Saturday, May 3, 2008

First Day in Vietnam

Well, we made it! I was a little worried about the tight connection in Taipei, a 1 1/2 hour layover. Especially when our flight left Anchorage 45 minutes late! We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City at 9:50am as scheduled. We were met my a staff person from Holt. I was so relieved to see her that I had to choke back the tears. It was kind of scary being here without Ly for the first time!
After checking into our hotel, Matt went to plug our laptop in to charge it up. Luckily, the first thing he plugged in was the surge protector. We heard a loud pop and then it smelled like fireworks in the hotel room. Matt actually had black smoke on his hand. He was relieved that it was not the computer that blew up. I was relieved that I was not doing CPR on him. He did manage to get the power adapters lined up properly without further life threatening incidents, Thank God!

Then we walked around and had lunch at a restaurant called Miss Saigon. Fresh spring rolls, shrimp and egg plant in clay pot, and my favorite vegetable: rau muong. Fresh grapefruit for dessert. Then we walked down to Ben Thanh market and took pictures of seafood wiggling around in baskets: fish, shrimp, eels, clams, mussels and snails. I wish I'd taken a photo of the table with all the organs: kidneys, intestines, pancreas, and even whole pig brains. Maybe tomorrow. I paid way too much for a LV knockoff purse for Alana (dark brown with red cherries, very cute). I'm not good at bartering. I also bought a kg of mangosteen but no knife to cut it with.

Then we got caught in a torrential downpour that lasted for about an hour. Unfortately, we were caught in the jewelry store neighborhood instead of a coffee shop. So we walked a few blocks to Highland Coffee and sat out the rest of the monsoon there. Our waitress looked like a young Che Guevara in her black beret and red shirt. She would not let me take a picure of her and disappeared right after she brought us our coffee, never to return. Now how did she know we were just there for a cup of coffee, waiting out the rain and not a couple of big spenders? I guess those waitresses know. I made Matt take a picture of me with my coffee looking like a wet rat. He asked if he should just get my hands like Alana does. I said no, I want the whole wet rat tourist trapped in a monsoon look.

Our plan was to go back to the hotel for a couple hours, take a nap and check our email before going back out. Instead we fell asleep for about 5 hours, woke up at 9pm. All the restaurants within a block of our hotel are Japanese. We were looking for a simple, cheap Vietnamese restaurant. After walking for blocks past 8 Japanese restaurants, 1 Indian, 1 Nepalese, 1 Meditarranean, and 1 Texas BBQ, we finally headed for the first Asian looking restaurant that wasn't pulling their big metal gate down! It turned out to be a Chinese restaurant. It was 6am Alaska time. Matt's stomach pulled a major revolt. Everything on the menu was fried, even the vegetables. He couldn't even choked down a bite of the steamed rice. Who would have thought we'd have such a hard time finding Vietnamese food in the heart of Saigon!

Tomorrow we have another day to ourselves. Our plan is to meet our friends, The Curry Family, from Illionois. They are also here to pick up a child from the same orphanage, a little boy named Kiet. Our plan is to hang out together so the kids can get comfort from seeing a familiar face now and then. More news tomorrow...

No comments: