From Vietnam with love: it's all about people - Dal Vietnam con amore:la gente soprattutto

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Driving, Spas and Chinatown

June 18. Today marks our first week here! And Marco is ALREADY DRIVING the car!! He is very brave! Actually the traffic isn't as scary as I'd feared since it's mostly motorbikes and it moves pretty slow. But still, you have to try to pay attention on all sides since motorbikes and cars try to sneak in where they can and THEY don't seem to be watchingwhere they're going...

Our car has diplomatic plates - the only ones I've seen around town so far. The advantage is that we can go anywhere with the car, so that if there's a bird flu epidemic and they're limiting traffic to the airport we can go right through. Apparently Marco's predecessor worked hard to get them. On Saturday we drove out to the suburbs where the ex-pats live, to see how it is and also to go to a big discount store there (something akin to Sam's Club). Maia threw up in the car, because it bounces around a lot. It seems like the shock absorbers need to be replaced.

I also went to a wonderful spa - sleek and Asian in design, with white flowers and bamboo, very peaceful and quiet and smelling wonderful. The staff was courteous and professional and I had a wonderfully relaxing aromatherapy massage for an hour and it only cost $25! I want to go back for a fancy facial. I feel vaguely guilty taking advantage of the relatively low cost of the spa (it would have been at least $100 in Washington), but not guilty enough not to go!

Today we went to Cho Lon, the Chinatown area. It drizzled continuously, which put a damper on the outing (ha ha) but it was still interesting. We ate in a little local hole in the wall that was mentioned in the Lonely Planet, and had really tasty noodle soup with pork and giant shrimp, served like in Thailand with a plate of bean sprouts and herbs. Then we walked down the street of shops that sell Chinese herbs and strange things such as shark fins and preserved whole cobras and went to see some ornate pagodas. That part of town is quite different from the richer business/tourist district where we live and Marco works. It’s poorer and there are very few foreigners going around, and few cars other than taxis and trucks.


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