Every day, for the past 2 weeks, I’ve emerged from Long Hostel around 9am to hitch a motorbike ride to work, never confident that I would arrive in one piece. Early on, this guy started waiting for me on his motorbike; I paid him $1 more than the customary $1.50 for the trip. He speaks no English whatsoever, so I have no idea of his name. I’ll call him Mr. Something. I will miss his cheerful face.
Last Few Days At The Hostel I didn’t know my plans early enough, so Sophie and I had to leave our neighboring single rooms and stay in the 5th floor dorm room for two nights. The $7/night savings does not make up for the risk that there will be a snorer in the room. (I have earplugs, but they only do so much. Plus they hurt after a few hours.)
Here she is on her bed! (That’s my bed with the yellow blanket.) Look how fiscally responsible she seems, counting her money:
We went out for some pho lunch again and Sophie had to stop for a coconut. Fortunately, I was there to document this seemingly mundane occasion:
At the pho place, you’ll never guess who we saw! “Mr. Cat” from this post. He was in the seat where Binh was sitting when we met him. Amazingly, Mr. Cat wasn’t staring at anything this time. Here’s the not-so-secret pic we took of him:
I slept horribly the first night in the dorm and better the second, but nothing like sleeping in my own room. Besides Sophie, the other 6 dorm guests over the 2 nights were: a really nice Singaporean guy (Burmese background) who was on college break from NUS, two British chicks who seemed weird and to themselves, a self-absorbed 40-something New Zealand guy who wouldn’t shut up about his travels via teaching English and this guy, Jake:
I don’t remember where he was headed (Bangkok maybe?) but he was also on break from NUS in Singapore. He’s from Buffalo, NY and studying accounting in some semester-abroad thing. Sophie stayed out with him later than I did, and said he got increasingly “America’s the best” with her as the night wore on. (At one point, even citing average starting salaries of Harvard graduates to support his argument.) As you can imagine, I’m sorry to have missed that fun.
I won’t (really) miss Pham Ngu Lao. The 6-by-2-block backpacker area is a microcosm of tourists and the people who make their money off them. Travel agencies, bars and restaurants line streets jam-packed with tourists, animals, touts, traffic and locals selling everything from hammocks to weed. All of Saigon isn’t like this. The neighborhood where I work is much more calm and everyday-normal-feeling.
Here we are sitting at a bar on Bui Vien. Dozens of visitors sit in plastic toddler chairs, drink cheap 50¢ beer and watch everything that comes down the street.
I will miss Sophie, though!
New Place Here’s my new home for the next two weeks, a room right around the corner from work. Usually you can’t rent a room for less than a month, but an American guy, Chris, helped me snag a room upstairs from him. It’s a bit of a dump, but will do for 2 weeks and isn’t bad for $130. (See the TV going? That’s FashionTV. Oh yes, it is. )