Tag Archives: Saigon

So this is Christmas…

25 Dec

One of my favorite Christmas carols is Little Drummer Boy.  The bob seeger version gets me every time.  Brings me back to past Christmases with family — hanging up ornaments that my brother and I made when we were 5, opening presents together, sharing food and drink, laughing, talking, more food.

Last night, while walking back to my hotel, one of the bars had that carol playing loudly and for a moment, I was transported back to cold New York — back to my father’s house or my mother’s house (hard to be transported to two places at the same time…  but I managed) – imagining my brothers and I hanging out, or all 16+ of us fitting around the table for the Christmas feast.  It made me smile…  and then I was almost run over by a moped.

Being abroad, solo, is a bit strange for Christmas.  First, there is the fact that I am in a predominantly Buddhist country.  Then there is the fact that I do not speak the same language as the people here.  Then, there is the fact that the biggest manifestation of the Christmas spirit around here is commerical — all the big stores have christmas displays — and not being a shopper (even when I am not trying to live on 30$/day) leaves me feeling pretty disconnected from that.  Then there is the fact that I am by myself when Christmas, to me, means lots of aunts running around trying to get the Christmas meal on the table (i.e. – nothing solo about it!).  So — all in all — it is hard to feel a connection to this day — other than I know that back in cold snowy New York (ok, even if it is not cold and snowy there — it is in my mind) – my friends and family are celebrating and my aunts (and uncles) will still be running around to get the meal on the table for all 16+ people!

I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s right now — i feel truly blessed and grateful for this journey that I am on — and know that so few people are able to make the same type of choices as I have been able to.  However, having said that, it would be nice to magically (and for free!) be able to zip home for a quick visit, eat some good food, have some good ipas, visit with friends and family really quick — and then get back to my adventure!  but until then I remain grateful to wifi, skype, spring rolls and other travelers.

No matter how you celebrate the day (with family, eating chinese food, going to the movies) – I hope it is a wonderful day for you and your loved ones.  Enjoy, laugh, be grateful and eat and drink well!

Much love — Aurora


all kinds of crazy

23 Dec

holy shitballs….  HCMC is insane….

I will try to describe crossing the street from where I have come from….

  • Take the order of Bangkok (following conventional traffic rules and lights)
  • Take the sheer number of vehicles on the road of india (delhi) and make most of mopeds
  • take the lack of lights of india

and there you would have something a little like the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.  Lonely Planet has it in the book that one of the things you should do in Vietnam is cross the street like a local “one step at a time” because pretty much you just have to walk out into it…  and the mopeds trust that you will keep going and you trust that they will move around you.  and it all works out in the end…  but there are thousands of them.  i mean, thousands.  you know that movie Baraka where they have the high speed film of some place in asia (china maybe?) and all the bikes?  yeah….  it is real.

I got here this morning, all smooth, the hotel picked me up and it was still early, so i was able to relax before i went out into the city.  it is pretty easy to get around — road signs everywhere.  and during the middle of the day – the craziness is put away.  There are fewer street carts than bangkok.  They are still there, but not in the multitudes.  I had lunch in a market.  Stalls were set up selling clothes and shoes and t-shirts and make-up.  and then the food stalls.  I bypassed the pho and went right for the spring rolls.  they were so good.  so delicious.  I had 4 for about a dollar and a half…  and the other food…  cannot wait to try it.

Vietnam is WAY into their coffee.  there is a coffee shop on every corner.  now, i get free coffee at my hotel (free coffee, free light breakfast and free light dinner and bananas all day — that is what you get when you pay the high high price of 20 USD/night!) — so in theory, I should not be stopping for coffee but….  how can one resist?!

well, i don’t!  🙂  it is rich, dark and sweet….  so good!

there is a coffee here that they sell (maybe just to tourists?) that is first eaten by weasels and then picked out of the weasel poop and then roasted…..  yep.  no joke.  (well, although, it might be.  maybe all the vietnamese are laughing at the tourists….)

I got my bearings today and so tomorrow I plan on going for a run in the morning (my first in a long time) and then going to check out the war museum.  I have heard that it is pretty intense.  and then, I met a woman today who lives in the phillipines but is visiting her brother here.  We may meet up for lunch (I am trusting/ hoping she is just really friendly) and then I reached out to the couchsurfing community here and may meet up with some of those folks.  I am not sure what my plans are for xmas day yet…  there are a lot of different options up in the air right now…  all depends on what Chloe and I plan to do when she gets here.

Ok — more tomorrow….  I want to share more about how pretty the city is and how easy it is to get around (signs are up and the map connects with the streets signs — seems like a no-brainer, but not always the case) and people seem friendly-ish.  and did i mention that it is hot as hell?

lots of love friends — i know people are traveling and feeling crazy right now…  don’t forget to take a deep breath and celebrate the people you are surrounded by.

much love — aurora