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March 21st 2019
Published: March 21st 2019
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Lyn was up and off to work by 8.00am. She had school visits to get to along with the rest of her group. There are about 36 Kiwis here on this education trip all doing the same thing; visiting schools, attending seminars and generally promoting New Zealand's education system. Lyn stands out by carrying a blow-up Kiwi with her and waving it around whenever she can when the occasion presents itself. I'm pretty sure the Vietnamese remember her.

While she's out working I get to be a tourist and explore the city so it's not a bad life. This morning I walked to the Ben Thanh market, the big market that sells cut price stuff as long as you're prepared to haggle for it. I wasn't there to buy, just to wander through and experience the atmosphere. "You buy, you buy.....T shirt, bag, polo shirt, belt, sunglasses, shoes...." Constant appeals to the wallet as you walk through the narow aisles. At one end there are rows and rows of meat stands, the meat sitting in the heat of the day, looking bad enough to turn anyone vegan. All sorts of food and then as you walk further in, it's clothing, shoes, watches, bags, jackets, belts, nicknacks. I'd been there on other visits and it's a dispiriting sort of place. I don't think the people manning the stalls are the ones making money. They certainly have to scrabble for what they do make.

It would be hard to get a bigger contrast with the market than the Sheraton Hotel lobby where I met Lyn after her morning school visit. All her daily activities start from there. Marble floors, vaulted ceilings, art on the walls, quiet buzz of conversation from the bar/restaurant, fashionably dressed men and women (not me - shorts sandals and polo), doormen, the smell of money.

We were able to have a quick lunch together across the road with some other teachers at the Mon Hue before she left for her next visit. She didn't get back from that one until 5.30; a long day of being polite and promotional all at the same time.

I love the rooftop bars. Apart from being coolish in the evening with a nice breeze blowing through them, many have historic associations with that war, on the American side anyway. The Rex Hotel rooftop was a meeting place cum watering hole for war correspondents so I like to sit there and imagine the fever pitch of gossip, lies, propoganda, scandal and drinking that went on 40 odd years ago. Lyn and Maria had their tongues hanging out for a cocktail after their long day of school visits so ginger mojito's it was, while I had a stein of watered down Heineken - a Neineken better named. Very pleasant looking out over the city lights and there are lots of them.

Followed by dinner at the Lemon Grass, a well priced eatery with fabulous Vietnamese food, where we found that our eyes were bigger than our bellies.


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