Thursday, February 07, 2013

It's Different but Similar in Vietnam

After an uninteresting and ordinary flight from Singapore, we arrived safely (always a bonus) at Tan Son Nhut Airport around 6:30 pm. While the standard of the airport surprised us, the two and a half hour wait to get our pre-booked visas process didn't. Been there, done that in several other countries.

After standing in queue for so long, it reminded me why one has to be at least reasonably fit to travel. It's not just carrying the bags that is the issue. For some, standing without anything to drink for a couple of hours can be daunting. Fortunately, I'm reasonably healthy and a placid person and not usually prone to impatience, having learnt early in life that being impatient doesn't help to make things happen any sooner. I do admit though, that I was pleased to get my visa and get out of the airport.

Friends including our daughter-in-law to be were waiting patiently for us and as we were incommunicado, must have wondered whether we had in fact arrived. All's well that ends well however.

We spent our first night at Saigon where, in the course of finding a place to have a beer, son Dale and I had an interesting interlude with a couple of "bar" girls. One sat close on my left, threw her leg over mine and rubbed my thigh. Even after only one beer, I thought she was stunning ... we drank our beer quickly and scurried off with tails between our legs. Maybe we should have stayed to see where the journey led, but we had a fair premonition and decided cowardice was the best form of survival, my son being about to marry and me with a wife of almost 40 years with whom I'd like to spend the rest of my days. I still have a vague recollection of having said, "until death do us part", with no mention of sudden death!

The city was as expected, similar to other Asian countries we have visited and also had some similarity to the Arabic countries with the sole exception of course that most of the people are Asian (what a surprise). There is a flower festival under way at present and we spent about an hour wandering among the many beautiful varieties of flowers. Unfortunately, I had left my camera in the hotel so missed many golden photo opportunities which I regret.

After doing some necessary business with the Australian Consulate-General's Office at Saigon, which was almost as painful as the visa issuing process at the airport, we walked about the streets and markets and managed to find a restaurant for dinner. We had an early night for in the morning we were off to Lagi which is where we are now.

Everywhere in Vietnam is a reminder of how resilient and motivated the Asian people are, having a penchant to turn anything into a way to make a Dong or survive for another few days. The motor scooters and motorcycles are ubiquitous; the thought passed my mind that there must be a huge trade in sins of the flesh, motor bike sales and repairs. Everything else must surely be subordinate.

Thanks to our Vietnamese friend Phuong, adapting to the local routine is much easier.



Tina Miranda said...

LOL that has to be one of the most hilarious posts of yours that I have read! Good on you guys!!

Robin Henry said...

Thanks Tina dear. More to come ...