Vacationing in Vietnam

So yesterday I got back from a vacation that was exactly what I needed. Had the doctor written a prescription for me, he could not have chosen better. I took time away from the office, away from the villages, away from life here, and stepped into something else.

[total side note – isn’t it amazing how stepping back affords perspective? it’s a wonderful thing – but really only works if there is complete separation.]

I took a bus from my city to Bangkok, and took an early flight out over to Ho Chi Minh City. We arrived at 9 something in the morning, picked up our visas, and hit the city.

Me and five other girls checked into our hotel and settled in.

We were there from Saturday morning through Wednesday morning, when we left, and got back into my city Wednesday evening.

I don’t want to bore you with the blow by blow account of what we did, but let me list a few highlights:

1. Shopping at the Benh Tha market (I totally misspelled that). It’s full of all kinds of handicrafts and fake goods – my friend asked a lady if her high-end perfumes were real, and her eyes got big. “Of course they are fake – why do you think they are so cheap?”

2. Traffic. Oh goodness, vehicles stayed so close on the roads, and motorbikes were everywhere. When the traffic lights would change, all directions would be driving: seriously, all four ways. It’s a miracle we didn’t see accidents everyday.

3. Media fast. I know this isn’t part of Ho Chi Minh City, but I took a media fast. Didn’t even turn my computer on in Ho Chi Minh. It was WONDERFUL. It’s so easy to get sucked in to technology to where you can’t start the day without checking facebook and email, but man, it gets out of control fast. It was so awesome to not do it at all.

4. French and Asian Fusion. The two cultures meld together in odd funny ways. Architecture is clearly french. Street food often includes baguettes filled with an Asian mystery meat, topped with spicy peppers.

5. Meat. This sounds strange, but Thailand has high import taxes. That means that a lot of foods come from here, or are super expensive. All over Ho Chi Minh, I found places to eat that had imported meat from Australia or New Zealand. It was wonderful. I got to scratch the itch that I’ve had for beef. I imagine that it was what heaven is like.

6. Perspective. Everything in Vietnam is told from the Vietnamese point of view. Huge thing – the Vietnam War. We checked out the War Remnants Museum, where I didn’t want to talk (cause it would reveal my American accent), and other monuments in the area. It was interesting, but it only showed one side of the story.

7. The Deck restaurant. No, seriously, this is a highlight. Hidden away on the banks of the Saigon river, this swanky restaurant is hidden away from the beaten path. Our taxi driver got lost, but it was worth it to get this food. I ate an Ostrich steak (which was like eating a tender beef steak), baby potatoes, and a drink made of 7up and chunks of fresh mango. It was wonderful – we watched the river as we chatted the evening away. It was 10:45 pm before I even glanced at a clock, the atmosphere was so nice and just relaxing.

I’ll quit with the highlights there, but it was just a wonderful experience. Vacation really is a refreshing time.

I’ll post pictures later on my flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lifeinthaiblog so check them out!

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