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March 22nd 2019
Published: March 22nd 2019
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Amena HotelAmena HotelAmena Hotel

Big room
It has been an unusual experience to be so far away from NZ while all the grief, anguish and outpouring of goodwill for the victims and wider affected community of the mosque massacres has been going on. There has, as far as I can tell, been little or no coverage here in recent days on TV news stations and no Vietnamese we have spoken to have brought it up. The news feeds on line are keeping us engaged and aware and I can say that it is rather eye watering at times to read the international acclaim for our PM. Certainly, for this, the right person in the right place at the right time irrespective of what anyone thinks of her Government's performance in other areas.

Here, Lyn's work goes on apace. More school visits, agent meetings today, a workshop this afternoon and evening, another workshop tomorrow morning (Saturday) and then we leave for Hanoi tomorrow evening.

We are staying at the Amena Residences and Suites (a hotel) off the main posh hotel area but only a 5 minute walk away to the centre of the CBD through some interesting streets. The Amena is great; fabulous staff, big rooms,
Majestic rooftopMajestic rooftopMajestic rooftop

Saigon River beyond
clean, good breakfast, infinity swimming pool, and reasonably priced. I recommend it. The footpaths are something else. I think Tim's farm race is actually in better condition than most of them although these ARE missing the cow pooh. Walking along them really means lifting the feet and keeping an eye on the next broken piece of concrete or the next pothole. Across the road are a slew of massage places with very pretty young women outside handing out flyers, nail parlours, bars, small eateries, tiny shops etc. Lyn got her nails done the other day at one of them. Two young women attended to her. They loved her hair and she engaged them in conversation as she does. When they found out she was a teacher another couple of employees came over and practiced their English with her. They charged her very little and she was so worried that the two who had worked on her wern't getting enough out of it that she came back to our room, got some more Dong together and went back over to slip it to her two new friends where the boss couldn't see it.

While she was at work I met a friend, Ms Tam, from Vinh Long where I had been last year. We had a coffee down by the Saigon River. She's well qualified, talented, multi-lingual in Viet, English and Japanese and is looking for work after the language school she had a financial interest in closed earlier this year. It does seem that businesses are easier to get off the ground here if one has a powerful backer, as in someone in the local community with a bit of pull politically. Otherwise it can be difficult to get through the labrynthine bureacracy and paperwork without greasing the wheels somehow.

We sat at another rooftop bar last night at the Majestic Hotel on the riverside. It's a grand building, really gussied up, built when the French were in power and with some beautiful fittings and decor. We sat up top with our over-priced drinks (they don't do happy hour - too posh for that) and enjoyed the ambience, the view and the cool breeze that wafted across the balcony. And then it was off to a Vietnamese restaurant that Lyn had discovered for some exquisite Viet food at a great price. It is very easy to eat well here for very little! Speaking of which, I saw an image in the mirror today -"S..., whose is that puku?!!" Suffice to say that the ab core and a few other full-body tightening up exercises have begun.

Additional photos below
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Plentiful electricityPlentiful electricity
Plentiful electricity

Walking back to our hotel
Opera House Opera House
Opera House

More walking back

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