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Published: November 15th 2009
It's always nice to know that you are headed to a tropical destination during winter, but to know that it will be -25c when you are away is even sweeter. With that, we said good-bye to Edmonton.
After a full day of flying, we finally made it to Saigon on Saturday night. Other than a very long 14-hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong, things went off with out much hassle. Shauna didn't get any sleep on the Hong Kong flight, so I was bracing for the worst of "Dragon Lady" (aka Shauna) upon our arrival in Saigon; however, she handled everything in stride. While I was putting the bikes together at the airport, she arranged a mini-van to downtown. It was now 11:30 pm and even though the center of town was only seven kilometers away, we took the easy route out with the taxi. We had the taxi driver drop us off at one of the squares downtown. No matter how many times I do this, being dropped off in downtown "anywhere" at midnight is a bit unsettling. I could see that Shauna's patience was drawing to an end, so I decided that we would go with the
first "reasonable" hotel we found. Fortunately, for all involve that was the first one we looked at.
The next morning it became quickly apparent that heat and humidity would be both our friend and foe on this trip. It doesn't take long in the morning before the foe part becomes reality, but with that heat and humidity comes some fabulous produce (my first of many food plugs). As every year passes, I seem to be traveling more and more for food. With Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, this will certainly be the Food Tour. However, little was I to know that this tour would also be the Massage Tour.
We tried a ninety-minute lotus foot massage last night. While I thought it would be similar to the foot massages we had in China, I was in for a pleasant surprise. After sipping on some tea and nibbling on some watermelon, a young Vietnamese lady led us to a darkened room with very soft yellow lighting. The room was filled with about a dozen large dark sofa chairs. At the same time three other customers were having there joints, backs, and feet twisted, cracked, and stretched. It actually looked somewhat
The first part of the session involved soaking my feet in a tub of hot water and flower petals. While the soak was good, the fragrance from the flowers set a tone for the remainder of the session. Next came some kind of cold vegetable, sliced and placed over my face in small strips (it actually seemed similar to cucumber, but I didn't taste it). After a fifteen minute soak, the massage started. First came the feet, which I had expected. What was different with this massage, though, was that it was much more than just the feet. For the next 60 minutes, my little masseuse would work every (almost every) part of my body. This was the first time anyone had literally walked all over me. Shauna has always done that, but only in a figurative way. ;-) The other maneuever that so impressed me was when she arched my back while supporting nearly all my weight. By the end of the massage, Shauna and I could have almost floated out of there.
No blog entry to Southeast Asia would be complete with a paragraph on food. While it was been no surprise that the food
here has lived up to its prior hype, it is interesting to see the diversity of cuisines here in old Saigon. Everything from Italian to Middle Eastern is available here. The portions here are also noticeably smaller, which North America should take note.
We will head to Cambodia on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see how Shauna finds the heat and humidity of the ride. Because of this, I don't think there will be any problem getting her up at 4:00 a.m. After 11:00, it's like cycling in a sauna in this part of the world. Until then...
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