Good Morning, Vietnam

May 25, 2008

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After a good night’s sleep, I can appreciate the entrepreneurial humor of the Vietnamese I met yesterday. To them, all westerners are rich and have money to waste.

Since I’m staying in the Old District, I did a lot of walking this morning. The streets are so busy here. Motorcycles and bicycles and pedestrians are everywhere, with a car thrown in every now and then. To cross the street, you just start walking and the bikes and motos dodge you. It looked a little scary at first, but after watching locals, I followed how they did it and it somehow just works! After breakfast at a cafe in the Old District, I got a massage and a manicure at a local salon. I seem to be more of an oddity here than in Thailand. People from neighboring shops came to stand in the doorway and stare at me having my nails done. After being here for less than I day, I can’t help but notice that the Vietnamese smile all the time. Why are they all so happy! :)

My Vietnam tour starts today, so I took a taxi over to my new hotel by the train station. The group meeting wasn’t until the evening, so I walked over to a yoga place mentioned in the Lonely Planet, but it’s closed down. That’s 2 for 2 of places that aren’t in business, Lonely Planet! Since I was across the street from the Temple of Literature, I walked over to check it out. It wasn’t that interesting, so I took a taxi out to the Museum of Ethnology. The museum was really cool. They have an huge outdoor exhibit behind the main museum building that has different examples of huts and traditional housing. And the French Bakery that I tried to go to this morning was relocated out here, so I won’t say if that was my true reason for coming here. ;) I had a lemon tart and iced coffee, before heading back to the hotel for the group meeting.

When I first walked in, there were two older couples sitting there. I hope my initial horror was too visible. Thankfully, a couple in their 30s, and 2 guys in their 20s joined us shortly. We went to dinner at a local restaurant. The group seems alright, but there’s kind of an awkward “get to know you” atmosphere. Thankfully, after a few days the 20 Questions should be over.