I've been in Vietnam for 3 days now. I think some of you knew I was leaving for here and some of you are well, surprised?
Things have been a bit chaotic from the get go. I sat next to a very eccentric and jovial Vietnamese-American (Thien) on the plane who is a presbyterian pastor in Stockton, CA. He insisted that we pray before eating our airline food, and for some reason I obliged. He seemed to shadow me on and off the plane. In the bathroom in Hong Kong I was washing my face when I heard him shout from the bathroom stall "Paul! Paul! Wait for me Paul!" Before the stop over in Hong Kong the plane had to make an emergency landing in Beijing because a man on the back of the plane was having a heart attack. I was only half awake for this though, as I was catching some valium induced, jet-lag preempting sleep.
Once in Saigon, Thien's brother kindly gave me a ride to a hotel in the city, this was after, of course, I had to hold hands with the entire family and thank jesus for our safe arrival in Vietnam.
His brother brought me to a hotel that I discovered in the daytime was very far from any tourist center. This first day I felt very alien walking around and orientating myself- a lot of strange looks and odd laughs from the locals, not to mention I felt really tall. After a nights stay closer to the cental area of Saigon I left for Da Lat the next morning. Saigon felt very congested, polluted and disorienting after just getting off a plane from the states. I'm sure when I return in a month's time I will have the temperment to absorb the city's charms.
Da Lat is about 7 hours northeast of Saigon in the Central highlands. The environment reminds me a lot of the mountains in Colorado in the summer time - very dry and cool at night and a couple thousand meters from sea level. There is a strong French influence here - baguettes for breakfast and even a mini Eiffel Tower. Apparently this is the nation's "honeymoon spot" complete with plenty of Veitnamese kitsch and best of all - Vietnamese cowboys. It's all very entertaining and at the same time a pleasant and relaxing place...
until next time,
paulPaul 1 | Paul 2 | Paul 3 | Paul 4