Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City!

What an interesting city this is! We touched down yesterday morning and waited half an hour at the airport for Connor's visa. Just when Mummy couldn't wait any longer and had just announced she was going to the loo, they called our name and we had to go pick up the visa. Had to tahan until we got into hotel room.

HCMC reminds me of Bangkok + Jakarta. But it's not as crowded as both and a lot, lot cleaner than Jakarta. Mummy and Connor have been out walking, popping into shops along the way. I've just bravely ordered a take-away bowl of pho (their most delicious beef noodles) from a roadside shop and will have it for lunch. We ate at shops along the way yesterday and we've not been sick so I figured what the heck. All of my friends who've been here have eaten at the road stalls and not been sick either. Then again, it takes quite a big ugly bacteria to floor a Malaysian tummy.

I'm getting to be quite the expert at crossing Vietnamese streets. As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as right of way. They do obey traffic lights albeit quite reluctantly. I was quite worried at first as I had Connor in his stroller. But after a few roads, I've realised the advice I've gotten off old hands is true - just walk out. As long as they can see you, they'll know how to avoid you.

We went by the Roman Cathedral today and peeked into the Post Office. What glorious architecture the Post Office had! We walked past the Opera House but that was shut so I couldn't go in. We also walked past the old US Embassy but it was also shut. I took pictures of it from the gates. Wish we could have gone in because they had a fighter jet on display in the grounds and Connor would have loved it.

We went to a street night market last night. It's like Walmart but out on the street. You can do your weekend shopping here. There's a meat and fish section, a deli bit, bread, toiletries, nappies, baby formula, clothes, toys, vegetables, fruits - all sold from little stalls packed neatly and tightly from top to bottom with stuff. People just rode up on their bikes, shouted out their orders and the seller would hand it over before the rider zipped off. A ride-thru supermarket! I loved it.

If you want something more upmarket, I passed by plenty of stores with LV, Marc Jacobs, Tod's logos on them. But I didn't fly all the way here just to look at stuff I can get anywhere else in the world. I like the little stores like the one we saw selling old watches and a stuffed (erm, if that's what it was) turtle.

Last night, we ate at a shop called Red Hot Wok. I don't know where it is because we were just wandering along and saw the sign. To reach it, you have to walk down this little alley. We had two dishes. One of them was definitely steamed fish with ginger, soy sauce and spring onions. The other... I'm not very sure because it was Dear Hubby who ordered. The menu was in Vietnamese, Chinese and bad English. He pointed to something and I didn't get to see what it was. He thinks he ordered chicken in black pepper sauce. I think he actually ordered frog in black pepper sauce. Because 1) I never found any chicken bones 2) the meat texture was all wrong 3) the looks on the waitresses' face when he pointed to it.

No taxi driver I've met speaks English but all are very friendly and very good at driving in this haphazard traffic system. Everyone I've met thinks I'm Vietnamese and will prattle happily away to me. Next time I will learn the Vietnamese for "Sorry, I am Malaysian". There are plenty of Malaysians and Singaporeans around though, I can tell from their accents when they speak.

Oh and we went by a shop that was selling beautiful silk dresses. Dear Hubby picked out a few for me to try and so did the seller. After kissing me goodbye, he went off to a meeting. The seller told me with a smile, "He loves you very much. He good man." Yes indeed.

What a lovely time we've had. Eating and shopping - just the way to make my world complete.

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