Saigon is a big big city (over 6 million people) which you can definitely tell from the thousands of motobikes, crowds, congestion, smog, and power lines weighing down every lamp post. It does have its charms, and we're working hard to find and enjoy them.
Of course there is the food. The Pho Bo has been excellent; the side plate of basil, other leaves, lime, and chilis is usually large and makes the dish incredibly aromatic and tasty. I have even been able to find a few places specializing in vegetarian food (com chay) since once a month almost the entire country eats vegetarian(?). At least that's what someone told us but we never learned the true history or culture behind that. Some of the things they can make glutinous rice look like are astounding. Iced coffee can be found on almost every street for around $0.36 a glass. It's very strong and flavorful (almost chocolaty) and they mix it with sweetened condensed milk.
Christmas shopping has been fun. We got a bunch of stuff from the markets here that looks really interesting, but I can't tell you what it is.
Crossing the streets here was (at first) scaring the living daylights out of us. Now it's actually kinda fun. Think Frogger. There's nothing quite like 200 motobikes, maybe a bus or two, a few cars, and several bicycles coming straight towards you. There's no good time to cross, you just have to step right out into the mass of it, follow your line, and make no sudden moves. Most of the motos will swerve around you. We've figured a trick is to act like fish and avoid the larger vehicles. They just honk and keep going.
Can't wait to see you all soon!
Dec 5, Home Again, Home AgainWow, about 74 hours elapsed from when we checked out of our last hotel until we got home here to Colorado. Finished our Mekong Delta tour, had about 7 hours in the airport, 5 hour flight to Seoul, 8 hour layover (with free city tour), 11 hour flight to LA, 8 hour layover, 17 hour train, 2 hours shopping in Albuquerque, then a 4 hour drive home. Whew!!
Fortunately, the week-long closing of the Bangkok airport only affected us a little bit. We were not able to get back there to finish Steve's dental work and to catch our flight home. But the airlines were all great. We got credit on our flight to BKK, and Asiana changed us free of charge to fly home out of Saigon instead. And we ended up having a really good time our last days in Vietnam that we did not plan on.
Since we had extra time, we went on a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels. Although packaged tours are not usually our gig, we had a good time. A bit rushed through with the crowd, but great to get out of the city. Very strange to see war remnants and to hear it all from the point of view of North Vietnam.