Hello Ho Chi Minh City

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Asia » Vietnam
March 22nd 2010
Published: March 22nd 2010
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Greetings everyone! Tracy here (Carly, Abby and Jake's Aunt, Kris' sister, Judy's daughter, David's wife and Will and Helen's Mom).

I've decided to blog tonight -- because ... because, I am probably the only one who will do it. Why you ask? -- well, the majority of our tour group is out to dinner -- it's 7pm Monday March 22nd (we're all dead tired, but have to keep moving), but unfortunately Helen and I are alone in our hotel room. I am at the computer; Helen is in the fetal position. I suppose we were spoiled with our last trip to Vietnam and our avoidance of illness... hopefully Helen will get this intestinal 'welcome' over with tonight -- and be done with it on behalf of all involved!! She's a trooper! I think some fluids and a good night's rest will get us back on track.

At any rate, I have decided to entitle this blog -- 'what's the same and what's changed'. Obviously, this is our first impression of Ho Chi Minh City 2010 (based merely on 8 - 10 hours of observation) compared to our last visit with this vibrant city 2 years ago. So forgive us (me) if it does not hold true. As people roll in this evening -- I'll add to the list based on what they have to say...

(same) With lay-overs and time changes, it basically takes a long time to get 1/2-way around the world. We boarded our first flight in Columbus Ohio at 4:30pm on Saturday the 20th
-- went to Newark , NJ (2 hour flight)
-- then to Anchorage, Alaska (8 hour flight) we took a pass on the reindeer sausage
-- went on to Taipei, Taiwan (10.5 hr flight)
-- and then arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (3 hour flight) at 11:30am on Monday morning March 22nd. Where Sunday went ??? -- we will never know.

(same) Running obstacle courses in airports is a great way to burn energy and time during a lay-over.

(same) Our tour guide, Quong (questionable spelling) is lovely -- easy to laugh and full of information and pride in his city. He asks us to correct his English because he is still learning. This is always an embarrassment for me -- as we still stumble on Hello (sin chao) and thank you (cam on -- said like "Come on!!"). I'll admit to being completely tone deaf -- and the differentiations in Vietnamese language are always lost on me. For instance the word 'ba' can mean the number 3, waste, grandmother and poisoned food - depending on how it is said. I am laughing to myself because I am drinking a beverage called 'ba ba ba' as I write at this very moment -- and I'm hoping that it means '333'. It doesn't taste like grandmother.

Anyway, the Zalenskis are home now -- they went to 'Hoang Yen' restaurant. The food was "slim pickings" according to Abby, and Jake says "the rice had no butter or salt". We are all adjusting... The group sat in a loft in the upstairs of a packed restaurant and had at least 5 waiters. (same) Service is extraordinary - even when the food is out of our comfort zone.

(different) Street vendors are a little more willing to engage... and are less startled by our pale visages. More tourists and travelers in the street look like us. Friendly shop keepers want our business - not just a squeeze of Helen's cheek.

(different) Construction is going on everywhere. Big construction
Rooftop Coffee ShopRooftop Coffee ShopRooftop Coffee Shop

Helen proves once again that she can sleep anywhere
- with many recognizable names. For instance, there is a Sheraton Hotel towering in the city... buildings were not permitted to be built so high in the past. The skyline is changing.

(same) 'The Majestic' (our 85-year-old hotel) still turns down our sheets with orchids and chocolates.

(different) More uniformed security people are seen in the street -- specific tourist police and private security noted.

(same) Tiger beer cuts through thirst and heat according to Fred.

(different) There are more cars (upscale cars) in the streets, but motorbikes still dominate.

David and Will just came home from dinner with some local friends. I guess, BBQ'd goat is best when well done -- crispy instead of chewy -- according to Will. (I'll list this as 'different' because I can't believe that Will ate it!)

(same) Channel surfing at the hotel is just not fun according to Jake. We'll let you know if MTV Asia starts to grow on him.

(same) It's hot. 90 degrees plus today.

