We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam yesterday. We traveled up the Saigon River for about 2 hours to get to the city and it was a beautiful trip. It probably sounds lame, but it looked just like it did in all of the movies and pictures we have seen. It is very humid and warm here and the vegetation is very lush and the most beautiful green.
After we wound our way to the port we set out with a group of theatre students to see a Vietnamese Water Puppet Theatre show. This particular art of puppetry is unique to Vietnam: it originated in North Vietnam as an entertainment for the farmers after a long day of harvesting. There are 300 different scenes in the collection and we saw nine performed. Each scene features a portion of everyday Vietnamese life. Water puppetry is quite incredible. You will have to check out our pictures to see the details. The puppets look as if they are floating on water, but in reality they are being controlled by puppeteers that are standing in water waist deep behind a screen. They control the puppets using a long rod that is hidden under the water. It was really amazing to see, even though we couldn't understand anything they were saying. We are seeing a second show in Hanoi so it will be interesting to compare the two.
In the evening we went out with some of our fellow faculty one of whom had a connection in town. Our local "guide's" name was Nga and she happily showed us around and took us to a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant. We had Pho (their famous soup) as well asnd spring rolls, dumplings and a sticky rice coconut dish for dessert. We were so excited when we got the bill and it was only $25 for all six of us.I thought it was a mistake, but nope, it is just incredibly cheap!!
-To cross the street here you need training: there are so many motorbikes and vehicles. If you are crossing the street you just have to keep walking at a slow pace and DO NOT STOP, otherwise you will cause an accident
-Everyone here wears what looks to be a surgical mask when they are outside. We think this is because of the pollution while they are riding motorbikes. They have designer masks they sell in the markets.