Friday, January 21, 2011

Vietnam - Day 3 (we recover)

View from our "new" hotel window
We spent the morning slowly getting our energy back up after the day before. Kelley and I had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel buffet while Kevin & Kyle scouted out cheap pho shops. (pho is the traditional Vietnamese breakfast) We moved all our stuff over to the new hotel and then talked about what to do after our bike trip to the Mekong.
Most of the morning was spent booking flights & a hotel to a beach destination - Phu Quoc island. We ate at a cheap Thai restaurant for lunch and finally left our little backpacker neighborhood to go do some shopping.
Vietnamese take Christmas decorations very seriously.

This little kitchen was literally open to the street

The food in Vietnam was one of the best parts of the country. And the availability of it. I had gotten cautious after my stomach scare the night before, but everything looked and smelled delicious. So many tiny places on the streets that offered cheap, cheap amazing food. A bowl of Pho costs less than a dollar for a local, maybe $1.50 - $2 for you & me. I was especially insanely jealous of the fruit vendors - I only wish people were wandering around my neighborhood selling tropical fruit. I love this sort of dense urban environment where everything you need is within a couple blocks.

This is a picture of your traditional fruit vendor - an older woman with baskets of fruit balanced on a wooden stick over her shoulders.

A hint of the insane power/phone lines. Some of them must have had a tangle of hundreds of lines going into one uh...transformer? Onto one telephone pole. Unfortunately we lost that photo with Kevin's camera and I forgot to take another.

Sorry, but we couldn't help but laugh at some of the contrasts between tall foreigners and petite Vietnamese. (did I mention they made me feel like a huge giantess?)

Ah yes, the scooters. First of all, why don't the kids wear helmets? Every adult was wearing a helmet and NONE of the kids were. It was so scary, especially when your taxi was weaving and swerving around and you were just sure a scooter with youngsters was about to go down.
We crossed the street you see above, its like what....12 lanes of traffic? Yes, you wait for a break in the traffic, but ultimately cars are always turning and scooters just seem to be going every which way. They even zip down sidewalks during rush hour. Ho Chi Minh didn't really feel like a "walking town" - generally kyle and I love taking long walks in big cities, but the traffic was so scary and crossing the street so exhausting, we actually walked way less than normal. (not to mention the stress of worrying if someone was going to ride by and try to grab my purse)
Litchi seller
More traffic. There are occasional bikes, but most everyone has switched to scooters. We went to the main nearby market and did some souvenir shopping first. Somehow I forgot to take pictures - probably because everything is jam packed and hot and its not arranged artfully like other markets. Just too much stimulus to even think about a camera.
After shopping, we wandered back to the central area where Kevin had lost his camera. A girl who had been selling fruit when it happened was on the same corner and told us it had happened four times that day already. Crazy.
After some healing minutes spent discussing plans in which we would dangle empty purses until they got stolen, then rip the thieves off the bikes and beat them up, we headed up to the Sheraton rooftop bar for some drinks. It was a gorgeous view and we stayed till after sunset.

Seriously, did I mention how much they like Christmas decorations? The lights were incredible, my kids would have gone nuts. Much better than anything I've ever seen in the USA. After our drinks, we walked to a nearby restaurant "Temple Club" for dinner. They were full so we sat on red velvet couches in the lounge for dinner. The food was amazing as usual.


Shauna said...

The picture of that tourist is amazing!

I love reading these posts. Thanks for letting us travel with you through photos and story to Vietnam. :)

Misha Leigh. said...

I'm so jealous of the Xmas decor - there was NONE in RSA. OK, an occasional random tree or picture but nothing like that! I love the picture of the Litchi seller and your healing moments made me laugh.

The food - as always - descriptions on your blog always make me so hungry.

Can't wait to read more.

Kelsie said...

I too love it when you travel because it means: Travel posts! I never thought I wanted to go to Vietnam but I'm sitting here drooling over the food and thinking that I might just have to add it to my dream destinations. Keep 'em coming!

Vale said...

Kari, I love all the pictures and like the other comments feel like I get to travel through the country with you as you explain your trip. I love that you share so much about food, culture, frustrations and funny stories. Can't wait to see the rest of your trip. Great pictures. I guess I always picture rural Vietnam but never the urban areas so this helps me picture it fully. What are the masks on people's faces while they scooter-ride?