(different) There is an obvious increase in environmental awareness ... Earth Hour 2010 in our hotel, an EcoChic book in our room, 'Together the Green Earth' sign in our bathroom asking us to conserve water and electricity.

(same) Carly would lose her head if not attached. Her camera never made it out of Anchorage -- theories abound as to its where-abouts.

(same) Drinking coffee on a rooftop makes a person feel incredibly cool.

(same) A size 12 foot will never fit in an Asian Airline slipper.

(same) I'm the only one awake right now as I blog. I can't escape the feeling of gratitude for being in the middle of so much change and so much life. Thanks for signing in -- we'll be in touch soon.

Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


22nd March 2010

You guys should go national!
The pictures and your commentary make me feel like I am there. Keep on blogging! Get better Helen!
22nd March 2010

Happy to Hear
Dear Tracey - I'm very, very happy to hear of your safe arrival. I hope Helen will be feeling better soon! I rejoice to know you and feel anxious to hear of all your adventures. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Beki
22nd March 2010

WOW and Thanks!
Tracy, Thanks for the update is is so awesome to see what you are up to. What an incredible journey and so well documented. I am reading this after school on Monday. I will show the kids tomorrow and we will post something as a class. Can individuals write too or does that get to be too much??? Have fun and safe travels. Love and hugs- Mrs. Magee
22nd March 2010

What a blessing to hear that you all made it safely and that you are making so many new and wonderful memories. I do hope that Helen is healed and that no one else is feeling quesy. I LOVE to read all of your descriptions - another terrific blog, Tracy. You make the day start with sunshine!! Thank you and love to each of you, Nana
22nd March 2010

CARLY! missing you like crazy right now! i hope you continue to have a great time! sounds like a great experience from what i've read! i can't wait to hear all about it from you. and just informing you, i've written everyday thus far! (like a champ!) enjoy yourself! can't wait to see you again! kisses and hugs! <3
22nd March 2010

Hi Sheri
Individuals can definitely write -- Will smiled when I read that.
23rd March 2010

Thanks for the first of many neat updates!! We are so glad you are there safely (and Sam is very jealous that his fiends Will and Jake are there without him..how can this be??)
23rd March 2010

Girl, I miss you already too! I am having a great time though :) Oh, and I'll have you know that in the Tapei airport (after our 10 and 1/2 hour flight) I did some tap dancing to move my legs! hahah...well we're off today for our tour of the city ...tell everyone I said hello and that I miss them! xoxo Carly
23rd March 2010

hey there
Hi Tracy, what a treat for me to wake up to the opportunity to connect in with you and your travels!Your scrumptious way with words and the photos help bring me there. Best wishes to all! love around the world, Turiya
23rd March 2010

Sounds like a good start to your trip!
23rd March 2010

Hi, everyone! We have a few questions. 1)Do you like the food there? 2)Do you need to use a mosquito net when you sleep? 3)Are the beds comfortable? 4)Are you having a good time? We miss you!!!! We can't wait to read more! Love, Grade 2 and Miss Durbin
23rd March 2010

Anxious to hear from you
We were anxious waiting to hear that you were safely in Ho Chi Min city and so are glad to have that confirmed. We are looking forward to your next report.
23rd March 2010

Drop and give me 20!
Hey Carly....Just wanted to say hi and "drop and give me 20 Burpees" LOL. I hope you and your family are having a great, enjoyable and rewarding time abroad! We will keep you guys in our thoughts and prayers! Jeff
23rd March 2010

Abby! It seems like its been way longer then 4 days! so don't get to excited but i heard lady gagas coming to clevland and there is a pretty good possibility I'm getting tickets!!!!! AHHHHHH :) hopefully i will! But anyways i can't wait to you! love you girl!
23rd March 2010

you're awesome
you guys are awesome and quite an inspiration. our thoughts an prayers are with you. enjoy the trip be careful and safe. looking forward to blogs. tell Fred Z., to try and get in a few training runs, I think the olympic track in Bejing is open to marathoners.
23rd March 2010

