Sunday, February 10, 2013

Finding Paradise in Lagi, Vietnam

Our trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Lagi, 200 km away took about four hours in a "bus" which was really a large taxi. Five of our extended-family-to-be met us at the airport, so they and we three had to cram into the bus with all our baggage. I had my feet up on the engine cowling and Christina was twisted a bit like a pretzel, however, after a slightly uncomfortable journey we made it to the Mai Long Hotel at Lagi where I sit now as I write.

As hotels go, it's very nice and it's also very cheap at about $12 AUD per night. Everything is inexpensive here by Australian standards which makes one realise how taxed and profit conscious we are. One thing that really impresses me is that wifi in the hotel is free and lightning speed, not like the service provided in our so-called "first world country" by Telstra/Bigpond.

The local currency, with the unfortunate title of "Dong" is in the thousands and you feel like you are being over-charged for everything until you work out the comparative cost. Twenty thousand Dong for two cups of Vietnamese style iced coffee is about $1 AUD. Take off the last four zeros and divide by two for an approximation.

A can of 330 ml beer is worth around $0.50 cents ... very easy to become a drunkard here.

Our new inlaws, Nup (mother of Ean, who is marrying son Dale) and Vian (father) run a fish wholesaling business and seem like a very lovely family. They are surrounded by what seems like a cornucopia of brothers, uncles,  grandparents, fathers and so on. The great point of note here is that everyone looks after everyone else in the family. The older family members are supported financially by their offspring ... no Centrelink Office here.

The people are friendly and manage to keep themselves reasonably well groomed and clothed with the odd exception. Everyone and everything here seems to busy with motor cycles coming and going day and night.

Our hosts have had us running from place to place meeting Uncle Ing, grandmother something or other, attending dinner here and breakfast there. We even found Paradise as you can see in the two photos above. And I thought paradise was only an imaginary place where the good, dead finished up. Not true!

There are no credit card facilities here which has been a pain, but we have managed to use ATMs to keep ourselves loaded up with Dong.

At present we are in the middle of the Chinese New Year so celebrations are ongoing, but shops are still open selling coffee and food, hardware and other things. The next week promises to be an interesting and demanding one for all of us. I'll keep you posted.


PS: Our new daughter in law is a lovely, intelligent lady who will be a welcome addition to our family and despite the cultural and language challenges, a great partner for our son


Tina Miranda said...

Thinking of you guys :) Can't wait to see Dale dressed up in his finery and of course to see the bride dolled up too! If it is anything like India as it sounds awful lot like, I am sure you are going to be flabbergasted ;) It is a good think both of you are such good sports and have an open mind and heart. Pots of LOVE, and a Belated Happy Valentines to two people we love!!

Robin Henry said...

It's all a mystery at this end. Nobody is telling us much about anything, but I guess it will all fall into place on the day ... Sunday.