food food food, beep beep beep
07.01.2011 80 °F
bags in hand, we head out into the hot humidity of the city.
taxi to our guesthouse, skinny building, 2 rooms to a floor in a tiny alley on a sleepy side street. (Ngoc Son, 178/32 Co Giang St D 1) yes, they are in LP, and you can make reservation on the internet). Nice and clean, bathroom functional, rather steep stairs, tho someone did volunteer to carry my bag. (i said no!) staff really nice, tho limited english. $18 USD for a suite, all that was available... no room for a car in the alley, really only enough space for a single motorbike, we have to slide over to let the "beep beep here i am bike" pass. food stalls in the alley, on the streets. always a chance to sit in miniature plastic chairs and eat. soup, with beautiful herbs, shredded papaya with dried beef (yeah, i tried it, thought it was mushroom or seaweed, but it was black dry beef) . people friendly, smiley, they have seen enough foreigners to know that we can't talk, but we point and spend anyway. went to bed early, on some weird schedule, half way across the pacific, our bodies have not caught up yet.
morning, the streets come to life. we go down the alley into breakfast street, dozens of street stalls, soup, omelettes, sandwiches, coffee and more coffee, we find this here, that there, bring it together for breakfast at yet another kindergarten sized table/chair set. people watching, i see that the ladies wear the most wonderful pj sets, all colors imaginable, top and bottoms match, then maybe another print/color, with a long sleeved shirt over that - it is winter, after all, tho it is in the 70's.. took lots of photos of the pj wearers, but cannot up load.. ah well, techno fooled again.
breakfast street turns into wet market in a couple of blocks- fruit vegetables, fish, meat, all laid out along the road. and of course a booth selling heaps of the colorful pj's.. small town in saigon.
we leave food paradise and head out to buy eyeglasses! incredibly inexpensive (are they really RayBans for $20?) and made up with lenses in 3 hours, $50 for a pait of prescription glasses. Dan's were 1/2 again as much foro progressive lenses, took a day. Lots of shops on this street, we didn't look at them all- this one was great. He Thong Manh Long Optics, 09 Truong Dinh Q 1.
then wander into the huge market, Ben Thanh, full of everything, tourist stuff, more pj's (of course!) dried fruit, fresh fruit, coffee, toenail clippers, bolts of fabric, prepared foods. hot, crowded, hey, buy this look MADAM, you must see this, too much excitement, can only laugh and want to see it all!
later we go to the night market surrounding BT, yet more stuff in temporary booths, very elaborate, whole restaurants appear, tables with white cloths, chairs, florescent lights, kitchens, grills. all crowded, full of vietnamese people, foreigners, and us! i am so confused by the menu, and so wanting to try EVERYTHING that i almost cry... finally settle on spicy fish, yes small size, and rice and morning glory greens, and spring rolls to start, and beer... the spring roles appear, enough for a group of six. but too delicious to believe! then the morning glory and rice arrive, greens with garlic, mmmm. and the, oh my , the not so big fish, as big as moby dick, but so beautiful, rubbed with chili and grilled perfectly... we ate til we couldn't eat any more, and then ate more still... gave away the huge remaining stack of spring rolls to our new friends at the table, got the bill, and realized we had spent a princely $15... a fortune for food, and nothing for a magnificent meal.
switched hotels, went from village saigon to uptown classy. new hotel has computer, internet in the room, flat screen tv, elevator to our eighth floor perch. bathroom is a cross between italy and sci-fi, all sleek tile and minimalist plumbing. no wet market, but now we are directly across from BT, the almost uncrossable street filled with motorbikes, beep beep, i'm here, occasional cars and buses, just walk slowly across, the moto traffic splits and flows around people like water flows around rocks in the river, and still the hotel people are friendly, laugh at my attempts to say things in vietnamese - with its 8 tones, a mispronounced syllable causes a word to completely change meaning... i'm i speaking gibberish? oh yes...
not really doing the sights... we are focusing on hanging out, experiencing the city... so out to see some more! saw couples practicing ballroom in the park this am, 8 o'clock, late really, everyone on the way to work, beepbeep, get out of the way of the buses, they don't stop, and now,out to see Chinatown market ...