Monday, January 02, 2006

Adventures in Vietnam ...continued

When I last left you, I believe I was somewhere along the Mekong Delta ....a beautiful series of rivers and deltas that are in the heart of Vietnam. Mickey and I returned a day or two later to Ho Chi Minh City, where we enjoyed some shopping and mingling with our fellow expats.
HCMC has several great pubs and there is never a dull moment. Just sitting back and watching the hundreds of motorbikes pass each minute is enough to keep you thrilled for hours. Perhaps this is one of HCMC’s greatest attractions – the millions of people and tourists throughout the streets...there is nothing I have ever seen that compares.
To give you a little perspective....there are over 6 million people in HCMC alone, and over 80 million in the whole of Vietnam!!
A typical walk along a city street is not only sure to make you deaf (communication is accomplished strictly by using horns in Vietnam...beep, beep...beeeeeep!) but it will also make you appreciate the small things in crossing a street (in most Vietnamese cities, motorists do not stop or even acknowledge traffic lights or, as it appears, traffic laws. Instead they swerve in and out of lanes, across medians and often down the wrong side of the street. The key as a pedestrian is to walk slowly and allow the hundreds of motorbikes swerve around times, so close you can feel the heat of their engines. This is not for the faint of heart) In order to experience some more thrills (and perhaps gain a new perspective of this indescribable traffic) we spent a full day touring through the city on the back of motorbikes, driven by a wonderfully charming man named Thung and his good friend Cam (although to be honest I am not totally sure on the spelling of his friend’s name...please accept my apologies). They graciously drove us around for hours showing us temples, markets and rivers, stopping to tell us some little piece of history about each, or sometimes just for a cold drink. It was a fabulous way to see the city and get a feel for the locals. The thrill of being on the back of a speeding motorbike, weaving in and out of traffic is really incredible! I can honestly say it made me feel more alive then I had in a long time.
After our day around the city, we decided to enjoy New Years Eve in a little more low key fashion. Interestingly enough, I think this actually counts as my first sober New Years...but to be honest, we had been desperately hung over due to an impromptu binge the night before. Fair enough!
We spent the evening chatting over dinner, then went back to the hotel shortly before midnight...yep a little lame, just can’t do two nights out like I used to.
The upside of our quiet New Years is that we could spend our last day in Vietnam walking around the markets and enjoying what little time we had left in this fabulous city! That is exactly what we did.
Now I am home in Korea...after an incredibly long, scary flight (my flight was rerouted to Busan after several scary attempts to land in the worst fog I have ever seen. After a few hours and a reload of fuel, we took off again, this time to try several more scary attempts at landing – each that resulted in the pilot jolting the plane up towards the sky at the last minute... my life flashed before my eyes kind of moment – when we finally landed and I took a very long, grueling bus ride to work. I arrived 4 and a half hours late...but was pretty much just happy to be alive.....
Now with my laundry hanging and my brain a pile of mush I am going to retire to bed.

It was a great trip (minus the flight home) – and I have to admit that since I figured this time of year would be difficult, I wasn’t sad at incredible feat given my record these past few months.
I am forever grateful to my good mate Mickey for helping me remember what life is all about! Thanks babe and I can’t wait for our next reunion!
And to the people of Vietnam – whom I met just a handful...thank you! Their smiling faces and warm words were a constant reminder for me to always enjoy life – no matter what struggles come my way.
Enjoy the photos below, I have a ton, but decided to share just my favorites...there are quite a few, so take your time.


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