Sweatin’ Away in Saigon

Yes, it’s me again. It turns out that I have a little more free time than Nicole (I don’t really know why), but if you mix her posts with mine, then you can probably get a pretty well-rounded feel for how things really are. To give you an idea, my posts will always focus on food, dark coffee, darker beer, and now air conditioning. Nicole will cover everything else. I think that Nicole is going to try to post tonight or tomorrow morning.

I think that everyone has seen the pictures of the camera-toting tourists in New York City, with their mouths wide open and their eyes big. That has been us, except that we’re also drenched in sweat, and carrying a baby that everyone in the city seems to need to touch. Ho Chi Minh City is incredibly beautiful with all of the finely manicured gardens and trees. There are 8 million people (and 3 million motorbikes) squeezed into a fairly small area, and the streets are cleaner than they are in Denver. People here really take pride in their jobs, whatever that job may be. I respect that. They are also very kind and ready to help. If I understood a lick of Vietnamese, I’m sure that they would be 10 times more helpful, but I’m sure that I am very entertaining with my hand signals and attempts to communicate. It’s probably very funny to watch.

So yesterday morning (after the incredible buffet breakfast of course) we went dress shopping. Not for me, but for Piper. Previous adoptive families passed on some information to Nicole about some stores that have very reasonably prices embroidered dresses (thank you Emily!). Nicole has been really good up to this point about keeping the shopping reasonable, but when she got into this store (look at the ‘nKids’ album here for pics), she handed Piper over to me, and I saw her eyes glaze over. She moved to another level of consciousness that is reserved only for shopping. That is serious trouble for our budget. I had a feeling that this was going to happen, so I tried to prepare by talking calmly with her about it before we even arrived in HCMC. The glazed eyes were my signal that any talks that we had had were now null and void. At that point, my only job was tender payment at the end of the session. To give you an idea, we had talked about getting a ‘few’ items. To me, that means three. After the woman at the register told me how much, she mentioned that there were 31 items. We added to that six or seven more dresses that she picked up this afternoon. But, truth be told, I’m now going to shut my mouth on this topic, because with all of the shopping to be done in this city, I am getting off easy.

Our group here decided that we wanted to see the city, but with this heat and humidity there was no way that we were going to walk it, so we hired a big van to take us around to all of the major sites. The package also came with an English-speaking guide to tell us what we were looking at. We started by going to China Town (it seems every major city has one) to see the Thien Hau Pagoda. Take a look in the ‘Thien Hau Pagoda’ album for pics here. Very beautiful. Painstakingly difficult carvings, and LOTS of incense to fill the nostrils.

We were then zipped off to the old Presidential Palace. Built in the 60’s, it was VERY 60’s. It was vacated in 1975 (I believe) when the North came in with their tanks. It was big, and palatial, but it didn’t have very many intricacies that I see in so many of the buildings here.

Next to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office (I would never take someone to see the post office in Denver, but their’s is a touch fancier). We finished off the trip with the War Remnants Museum, which was good timing, because we had all just about melted by then.

Today we started out at the Saigon Zoo (after the buffet breakfast of course) and botanical gardens. Everybody always cracks jokes at the variety of animals in this zoo (cows and chickens), but we saw neither cows nor chickens, though there were relatively few animals overall. I would say that the bears had to be the unhappiest animals in the entire place with their fur coats. There were two of them, and they didn’t move an inch in the two hours that we were there. The big attraction was the gardens. They were exquisite. Piper wouldn’t know this because she fell asleep the second we walked through the gates, and she didn’t wake up again until we left. To try and cool everyone off, we took three trips around the zoo in this train where the driver sometimes tries not to run over the children that seem to appear out of nowhere.

Well, I’m all talked out for now. We leave for Hanoi tomorrow afternoon, and the temperatures there are 10 degrees cooler. Here are some of my favorite pics of the last couple of days:

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3 Comments on “Sweatin’ Away in Saigon”

  1. Kendra Says:

    I am with you Darren. I have had very similiar experiences in some of my travels (minus the drop dead gorgeous baby, of course). Stay cool! If it is any consolation, were you to stay there for oh – maybe a year – your body would adjust to the temperatures you previously were convinced only existed on Mercury… in the summer… on Mercury.

  2. Kristin Says:

    Sounds like you guys are really enjoying your stay…well, except for the heat! I’m so afraid to even walk into that dress shop, because I’m sure it will be brutal on our budget as well. Just be sure that Nicole tells me where it is before we leave. 🙂

  3. lookingforlulu Says:

    HA!!! thankfully i went to NKid the first time with lee’s credit card, but without lee. i do not even remember the hour i spent in the store. it was like i was on some crazy drug!
    best store EVER! SOOO glad you went.

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