At this moment I am sitting along the Saigon River at DEAR friends' house. They have rolled out the red carpet. We feel cradled like babies and must admit we need the lovin as are a bit beat up from the road and the China pollution poisoning. We just got back from the local salon where 12 people united to peel the China off of us with facials, shampoo and head massage, blow dry, color where needed, manis and pedis. The total bill for the 5 of us to be primped beyond belief? $60 USD.
Quite a contrast already is evident between China and Vietnam and it's not just cost. They are both communist, censoring states with a brutal past, but the vibe of Vietnam is so different. It almost feels like communism is working here. The cars are large which surprised us a bit. Bicycles are few; motorbikes far outnumber any mode of wheeled transportation. You feel like they should be soundtracked by a symphony as you watch them weave amongst each other and perform cross traffic maneuvers. Many have been adapted to carry varying degrees of commodities- the most precious one being children. A high chair seat of bamboo is usually mounted in the leg area for them. Helmets are compulsory for adults but not required for children, potatoes or coconuts.
The food here is the best we have had in Asia thus far. Vegetables and fruit are plentiful. The fruit is intense with a cold coconut ready for you to suck down or a bowl of the amazing how-will-I-live-without-you Longan fruit. The brown outer skin of the Longan peels off leaving something that looks like an eyeball. The flavor is so unique and exquisite. Every bite is a real treasure because the flesh is scarce- the majority of the fruit is a pit that gets discarded.
The kids finally get to be kids and run and play with people of like height and mental occupation. The adults finally get to be adults as well- tonight a sitter comes and we go out on vespas to eat street food, drink and find music.
Ho Chi Minh, 10.7500° N, 106.6667° E.