Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 15 - Last day in Saigon

The guys spent one more day in Saigon and did a lot of walking and exploring.

Any one for a snack or two or 3
or 100?

Andy, are you trying to look Vietnamese?

What's with all the paperwork?

Do you think we can find a restaurant
down this street?

What, no tour buses?

You sure Kim Cafe has good food?

Loan, how about your cell number?

Last meal together in Vietnam

I was supposed to meet the guys at 9 AM with a DVD of all the pictures we took on the trip, but had problems burning the disc.  We ended up transferring around 800 pictures for them on a flash drive, and I didn't get to Saigon until 5 PM.

The first picture is a man delivering snacks to different stores.  His load is about five foot wide and 6 foot high and there is no way he can see behind him.  When you see him you go wide around him as you don't know when he is going to turn.  The snacks cover his turning signals and brake lights, if they are even working.

When you take a picture of a Vietnamese they will not do 3 in a picture as that is bad luck and they all want to hold their hand with the peace sign.  Pat is just writing his address for me.  He offered me a place to stay when I come to Oregon, so I figured I better have his address.

We went for a walk looking for a place to eat dinner and ended up at Kim Cafe right next to the hotel they were staying in.  It is on De Tham Street (pronounced like day tahn) which is a area where a lot of foreigners and back packers stay, and also point of origin for tours with lots of big buses all of the time.  When I lived in Saigon I used to go to Kim Cafe ever night to eat my dinner as it was good food and the price was right ($2.50 for steak, fries, salad and something to drink).  It is a family that owns it and they were always very nice to me, and they remembered me after 4 or 5 years of not being there.  Loan was our waitress and she spoke pretty good English.  She also took the last picture of us together enjoying our meal.

It has been a long two weeks and we are all tired.  It was a great trip and saw a lot of things and made many friends, but it will be good to get home and back to our routines.  I am going to miss these guys but hopefully we can stay in touch.  They will be leaving at about 6 AM from the airport and 3:30 from hotel.  I have two daughters that live very close to them and I hope to see them when I go to visit Amy and Holly.

I hope everyone enjoyed the blog and if you know of anyone that might like to take a trip over here let me know.  You don't have to be a Veteran for me to do a trip.  

See you all next time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 14 - Saigon

A day in Saigon

Yahoo ca phe sua da curbside

Duy, you sure this is your office?

Duy, you sure it's OK to take pictures?

Pat, how much is that diamond worth?

This is pretty good.  
I think it is worth more.

Duy, how many different steps are there?

Keep your hand steady. 

I think I got it!

I just finished making this tool.

Just window shopping dear!

Today we went to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and did some sightseeing.  Our photographer was our driver today so not to many pictures.

We met Duy, who is a diamond cutter and toured his office and workshop.  Duy was one of the first people I met when I came to Vietnam in 1999.  His office is on the street where he meets his customers and has some coffee.  Ca phe sua da is very strong coffee mixed with some sweet and condensed milk over ice.  It is great and I try to have it every morning and sometimes afternoon and evening.

After we had coffee we went up to Duy's workshop where he explained the whole procedure in cutting diamonds.  He claims it is very simple, but I didn't understand half of it.  He specializes in different kinds of cutting.  In one procedure he is the only person in all of Asia that can do it and the other procedure there is one other person in Vietnam that can do it.  A lot  of the equipment is very expensive so he makes it himself.  We were all quite impressed with Duy and his business which he just started 4 years ago.

Next door to Duy's work shop is An Dong Market where you can buy just about anything.  I went and had more coffee while the guys did some window shopping.

We were getting hungry and went to the Lion Restaurant in a 5 star hotel and enjoyed a huge buffet.  After lunch we drove around to see Saigon and Saigon South.  Saigon South is a completely new modern city.  Every where you look the are building skyscrapers, bridges, tunnel under Saigon River and many other things.  No recession here.

One more day in Saigon and then the guys will return to home.  Dale has to get home to retire from his job.  Phuc, our photographer, is making DVD's of all the pictures he took on this trip and I will bring them down to the guys in the morning.  Not to sure what they will do tomorrow.  They are in an area where all of the backpackers congregate and lots of foreigners.  Most of the people in this area speak English so they will do just fine.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 13 - Mui Ne, Phan Thiet and Di An

Sunrise at Mui Ne

Fresh Shrimp anyone?

