live on the top floor in a stark room. Tiled floor, small desk and chair, mattress on the floor, no sheets, a manrobe sort of affair, a bathroom, no towel (thankful I bought one with me), and that's it. Also A/C.
Downstairs are classrooms, basically empty rooms; the bottom floor is more like an office with a desk and some computers for the students listening classes.
I popped half a sleeping pill and turned out the light after 36 hours on the go. Slept for about 6 hours. The mattress, which is about two gym mats in thickness, was ok.
Miss Tam, one of the owners of the business, who also lives in the building and manages the school, took me to a floating eatery this morning ten minutes walk away. We had omelettes and coffee. It was very tasty. She is a young woman with good English. She is going to get me organized today with a SIM card, some food and whatever else is essential.
I'm using an Apple computer for this blog and don't know how to get my photos on it so there may be none for a while.
PS My phone charges have been through the roof since I got here and that's with no calls and hardly any texts. I can't work it out but maybe just having it on roaming, which I did when I was hoping to get texts from Lyn etc yesterday, was the reason. Bloody annoying.
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