BUT FIRST MY LAYOVER IN HCMC..
I’m in Vietnam…only one more flight away!
I arrived at the Don Meuang Airport early and was very happy that my luggage was not overweight and that I did not have to worry about juggling all my belongings back and forth between the carry-on and the checked baggage to get the weight evened out. The flight went off without at hitch but once I arrived in HCMC it took about one hour to process my visa.
I was met at the airport by Mark one of the teachers who works at the HCMC school. We took a taxi to the backpacker district . Mark and I checked out 3 guesthouses. The first one I would have had to trek my luggage up about 4 flights of stairs….forget it – I was tired of dealing with the luggage, and for one night……..nope, that ain’t happening. The second place was pretty dumpy looking but the third place was just fine. It had an elevator….perfect. Mark told me that his sister, Leah would meet me at the guesthouse around 1:00 p.m. and take me out for the afternoon. Not only did I get to meet Leah but I also met her two nephews (Mark’s two sons) and her mother. Leah and her family were the most gracious hosts. They took me to a very nice restaurant and I tried some Vietnamese food that I was not familiar with and enjoyed a fresh fruit shake. By the way, it was also very apparent that I would need to learn to use chopsticks. Afterwards I was taken to the Reunification Palace . This palace was the home and the workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was also the site of the end of the Vietnam War when a North Vietnamese army tank crashed through its gates on April 30th 1975. The war room was in the basement and you can easily see how quickly technology has developed since the 60’s. The computer system took up close to half of one of the rooms.
I was glad that I had the opportunity to see the Reunification Palace as I did not have the opportunity to do so the previous year. After seeing the Palace I went back to my room and inquired where I could get a massage. Initially I was unable to find a place to have a massage but the staff at the guesthouse (Hotel 168 www.corp.com.vn) suggested that I have a massage done by one of the students at the massage school for the blind. I had a rough idea of how to get there and I asked a couple of people along the way if I was on the right track, which I was. Well, the massage was an experience. The massage itself was not too bad but all the masseuses did was talk on their cell phones and talk to each other over the partitioned curtains, which often resulted in a one-handed massage. It was very annoying. Then, when I went to leave, I could not figure out how to get out of the building and I definitely did not want to go to the men’s massage area, so I back-tracked and found my masseuse and explained to her that I did not know how to get out of the building. Obviously she couldn’t see my hand gesturing but somehow we connected and she led me out to the main entrance…now there is an example of the blind leading the blind!