Monday, July 6, 2009
Today is my second morning in Vietnam. I'm pretty pleased that I did not succumb to jet lag yesterday- aided by the fact that Moto jumped on me at 10 am and asked "Are you awake?" Well I sure was then. Before lunch we went swimming- the cool water felt so pleasant in the hot hot sun. For lunch we joined his sister and parents at a Chinese restaurant. I had never had "REAL" chinese food before- this was really interesting. My favorite dish was this steamed shrimp sausage dumpling (unfortunately I ate too many and really regretted it later). It was soft and spicy and rich all at the same time. After that we went shopping and got to witness the power of bargaining- Moto's sister Erina is a real pro. She talked a lady down for me for a dress that started out at 250000 Dong to only 190000 by saying how I had just come all the way from the states and how she would invite all her friends to this lady's store. For reference seventeen thousand dong is about one US dollar. And interestingly enough the largest bill is 500000 Dong which is only like $30 US. Crazy huh?
Riding in a car here was my biggest culture shock. People very rarely drive cars themselves- they either use a taxi, have a driver, or use a motorbike. It was easy to see why as soon as we got on the road. Cars and bikes wove in and out of each other giving little regard to their near-death driving style. Horns are more like a polite "hello" or a statement "here I am!" and are administered freely and with little provocation. It was insane!
Anyway, after a delicious sushi dinner (natto sushi anyone?) we had drinks at the GO2 bar in the backpacker's district where I received my second culture shock. I had gotten used already to vendors on the streets pestering us with
their wares- but as we sipped our drinks outside the bar little kids walked up to
us selling cigarettes. One particularly cute little boy played rock-paper-scissors with the people across from us and then tried to steal his gum. The city certainly is an interesting place, and contrasts sharply with the United States. But I love how kind everyone is, how warm and beautiful the weather is, and how delicious the food is so far.
Today we are flying to a resort in Nha Trang on the beach. I will get to see more of the jungley looking Vietnam with beautiful foliage and wide beaches. It looks like I will get very spoiled :)