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May, 2018:

Believe it or not, this is downtown.

Ho Chi Minh City is a huge city with millions of residents, but there are still parks with towering old-growth trees.  This makes the city different from many other cities in Asia, and I love it.

I’ve been in Vietnam for almost a year already (holy cow, how did time go by so fast?), and I’m looking for my next assignment.  Wherever I go, it will be amazing and wonderful, but it’s hard to imagine a city as livable as Ho Chi Minh City.

So sleepy

I choose to believe that he is tuckered out after a long early-morning ride, and just stopped in the park to rest.

Any port in a storm

McDonald’s is a perfectly acceptable place to apply one’s makeup, right? Right?

What I was doing in McDonald’s is not relevant, so don’t judge me. 🙂

Are the two mutually exclusive?

Wild but well-educated.

Happy 128th birthday, Uncle Ho

Ho Chi Minh referred to himself as “Uncle Ho,” which is strange in at least two ways. First, all evidence is that his name was actually Nguyen, not Ho. But more importantly, the way Vietnamese people call their real uncles is not by their last name, but by their first. So if he were my real uncle, I should call him Uncle Minh, not Uncle Ho.

Anyway, it’s his birthday. Big deals of this are being made all over town.

“Chairman Ho Chi Minh Lives forever in our cause” (which cause that is is also forever undefined).


A scarlet A is so 17th century


Don’t get comfort until you need it.

The city where I served in my first posting was large, but not very international. Western food (beyond McDonald’s) wasn’t very popular there. After too many disappointments, I gave up looking for decent pizza. Tex-Mex was another scarcity. Chinese people tend not to like it, so it’s pretty rare in China. There was one Mexican food place in town. One of my friends said that it was a good idea not to eat at that place too soon after arriving in China, it was better to wait until you had been in China for several months before going there. This was because although it was pretty good, it wasn’t quite the same as in America.

That point was driven home for me yesterday when a group of us went to eat at an American style diner in Ho Chi Minh City. The decor of the place was really good, it felt like a typical small American restaurant. The menu was also full of very familiar options. We were all very impressed, and look forward to our comfort food. I ordered a breakfast entrée, because what’s more comforting than an American breakfast?

The food was not disappointing. My smoked salmon and Swiss cheese scrambled eggs was just what the doctor ordered. All of us were very happy with our food.

Now, to be honest, it wasn’t exactly, 100% the same as American diner food. I think if I had gone to that restaurant right after leaving America, I would have been disappointed, or at least I would have had a very different opinion of the food. However, after having been away from American food for several months, it was a nice taste of home. I will be back.

But maybe not for a few weeks.

By the way, the place is called “The Diner V.” You can Google it.

You have to wonder about signs like this

There are propaganda posters and banners everywhere in Vietnam, it’s part of the communist culture, I guess.  Some are pretty benign, like telling everybody to celebrate Labor Day.  Occasionally, though, I see a banner that really makes me wonder what’s going on.

Like this one, for example.  This was displayed prominently, on a major street near where I live:

“Don’t make consumer alcohol from industrial alcohol.”

I think that’s generally good advice.  I wouldn’t want to drink alcoholic beverages that were made from industrial alcohol, and I assume that most people would have the same preference as I.  But why exactly does the government feel the need to make banners promulgating this sage advice common sense?

To my pea-sized brain, the government has two reasons to put out these propaganda banners.  One is to spread its message and “educate” the people.  Like the Labor Day message, for example.  The other is to address a problem that has occurred.  Since I don’t think that telling people how not to make alcoholic beverages is high on the need for public education, my conclusion is that some people have been making consumer alcohol from industrial alcohol.  Which is pretty scary.

This should be everywhere

Gotta love the idea of a coffee shop on the back of a scooter.

Two kinds of sadness

“The sadness you don’t see. The sadness you don’t know.”