Sunday, January 25, 2009

Misc Blog Wrap-up Nonsense

My first day in Saigon (one of the nicest days of my life):
  • Arrive at the train station at 5am after two nights on the sleeper train with my two favourite Americans Sarah and Mitchell. Slightly hungover.
  • Checking into this hotel. Which is tacky and hilarious, including a GIANT poster of Mount Fuji on my wall. As in, it takes up a whole wall.
  • Breakfasting with and bidding farewell to my Americans, who were on route to Cambodia (this part wasn't nice, it sucked).
  • Getting a Xe Om to the War Remnants Museum - previously known as the American War Crimes Museum, and still definitely on that path. It was horrifying, of course, but for a politics nerd like me - highly enjoyable (I hope you don't think this is sick).
  • A walk through an amazing food market and the best Pho (noodle soup) of my life.
  • An intense shampoo and facial massage at a hairdressers. It took for years (yay!) and I was sure they were going to charge me more than the standard. They didn't, so I tipped.
  • A nap at home to the soothing sounds of CNN.
  • Evening: watching 'In Bruges' (a dumb but fun action/ comedy) in a luxury movie lounge attached to a coffee house, while drinking 'hot vanilla'.
Other awesome things lately:
  • Watching Obama be inaugurated in a fancy bar atop a hideous building in Hanoi. Having various drunken epiphanies while this was going on and writing some of them (in fluro-yellow) in my moleskin. One example: "I see Republicans have just caught on to Pashmina."
  • Walking through Hanoi thinking "fuck!fuck!fuck!" and "what is wrong with the Hanoians?! Why are they so mean all the time?!" and trying to cross the -impossible- road, when a dear old Hanoian lady softly holds my arm and guides me through the traffic, laughing and smiling at me. What a jerk (me, obviously).
  • Getting a letter from my darling Opa (grandfather) telling me that of all the letters he received for Christmas, mine made him the happiest (asking to live with him). Also in the envelope was 15 Euro for the train to his house, so I don't need to change my money right away. For that, he deserves a large home-baked cheesecake.

NB: In case this blog is giving the wrong impression, I actually love Hanoi and the people who call it home. It's just a very difficult place and on some days it drove me insane (ask any expat in Hanoi, they all have - "I don't like Vietnam" - days). Truly, Hanoi is stupendously beautiful and the Hanoians who are not involved in the tourism industry are honest (almost to a fault), loyal and generous. And wildly, wildly forgiving - considering what the West was up to in Vietnam only 30 years ago.

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