Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 23 2015

Vietnam 2

I slept soundly at the Victory Hotel, probably due to the lack of the helicopters that featured so prominently in the advertising, but the musty, slightly less sucky room we ended up with also lacked hot water in the shower. Or much of any water, actually.

The hotel breakfast wasn’t bad; we sucked up some beef pho while a river of scooters flowed by, occasionally reaching up the sidewalk. A man who was apparently the late Isaac Asimov sat just behind me, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask Chenbl on exactly which plane the man existed. I do know that he was having toast.

It was muggy outside, muggy even by Taiwanese standards, when we set out, heading by the old presidential building and eventually across the street up to the cathedral. I say eventually because we spent a lot of time standing on the corner studying just how to cross a street here. It’s really an art; you have to pace yourself and appear unconcerned as you stride directly into the path of a hundred charging scooters, who (hopefully) all move around you in a potentially murderous ballet.

cathedralVarious tour groups milled around the cathedral and the adjacent old post office, which was architectually quite neat, and is apparently still a functioning post office, as well as a tourist market. A wedding photographer placed his subjects out into the street for a photo, but though he may have been hoping to sell a shot of a car accident, nothing untoward happened until an older European gentleman embarassed his wife by running up for a picture with the bride.

We walked down towards the river, intermittently passing and being passed by a group of Aussie retirees. A large construction site promised a working subway by 2018. The old buildings are shaded by lovely old trees, but the tone of the area got distinctly seedy as we approached the river, which I found surprising. Surely the river is the life of a city? But when we reached the river, the city just kind of…ended. Nothing was on the other side but empty fields. I don’t get it, is it haunted or something?

We walked back up towards the hotel, as we had to check out, but first stopping so I could sample some of the local Dunkin Donuts and get a drink (I know, I’m terrible, but the donuts weren’t bad, actually; better than the Taipei version that so deservedly failed), and to be told by the official Sony store that they are above selling such droll things as battery chargers.

Back at the Victory, we doused ourselves with cold water from the shower, as the day had become really hot, and checked out just in time to find that the water we drank from the fridge was actually taxed in such a convoluted way that they hotel staff had to spend a couple of minutes figuring out how much to charge us. Then we sat in the lobby while I emailed Prince Roy to see if he’d landed yet. When he replied in the affirmative, we proceeded to walk over to his place. This would have been about a 5-minute walk, but Chenbl had mistaken one end of the street for the other, so we walked the entire length of the street twice before actually finding the place.

Prince Roy has a very nice pad, I have to say. He took us out walking around the city, showing us some of the sights. We went to a sprawling market or two looking for jackets, and eventually ended up having some delicious chicken pho at an interesting old restaurant decorated with 50s-era tiles and mirrors.

posted by Poagao at 7:55 am  

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