Summer’s Update From Vietnam

Hi, All

I gotta make this fast and shorter than normal.  We only had 2-days between Vietnam and Hong Kong/China and I had to get my class schedule put together and sent to my mom, who is going to register online for me.  We’ve got classes these two days and I wanted to get this out before we dock.

I had a great first Impression of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, but quickly came to realize that every single person in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Hanoi and Halong Bay takes advantage of Americans generosity towards people. It was like, "Oh, you from America? Ok, price is tripled then."  Maybe it is leftover payback for the war?  But gosh,  I wasn’t even born then.

People who had visited Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City – and Vietnam in general – in years past described a third world country that regarded Americans with suspicion and curiosity. So I expected to see a lot of poverty, beggars.  That really wasn’t the case.  But this is the first country where I didn’t think the people were nice and humble and it gave me a very bad impression of their country. It just got so annoying. Other than that my trips were fine and I got a lot of cool things to eventually decorate my very own apartment with… Can I just say my pad will be pimpin with decorations influenced from all the places I have been in the world.  My mom applied for an on-canpus apartment for me last week.  I just don’t think I can do another dorm semester…

The first day I/we got to Vietnam, we didn’t get cleared until 1pm, which was right when I had to leave for the City Orientation.  And sorry to say this for you history majors, it was a complete bore and didn’t do for the group what we wanted it to do for us, which was to give us a feeling for the city and the best places to go, eat and shop. All it accomplished was seeing the History of the War Museum, which was interesting, but not my cup of tea, and the former President’s house. By the time we got back, I had just enough time to shower and get ready to see the night life of Ho Chi Minh City. Groover, Stew, a bunch of other people whose names I’ve forgotten, and I went to this local bar just to start drinking before we went over to the main club, Apocalypse Now(like the movie) where all the drinks were going to be really expensive. So I had three Saigon Slings, which were really, really good. The place had the most awesome music and they almost made me a CD, but the guy that makes them went home because he was too drunk.

But we all chatted and ate peanuts and then took a taxi over to the club, where, to no surprise, was filled with everyone from SAS and some locals. I took a couple shots of their white rum and was good to go. It was funny because there were guards everywhere keeping an eagle eye on everything and when I took a pic of just the general scene, I got yelled at. And then I guess dancing up on the stage was forbidden, but we did it anyways and I didn’t get yelled at that time because I flirted with one of the officials… HEHE. Then some locals bought me a beer which was cool of them. Finally at about 2am, Stew and I headed back to the ship in a rickshaw. That ride is a little fuzzy, but we made it back safe and that’s all that matters.

Then all of a sudden, the phone rings and it is my friend Tal from my trip that is supposed to leave that morning at 5am, saying that it was almost time. Good thing I engraved my room number into her hand the night before, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it to my trip. The first half of that day I was still drunk, but we were only traveling, so it was fine. I couldn’t remember our trip leader giving me my passport or the plane ride for that matter… I was too out of it, I guess?

That day we arrived in Hanoi and toured another war museum and visited the former President’s house, and the city itself was beautiful. They didn’t give us much time to shop, but I did manage to get a few t-shirts and all of the seasons for Friends and Sex in the City. Every CD only cost a dollar. I have only found one defective episode so far, which excites me. A lot of our time on this trip was spent traveling and it took a half a day to get to Halong Bay, just in time to check into our hotel, so we could get up the next morning to take our four hour boat ride around the bay, which was beautiful. We got to see these really cool caves, just recently found by the people and grottoes. We also jumped off the top of our boat and swam in the bay just before lunch. That was the highlight and the water felt so nice BUT salty. When we got back we were able to do some shopping, but I didn’t find anything I liked.

Then, it was the funniest thing because we went to a non-stripping strip club. There were like five Asian girls in skimpy outfits shaking their non-existent boobs and butts to choreographed moves. And it wasn’t like they were sexy moves either, but actually kind of awkward. I was disappointed because I didn’t have any dancing outfits with me and nobody but the gogo dancers were dancing, so I decided to get a good night sleep and watch cartoon network instead… Hehe! I couldn’t believe they had that channel. When we headed back to Hanoi we did more of a city orientation type tour and then finally had a good last meal. I was so sick of my food looking at me and ripping off heads and legs like animals. Every meal on this trip wasn’t taken out of it’s body yet, so I had to tear legs off of crabs and prawns as well as heads. It was gross! The meat was good once you got down to it, but still… Ewwww! When we finally returned to Ho Chi Minh City, Stew and I watched Sex in the City, went to bed early and tried to get an early start on our last day in Vietnam. At 11am, we finally rolled our behinds out of bed and into the city to do some major shopping. I got some really cute clubbin tops because I figured that I had such a hard time finding them in the US, especially because of my size. All the tops here fit perfectly and after trying on more than half the store I picked out several tops to purchase after I bought this beautiful piece of artwork to hang on my future apartment. Everything was a great price, even if they were trying to over charge us! We were going to go tour the Tunnels but didn’t make it back to the ship in time to meet the group. I do feel bad about missing that. But, it was so much fun walking through the streets in the pouring rain with just a bag to cover our heads. But because of the rain we decided to grab an actual taxi instead of the motor scooters that everyone gets around on… The same kind of scooter that I burnt my leg on the exhaust with.  Anyway, I’ll write in more detail later.

Love, Summer

PS. I did get your packages Mom & Dad. Thank you!

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About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place".
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