Sunday, September 09, 2007

Reflections of Our Vietnam Trip (Part 2)

Irene Tsai continues her refection on our friendship and our reunion trip to Vietnam in this post. To read Part 1 of this report, please click here.

After spending 2 days and 2 nights in northern Vietnam, we departed for Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), once again on Vietnam Airlines. Northern Vietnam is a lot quieter as compared to Saigon, where one encounters hustles and bustles everywhere. I felt there’s a touch of communist air walking around Hanoi. Funny enough, I got the exact same strange feeling walking on the streets of East Berlin the year the Wall came down. Like West Berlin, Saigon’s a lot more crowded, vibrant and colourful. But, one can see the French style buildings all over the country though. Lots of things caught my eyes in north Vietnam, but apart from the scenic Ha Long Bay districts, I was more at home in Saigon because my personality fits in better down south. I’ll let you see some of the local buildings I came across.

We walked through wide and narrow streets of Saigon, visited the War Museum, Former President Palace, City Theatre, City Hall Square, Notre Dame Cathedral and the sparkling French style Post Office with Ho Chi Minh’s Portrait high up on the main wall. I was glad that we had a chance to view some of the war time brutal military traps and the amazing experience of crawling inside the tight, dark Cu Chi Tunnels. That was an exciting experience of a life time. Thank God nobody had beans for lunch before we squeezed our lean bodies into the narrow dusty tunnel as we were four-legged, crawling very intimately one after another in the stuffy darkness. Can you just imagine what it would have been like for the rest of us if someone had the need to get rid of his/her excess stomach gas because of the curried beans they ate earlier!!! Potential Danger Zone indeed!
We were well fed throughout the week in Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine is colourful, tasty and delightful. Towards the end of our trip, we had a dinner boat cruise with professional singers and performers entertaining us right at the dinner table. We also went down the famous Mekong River, checked out Coconut Island and Orchard Island. Our flimsy little boats, filled with water inside, constantly rubbing against the tall lush tropical greens on both sides as we were paddled through by the local old women. I took a picture of a very interesting outdoor meal with the world’s biggest JEAN DUI (they call it the Dinosaur Egg) and the Stand Up Fish. Watch it, Kan Yu Tung, it’s about time you take a little break from it. Wasn’t that gigantic JEAN DUI so toothsome? Folks, here’s a shot to get your saliva gland going. Well, some of us fell in love with the Vietnamese language. Some fell in love with the local cuisine. Some men quietly fell in love with the pretty Vietnamese women. Others fell in love with the Vietnamese customs and culture. All in all, we had a great time in Vietnam. I was fascinated, bewildered and got blown away at times. It was great that we were able to let our hair down. A pack of us sitting at the back of the bus, joking and laughing our heads off the whole time. Mind you, we were never pretentious, our laughters did not come in subtle tints at all. I have to admit that we were borderline to out of control most of the time. Lin Jeh would have told us to double rinse our mouths with Listerine as a daily ritual had he been on that bus. Hey, we were just learning some simple, innocent everyday conversations in Vietnamese, which incidentally or unfortunately sounded like some graphic swearing in Cantonese. And that’s just the beginning of the fun parts throughout the trip. On a serious note…. Yes, there’s definitely room for growth in Vietnam, but for at least now, there’s peace and quiet and everyday normal life for the people in general. No more daily meaningless bombings, merciless death tolls, heartbreaking gun shot wounds everywhere, and no more crazy spraying of deadly herbicide in the skies all over the forests. You can see Vietnamese men relaxing, laughing, drinking, playing chess and sitting around lazily on the streets these days. Here’s a picture of the awesome Vietnam crew - our grand finale as we were making our victory exit at our hotel in Saigon, heading to the airport for our outbound flight back to Hong Kong on Day 6.

Finally, my dear friends:
Let us not forget that our 40th Grand Reunion was here to confirm and remind us of the great legacy which we all are part. And let the end of our Vietnam Trip not mark the end of our Grand Reunion, but the beginning of our endless creative friendship renewals for many, many more happy and healthy years to come. Like Lin Jeh always says, “May God Bless us all!”

Reporting from Toronto, Irene Tsai of 1C, August, 2007


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