Winder and I rode up from Chau Doc, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia earlier today. Right now Winder is off at Tuol Sleng and the killing fields – and I am heading back to the hotel to jump in the pool. Tomorrow we go to Siem Reap and then Monday and Tuesday we will tour Angkor Wat. Heading back to Saigon Tuesday night. We’ve taken a lot of pics – just don’t have the ability to post them right now. Later.
Dad and I met Thao and her family, my Vietnamese teacher Co Phuc and her daughter, and another couple we’re friends with, Thu and Tam, for dinner at Ngoc Suong restaurant last night. We had a great time and ate and drank a lot!
Dad and Thao in front of the restaurant:
Thao’s niece, Bao Ngan (now 7 months old), and her mom:
Dad and Thao’s aunt – she speaks a little English and she and dad hit it off (for anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while, that is the same aunt that rode home on the back of Thao’s motorcycle from Long An to Saigon that time it rained so hard and the roads were flooded):
With Co Phuc (my Vietnamese teacher):
Dad and Thao’s brother – I think dad is asking for a time-out from drinking beer:
Thu and Tam:
Thao’s aunt and mom (behind the steam):
The making of the toasts:
Thao, aunt #1, mom, aunt #2:
Thao, her brother, Thu, and Tam:
Co Phuc and her daughter:
Thao and Tam:
Thao’s brother kept challenging dad to drink their beers “mot tram phan tram” (100%) – meaning to shotgun the whole glass of beer. Dad would slam his and then make fun of Thao’s brother for taking so long to drink his. It was really funny. Thao’s brother was very drunk by the end of the night:
Dad and I are off on our trip to the Mekong Delta and Cambodia later this morning. Our driver is picking us up at dad’s hotel at 9:00am. Thao will ride with us to Long An, where we’ll drop her off at her family’s house there.
So far I think dad is having a good time!
Post the having of the coffee:
At the traditional market: “What the hell is that?”
What the hell IS that?
Taking the obligatory oncoming traffic photo:
Le Loi Street downtown at Tet:
A big pile of stuffed animals:
The photodocumenting of the photodocumenting of a big pile of stuffed animals:
An amazingly empty Ben Thanh market – and if you’ve ever been to Ben Thanh market when it’s in full swing, you know how amazing this photo truly is:
Similarly empty butcher shop at Ben Thanh market:
Wait! Tell me those aren’t rats in Ben Thanh market!?!
Let’s get the hell out of here:
We stumble upon another dragon dance:
Dad meets Thao:
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s official. Winder has set foot in Vietnam. Here is my first sighting of him at the airport this morning:
Coming out of the airport:
Getting the hell out of there:
He was pretty beat when he got here – as well he should be after a total of 36 hours door-to-door (!). He used his frequent flier miles so let’s just say he didn’t exactly get the choicest connections. Unless you consider Minneapolis to Portland to Tokyo to Taipei to HCMC choice.
Anyway, he got here about 10:30 this morning. We came by my apartment and hung out for a while, let him take a shower, etc. Then we went and walked around downtown for a couple of hours. Ate lunch at Good Morning Vietnam, where we had two huge greek salads and a big pizza. Nothing like authentic Vietnamese food that first day in Vietnam!
We had a couple of beers with lunch and then afterward at an Irish pub, Sheridan’s. Then came back to my place, picked up Winder’s bags, and went and got him checked into his hotel – which is nice and about 5 minutes away from my apartment.
After we got him checked in, I took off and, if I was to guess, I would say he has probably been asleep for about an hour or so now already. He was a tired dude.
Anyway, I left him my cell number and told me if he wakes up tonight at 8:00 or 9:00pm and wants to meet for dinner to give me a call. But I doubt that is going to happen – I suspect he’s down for the night. The default plan is I will meet him back at his hotel at 7:00am. Early for me, but I bet he is going to wake up wide awake about 3:30am, so that will work fine for him. No plans tomorrow but to tool around HCMC and meet Thao and her family for dinner tomorrow night. Then Thursday morning we head off on our trip to the Mekong Delta, Cambodia, etc.
Winder was kind enough to bring me my new camera, and I am so stoked about it. It is a Canon XSi, 12.1 megapixel, and it is a beast. I bought the extra battery grip to go with it, which holds two batteries at one time. Also an 8GB memory card. So I think I’m set. Here are some photos of the new cam taken with the old cam:
And here are some photos I took with the new camera while we were out and about today:
Winder at Notre Dame cathedral:
Balloon sellers in front of the opera house:
Winder on Nguyen Hue (Duong Hoa):
A dude and his chickens:
A cute dog we saw:
One of the Chinese lunar new year dudes you see parading around all over town – not sure who he is or what the significance is, but you see this guy everywhere:
Usually accompanied by this guy:
You don’t see that everyday in Minneapolis!
9:05pm. Sounds like a good time to go to bed. I met my buddy Anton at 9:00am this morning. He rented a motorbike and we promptly set out to drive “all over creation.” We got lost way out in Binh Tan district and it took a while to get back. We rode motorbikes from about 9:00am until probably about 6:00pm. Fun day but tiring. Then we went and drank about six big beers. I’m thoroughly tired, if not drunk, and heading to bed now. Mean Wind-O rolls in in about 13 hours. Thao is still in Long An. Hope everyone is doing well. Peace, earthlings!
Thao left for Long An today so it’s been kind of a quiet day for me. She got up and left about 7:30am – I saw her off then went back to sleep and slept until almost 11:00am. I have no idea why, but I can sleep forever over here.