You mean he spent all night in
that tub fishing?

Breakfast anyone?

What is dragon fruit?

Rice fields and dragon fruit

That does look like a dragon

What does it taste like?
Is it hot like fire?

That looks good

No, we can't take them home with us

Playing marbles

It doesn't look anything like it did in 1969

Whiskey Mountain

Our Base Camp was up on top of that hill

That was the best dinner of the whole trip

Bao Chau's English class

Are you teaching or trying to learn English?

Thanks Bao Chau, but I don't want the
 job of teaching English.

We started the morning with a beautiful sunrise at the beach in Mui Ne.  The fishermen had been out all night and were the wives were selling their catch of the night.  You can see one of the round boats they use for fishing out in the ocean.  Many people from the local restaurants come to buy the sea food they will sell.  It is a very hard life that they have.

We traveled a few miles to the Phan Thiet area where Andy was stationed in 1969.  It has changed a lot over the last 43 years and almost unable to recognize anything.  As you can see they grow rice and dragon fruit in this area which is East of Phan Thiet and called Thuan Hoa.  The dragon fruit is red and the inside is white with little black seeds.  There is not a lot of taste to it.  It is soft and juicy and a little sweet.

We visited with the local people, some school children and some boys playing marbles.  I tried my hand at it, but you can guess how that turned out.

One of Andy's job in this area was to protect Whiskey Mountain which had a transmission tower on it.

We then went to the South side of Phan Thiet to look for Andy's base camp.  We were able to get close but it is a current military area and they don't like foreigners in this area.

We continued our trip back to the Bien Hoa area and the Diamond Hotel to spend the night.  We did go to Di An where Bao Chau and family live and had dinner with them.  It was an excellent meal.  After eating we joined her in the classroom to talk with her students.  They like to have foreigners come to the class but they get a little shy and it is difficult to talk much with them.  They like to ask questions and not much more.  however, we did enjoy our time in the class.

Tomorrow we are going to Saigon and do some sightseeing and spend a couple of nights before we fly home.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 12 - Cam Ranh Bay & Mui Ne

Cam Ranh Bay

17th Century Temple 

Who is this stranger in the helmet? 

Andy why are you wearing a helmet?

For being a tropical country
that looks pretty dry

Are we to the beach yet?

No fences?

OK  We will lead you home

Yahoo!!! Sun and warm weather

Andy, where are you going in such a hurry?

No, she is not the cook

What are all those round tubs doing?

Are they catching our dinner?

Rub a dub dub one man in a tub

Today we traveled from Nha Trang to Mui Ne.  It was pouring down rain when we started out but quit a few miles down the road. It has rained all but 3 days of our trip, so the sunshine was welcomed.

The first place we stopped was Cam Ranh Bay International Airport, as this was where Andy flew into when he came to Vietnam 40 some years ago.

The next place was at a 17th Century Temple built by the local people that lived here.  They are built with rock and brick with no cement, just rock on rock.  While we were there a man on a motorcycle stopped to look also.  His name was Leo from Chek Republic.  He was headed for Ha Noi, and we wished him well as it is a long dangerous trip on motorcycle.  In the picture he has a helmet on.  Andy also found an old helmet and tried it on.

We continued on to Mui Ne and came across a herd of cattle just taking there time walking down the highway.  There was not anyone around watching them either.

Finally reaching Mui Ne we wasted no time to get to the beach and getting into the warm water.  I was the only one that did any swimming however.

The Vietnamese walking down the beach was selling fresh sea food.  She will also cook it right there for you.

The last three pictures are of fishing boats, and yes some of them are round and look like a tub.  It is amazing how fast they can get it moving with only one oar out the back.  Some of them fish all night and when they come into shore in the morning, their wife will meet them and get the fish and start selling right on the beach.

Tomorrow we will go to Phan Thiet and then back to Bien Hoa.

See you tomorrow.