A wise man once said....

"When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new." Dalai Lama

Monday, 6 July 2009

Sai Gon...and Coffee Shops

Well, no Thailand this weekend. It was off to Sai Gon, Viet Nam for a few days. Main purpose was to celebrate Liam’s Birthday and watch the British and Irish Lions play the last of the three match series. Being already 2-0 down we did not expect too much from them, but surprisingly they managed to win 28 -9. But a good surprise result.
We, Wanna and I went over Friday night on Air Asia, and met up with Liam and Thuy the next morning. They had booked us into a small boutique type hotel in the mainly ‘Back Packer’ Pham Ngo Lau area. So the first evening Wanna and I spend walking around and taking in the views and getting an evening meal. All felt very familiar. The plan was an early night, well it almost happened! We stopped off on the way back to the hotel for some road side grilled mussels and sea shells. That we did, even thought we had just eaten. Staggered home a few kilos heavier. having spend several hours watching the world walk by.
Normally when I go to new places I take a lot of photos but this short trip we ran out of time and also we were so busy. Doing what you ask?. Well drinking beer, eating Vietnamese food and generally just walking around. So it seemed on reflection that getting out the camera was not high on our list. In fact it just luck and force of habit that I took any shots at all. It was out only out about 3 times. I suppose in fairness as an excuse, I had lived in Viet Nam for about 4 ½ years so the things you normally take photos of I was taking for granted and they just did not seem new. I had already ‘been there, done that already’ if you follow my drift. The usual pictures of the town hall, post office Catholic Church etc were not on my list of ‘to do’s’. (I did do one small on of the Town Hall). So the few photos are really of the not so normal Viet Nam…. Bear with me. (The first photo below is the Town Hall!) Saturday morning found us out and about, and I did carry the camera. First stop was to a glasses shop having lost mine on the way over. At least for the rest of the weekend I could see where I was going. We then took a taxi to the down town area and had a leisurely walk along the old roads, where so much had changed,. The shops, bars and restaurants I remembered had either moved or closed or just vanished to be replaced by a new high rise. Amazing pace of development. Added to which there were about 100 % more cars on the road and everyone on the bikes were wearing safety helmets. Unheard of 5 years ago. So on we walked Slowly, as it was getting warm.. . As were our temperaments...
Everybody knows Viet Nam is world famous for coffee and we did managed to find one shop in particular with a really amazing wide selection. All very tempting. And gave us a chance to sit down for a few minutes. Some good coffee was available selling 100gms fresh ground for about 1US$. Not bad in fact an excellent deal. And so I bought several (lots of) different flavours including vanilla (my favourite) and cinnamon and nutmeg. All Mocha type coffee. Only last week when in Khon Kaen I had retrieved my espresso machine so now was impatient to get back home to use it and try out these new wonderfully smelling flavours. Yum!
Coming out of the shop and crossing the road I spotted a row of motor bikes with a collection of white gloves laid out to dry. That did make of an interesting shot! Why white gloves and why dry them on the back of motor bikes. I have no idea.
It was then along the walk that I did take a few shots. I had early said my photos of this trip were unusual but having reviewed them I think they offer a good ‘feel’ to what you will see when you make it over there.
We spotted a Lady Monk and several street hawkers. All going about their business. And believe you me they are quite persistent in trying to sell you any and everything.


We were having a great time but, Liam was determined that we have a lunchtime beer. We followed him convinced he knew where he was going. He did and we found 4 or was it 5 of his favourite haunts. All just round the next corner....And they were ther, we found them all. And all were closed.... After this we were all getting a bit parched and irritable. Back to Pham Ngo Lau for a cold beer. Plenty of places there to quench our thirst. The rest of the day flew by. As proved by Liam....
Sunday morning saw us catch up with our good friend Mr Tu. He joined us for breakfast at the hotel then insisted in taking us out to meet friends and again have a lunchtime beer. This time the place was open. This was followed by a rush back to the hotel. Check out and get to the airport. Rush rush rush. We had a quick beer at the departure lounge and back home.
This morning saw me going back to work. Needed to fill up the truck with fuel. First thing I see is a lovely coffee shop!!
Maybe coffee drinking is really catch on in Thailand. Hope so., save me having to go to Sai Gon to buy ground coffee.
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