I didn’t do a whole lot today. Saigon’s kind of dead – it seems like about half the city has emptied out for Tet. Everyone goes back to their respective countryside. Even my maid left today for Hanoi – so that doesn’t bode well for the cleanliness of my apartment.
I screwed around on the computer this morning. I wanted to try out Microsoft’s “new” operating system, Windows 7, which has been released in beta for developers to play around with. I installed Virtual PC on my laptop and set up a virtual pc running Windows 7. I wasn’t all that impressed. To be fair, I haven’t had many problems with Vista like tons of people apparently have. The only time I’ve used Vista is on this new laptop, and it’s plenty fast and has plenty of RAM so Vista has run pretty well for me. I’ve had a few minor driver issues, but nothing I wasn’t able to solve.
Regarding Windows 7, I agree with the other reviews I’ve read that said it is basically SP1 (service pack 1) for Vista rather than an entirely new operating system. Vista has been such a debacle for Microsoft that they basically just wanted to move beyond it. So rather than updating Vista, they’re coming out with a “new” operating system. I played around with Windows 7 for a while and didn’t find it all that compelling. To be fair, it was running a little more slowly than Vista but probably because I was running it on a virtual machine vs. natively. It wasn’t anything I’d use in place of Vista, especially not with the performance hit, so until they come out with the final version and I can actually use it to replace Vista, I have no need for it. So I uninstalled Virtual PC and deleted all traces of Windows 7 from my system.
Basically what I realized today is that I’m not all that interested in what operating system I’m using. My Firefox browser is basically my operating system – what I can’t do with Firefox and the available add-ons, including Greasemonkey and it’s numerous userscripts, I generally don’t do. The only installed desktop applications I rely on heavily are Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and iTunes. And the only reason I use those vs. an online version is because for now the desktop apps are still faster and more responsive. I say for now because I think as Google continues to improve Chrome and Gears, Google will essentially be able to have hybrid online/desktop applications that do everything I am able to do on the desktop applications now and equally quickly. Basically, all I want from an actual operating system is for it to do its job quietly in the background and get out of my way.
Okay, enough geek ranting. So after dorking out on the computer all morning, reading a book, etc., I went out and cruised around my neighborhood with my camera again. Here are some pics:
Some memorial/monument near my house that I hadn’t seen before. I don’t know what it says, but given that it appears to show Vietnamese people going from being ordinary citizens to carrying machine guns, I imagine it has some application to the U.S.’s “Vietnam Conflict” 40 or so years ago:
Going to be a tight fit there:
The big-ass building they’re building right next to Tim’s office:
How would you like to be the electrician to have to sort these out?
This doesn’t really seem to be a good idea in Saigon traffic:
Doughnuts! (I don’t know why I always like these photos that are basically just textures, but I do.):
The big park a block away from my house where Thao and I go walking and I go running (sometimes):
Gettin’ that gas:
A pretty typical Saigon block:
Ki, the guard dog at my apartment complex, getting his grub on:
He’s a cool dog. He’s still a little wary of me, being the only white person living in our building. He usually lets me pet him, and sometimes even acts excited to see me, but occasionally he still growls at me.
That’s it. I’m sitting here drinking a Tiger beer and getting ready to watch a movie I downloaded. I’m meeting my buddy Anton at 9:00am tomorrow morning and we’re going to drive down to Chinatown to see if we can catch some Chinese dragon parades, etc., tomorrow being the first day of Tet. I’ll take my camera and try to get some good shots.
I think I’m taking more photos lately because I’m getting excited about my new camera coming with my dad on Tuesday. I talked to my dad last night – one last chat before he gets on the plane for Vietnam on Sunday (Minnesota time). He sounds ready and I think he’s all set unless he forgets his passport or something like that! I’ll pick him up at the airport on Tuesday morning.
Happy Chinese Lunar New Year!!! Chuc Mung Nam Moi!!!
My buddy Aaron (who some of you know and/or remember if you’ve read this blog for any length of time) just got back from a trip to Morocco. He took some amazing photos. A sampling is below, and here’s a link to his gallery (if it works): Aaron’s Morocco Photos
T-minus three days and counting until Hurricane Winder (or I guess Typhoon Winder since we’re in Southeast Asia) rolls into town. Thao is leaving to visit her family in the countryside tomorrow morning, and I won’t see her again for about three days, so we hung out all day today.
First, we had a nice breakfast at Jaspa’s on Dong Khoi Street downtown:
A look you don’t see to often – in Vietnam or, thankfully, anywhere else: the bald mullet:
The goatee – AKA “Thao’s Bane” – is back! Woo-hoo!
For the Tet holiday every year, they close off Nguyen Hue Street downtown and call it Duong Hoa – Street of Flowers. They have all kinds different flower and plant arrangements. Here’s Thao in front of a field of rice:
Some cute kids:
Thao posing with the gourds (I have no idea):
Walking across the log bridge:
All those kisses for mom:
Catching himself in the mirror via cellphone cam:
The Vietnamese love to pose (Note: That is not Thao – just some random Vietnamese woman I saw posing):
I thought this was an interestingly framed little photo:
I started out taking photos of these kids because the two girls are wearing ao dais like Thao gave my niece, C, for Christmas, but then the littlest girl starting busting out the poses and really reminded me of C even more:
Bringing in the Year of the Buffalo (Nam Con Trau):
Feel free to ignore the following – I just thought it was an interesting old building front:
One last shot of Thao at the grocery store where we went to to buy some tea after cruising Duong Hoa:
That’s all I got. Hopefully a lot more photos to come from when Winder is here – and with the new camera too! Woo-hoo!