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Published: March 22nd 2010
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 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.
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