Saturday, January 21, 2012

Good morning, Vietnam!


January 21, 2012: Two Hours to Vietnamese Beach Bliss

Almost wheels up to Phu Quoc, Vietnam! I’m meeting up with my friend Sulaine, who I met in India, there. We’lI be there for Lunar New Year… yay! I was supposed to be on an earlier flight, but I’d have to wake up at 4am to catch that flight. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I got a seat on an Air Mekong flight.

To be honest, I really don’t like Bangkok. It is probably thanks in no small part to the plethora of old, white creepers and their much younger Thai girlfriends/mistresses/ladyboys. Wherever these men came from, they would stand no chance with a comparable beautiful woman. But they come there and prey on these girls and their poor economic situation, their willingness to do whatever they can for a way out. Some may argue it’s a mutually-beneficial agreement—guys get sex, girls get a measure of financial security. But I more than once saw these pale-faced Rico Suaves verbally abuse these girls. I can only imagine what happens behind closed doors.

My first reaction to Bangkok—a reaction of which I am not proud—was how can Thai men allow these girls to do this? I’m not proud of this reaction because it’s obviously the girl’s choice and no man should be able to impose his will on a woman. But I mean, all of these girls have fathers/brothers/other family. Maybe I’ve spent too much time in the Arab world where there is a lot of emphasis placed on a woman’s honor. But even in America, I’d like to think my father would rather die than have me sell myself off to an old, ugly man.

But I loved Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City. Some lady at the airport told me horror stories of earrings being ripped out of ears and taxi cab drivers refusing to let their passengers go. She told a tough-looking Aussie man he was brave for doing HCMC alone, so I was a bit apprehensive about being a solo American chick. But I never felt unsafe, never had any problems. People either let me be or were friendly and talked with me. I even got asked to be in photos waving the ubiquitous Asian V sign. Everyone was cheerful and getting ready for the Lunar New Year. Decorations were up everywhere, families were out, young couples were taking photos. HCMC was easily walkable, which I liked as well. Too many interactions with taxi cab drivers usually turn me off from a city (see: Kuala Lumpur. Taxi cab drivers would either not stop, or if they did, tell you they wouldn’t take you to that place. Made no sense to me—after they drove off, they were without my fare and I was without a ride).

People out for Tet.

Also, Bill Clinton stayed at the hotel I stayed in while he was POTUS. If I paid big bucks, I could have spend the night in the Presidential Suite.

Happy Year of the Dragon!

I visited the War Remnants Museum in HCMC. I thought it would be something educational and relatively propaganda-free, but I think I had too high of expectations. I know Americans committed atrocities in Vietnam, but I can’t imagine atrocities were committed only on the side of the Americans and South Vietnamese. It was just photo after photo of scared villagers—which happened, yes, but not exactly balanced? I don’t know, I wish I knew the history better to be able to judge. There was also an exhibit on the ground floor showing all the “support” the anti-war people had, mostly from commies and leftists. No, I’m not a repub. But I hate all the troop-bashing, in Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. Some may have been assholes, but the majority are good men and women.

A US soldier holds a Vietnamese grenade victim. AQ's wet dream.

January 22, 2012—Vietnamese beach bliss, contained

Last night I tried signing on to facebook to update my status, perhaps upload some photos, and to my surprise, it was blocked. Why the surprise? In hindsight, I remember reading the government blocked such sites. But it worked in HCMC, for me but not my friends. Not sure why yet…

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