Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Sai-"Gone"It was only two weeks ago that a mid-morning scramble due to lazyweb serendipity led to drinks, new companions, and a return to media and tech talk on the patio of the expat bar in southeast Asia later than night.
That's my lasting, strongest impression of Saigon. An impression which isn't exactly fair to a city as bustling, as industrious, and as interesting as South Vietnam's sprawling lattice of mixed-wealth, mixed-ideological collision.
It's now Ho Chi Minh City, officially. But it's Saigon to various people in various contexts. A gossamer identity. Which is nice - I shouldn't try and capture too much.
But hey - why muzzle a puppy? Saigon is a zillion provinces stretching from the sea to Cambodia. My small tourist-y centered view was all skyscrapers, markets, and restaurants. There's a low-level hum that accompanied our walks throughout. There was less honking by drivers. There was less high-pressure selling.
There was also Randall and his wife Thuy. How nice! Randall left a comment - we emailed, phone calls were made - and then ice cream and drinks. Randall is an expat who can fix your scooter, provided you need parts and you have a Vespa that you love tenderly like a newborn. You should go right now to his site which contains some of the most beautiful pictures of Cambodia you're ever likely to see. Hey, Randall - I like to think of you as a tinkerer by heart - and probably a closet programmer. You have an RSS reader, dude. You're pretty much in the club. :)
There was also Mike. We were introduced to each other digitally before we left and before our friend-in-common (Eric) began a journey of self-discovery that would lead directly to a horse's death. (More later.) We emailed, phone calls were made - and then dinner! Mike is working in Vietnam and may return as the most knowledgeable digital-information-gatherer in Vietnam. You heard it here first.
There was also Dat. Dat is Mai's cousin who has lived in Vietnam his entire life. He is young, energetic, talented, and smart. Also funny. (I'm a big fan of funny.) With no language training or schooling - perfect English. Of Vietnamese, I learned cam ôn or "thank you" and to my dissappointment could apparently retain no further non-English information. My hope is that Dat was not as dissappointed by language inadequacies as I was. :)
How we just managed to hook up that night with Randall's friends who are involved with Vietnamese cinema is best left to astrologists to explain.*
*A joke, sure, but I find my vacation experiences hazy in retrospect - such is the imperanence of recollection when I'm just trying to experience things and not chronicle 'em. Should've taken more pictures.