For a second, I’m winding down after experiencing, justifiably, the swiftest 24 hours of travel ever. This amounted to me sprinting to and from halting queue, broken up by cramped pre-REM sleep and hide-and-go seek with babies. Flights are just stationary, seated queues. With movies and microwavable dinners.
I’m listening to distant motorbike honks and ready for a disco nap. Although a group of Argentinian party chicks just invited me out to pub crawl. So, here’s a bit of a recap.
1/14 – Last minute packing and sorting after a week of good-bye parties. Maybe it was Tuesday or Wednesday morning when I realized, the weekend didn’t end. And, there was still a final stretch before my departure. Got an e-mail late evening from the US Embassy Consular to come in for an emergency passport after they had previously told me I would be fine with having 178, not 180, days of validity on my passport.
1/15 – A couple hours of sleep later, retrieved my bike in a bon voyage dusting of snow. Printed the passport renewal form, rushed to the Embassy with my backpack. The guards had a laugh at me, gave them the old “I’m crazy” shrug and was promptly issued a temp. passport…3 hours before my flight. Subsequently I splurged on a cab. During which the cab driver shared some buddhist wisdom about ranking the “best place to be” as being wherever you are. Even though he snuck in a xenophobic comment about the refugee crisis, we hugged like he was my relative thus sending me off to my first line. I was the girl eating celery sticks.
First flight: delayed 20 minutes.
Four and a half hours later, arrived in Moskau! (With more customs checkpoints and a 3 minute window left to board my next plane.)
Next flight, I was sandwiched for 9+ hours. Sleptwatched a couple films and tried the Aeroflot food. I’d love to rewrite the menu descriptions, as always a bit more discolored than I had imagined.
1/16 Landed in SGN.
Was smacked with 30 C and another line for a remaining visa form, then waited for my visa to be picked up. Then a final customs line, and headed off to my stay and to get lunch. Ho Chi Minh City is congested, in spots run-down, gritty floral and vibrantly-colored. Lots of communist symbolism and flags everywhere. Also non-ironically being sold as souvenirs. On arrival the perfect combo of Cà Phê Sữa Dá & Phở (3 USD total) added to my delirious state of mind against the flourescently lit dining establishment, sending me into a slow-motion head-rush. Next I decided I’d follow-up some neon sign next door on massage. Headed to the 6th floor and could not turn down a 5 USD massage. Got suited in silk pajamas and realized it was more a gentleman’s spa but nevertheless bonded with my masseuse. We had a laugh after she walked over my back and chatted about culture, life and men. We’re both plagued by gender expectations as the women here are painfully thin. She claimed my goals should be, if I could stop laughing, to get me a husband from Singapore. The other women came in to check me out. She might come out later to see DJ Vadim & Minh Tan (a Berlin deejay, small world) play tunes.
As the sun hit me in the park, I headed back in an attempt not to knock out in the park.
Just met a dude who finds it “boring here” and so decided he’d leave in a day. He’s been “here” less than 24 hours. He’s on a 15 country journey lasting 18 months. Trying to hold back any judgements as the dude also mentioned he’d be into “EDM” later if that’s what was playing at the gig I described to him. I still have an insane visceral reaction to the utterance “EDM” but I get it not everyone knows how to describe electronic music and that’s okay.
I’m looking forward to seeing if I can fit in the Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels into the next couple days of being here before planning the course of my Vietnam portion of this trip.
FYI: On a 3 month adventure. I will be updating semi-regularly. Toto , habe ich ein Gefühl, das wir in Berlin mehr sind es nicht.
Also last thought, it’s a strange feeling when you are able to eavesdrop and understand in a different language and not speak at the same level of understanding. Ready to exercise and seriously warm up my dormant languages aka just 2nd grade level Spanish. Excited to acquaint myself with Tagalog too.