What is that Jake? YUCK
I loved reading your entry, very humorous, and informative. What is that thing that Jake is holding up, I hope he isn't about to eat it? It was on a plate. YUCK! How about those Polar Bears making it to the final four. Pretty exciting. Cold and rainy since Sunday. I can't wait to read more. Hi to all - Lin Sloan
23rd March 2010

I miss you guys so much!!!I hope Helen gets better and is it really 90 degrees there?Love Maddie Egelhoff
24th March 2010

girl! i miss you SO much!! i hope you're having a LOT of fun!! we had tons of fun on the retreat but my last one wasn't the same without my carly!!! I can't wait to see/talk to you when you get home! i'm super excited! btw this blog...great idea! love you girl! i miss you like crazy..legit! continue to have an amazing time. :) hugs!
24th March 2010

Hello Hoags
Thank you for keeping this blog so that we could read what you are doing and how it is going! The pictures are great! I am teaching my class about Vietnam in 7th grade so I am going to show some of the pictures on my Smartboard also! What a great experience! Andy says hi to Helen and we all hope you have a great and safe trip! - The Kraus Family
24th March 2010

another world
you are such a great writer!!!! thank you for sharing your travels with us all as it is a one of a kind experience...what an awesome family you have.... all life and love and health and angels with you! mag
25th March 2010

I didn't see this one! That's awesome!!! You need to get tickets!
25th March 2010

Have a nice trip
I will show your pictures to the class! Pretty cool!Enjoy the trip!
25th March 2010

Hi gang, All is well her. I will catergorize my entry under "same". It is rainy and about 50 today (Thursday). We had a litttle sunshine yesterday. I can't appreciate 90 and sweaty. Loved the entry. Fred those airline slippers aren't the most masculine thing I've seen on you but they are very flattering just the same. Zake branch out and eat something gross in Griffin's honor. We enjoy continuing to hear about your adventure and miss you. The Murphy's
25th March 2010

Nice to hear from you -- hope you had a great birthday. i'm sorry to have missed it. Much love. T
25th March 2010

Thanks for writing
Well I'm so glad our pictures can be used in your classroom -- Wow. if you want to know anything specific - or see anything specific -- let us know -- and we'll try to get it on here. Hello to Andy
25th March 2010

Hi Maddie!
Yup it's 90 degrees here! I feel great thanks! (except for on the bus) I wish you were here! How are you??? I had to wake up at 4:00am today.Write soon!! :-)
25th March 2010

sorry it took me forever to write to you, my stupid computer wasnt working... haha and you know that i have no tolerence for that!!! But any who, #1 i MISS YOU!! #2 ohh jake you are to funny(the picture) #3 its good that everything seems like its going well!! oh.. and carly dance is NOT the same without you!! but lucky i went home monday so i didnt have tap lol love mady!
27th March 2010

To the 2nd grade from Helen
1)Yes I like the food here my favorite is fried chicken with steamed rice. (I've tried sesame spring rolls - great! pho - good. Squid - not so good. Rambutan (Hairy Cherries) - so so. 2) No mosquito nets. (But lots of bugs!!) 3)Yes the beds are comfortable! (thank goodness) 4) I am having a GREAT time! Are you??? Sorry i could not right back sooner! Stay in touch. Helen
29th March 2010

Will, Witch airline did you take to Vietnam ? How did you get pictures on the blog? And a one more. When are you going to Beiging? Ellie
31st March 2010

To Ellie; From Will
Ellie, We took Eva Airlines to Vietnam, once in Vietnam we took Vietnam airlines to get around, and to get to China, we took Air China. Obviously, we are in Beijing now, but only got in yesterday (Tuesday). Today we went to the Forbidden City and Tienamin Square, which my mom will blog about later. As for getting the pictures on the blog; we choose from the day's pictures every time before we blog... the computer makes it easy to do. We're going to the Great Wall tomorrow (Thursday).

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