Thursday, February 14, 2013

Straws and Atmosphere

Sidenote:Have you noticed you've stopped labeling your posts? This stupid new interface sucks. It's been a while we've had it but there it is. I digress.

Nha-Trang which will come to be known in my mind as the most annoyingly mediocre place I've ever been to is also where I lost my ipod. Not that we can believe that by degrees I'm losing my electronic devices. May there be a hedge of protection around my camera and laptop. I lost it somewhere between getting my pack from the hotel and going to check in at the bus depot. Weirdly I still have my headset which leaves me curious as to whether I lost it or it was stolen. But I don't remember. I checked my ipod because I wanted to know what time it was. I might have detached the earbuds to do this at one point but I don't know and then put it in the sidepocketofdeath? Maybe? Whatever. It was just another kick in the back for which I will blame nha trang for, and one that I didn't discover until the next day. In addition to the bus company dropping me off a full hour before schedule in Saigon. A good thing if it weren't 530am on a grubby dark street with taxis pestering me. A guy a bunk over was complaining nonstop and I think I overheard him say we were suppose to stop at one point and we didn't. Needless to say not happy- my optimism or frugalness for the bus backfiring/succeeding? I found a taxi which did eventually rip me off - but I yelled at him for it because I knew he was taking me around. I wasn't exactly sure of my location but I knew I wasn't far from home as I shook the map at him. What an ass! I consoled myself by saying it was less than $3. Really. But still. I succeeded by trying, as my fortune cookie mind tells me. It still makes it all rather tiresome.

So down an alley I went with my pack and saw the California flag and a bench labeled with California on it. And peace washed over me. A  man asked if i needed help to which I grumbled no because wouldn't he just try to rob me or annoy me? I don't know. I did after a few minutes try to get in and some sleepy attendant/maid? I don't know- I said I had a room but was really early and I was going to just sleep in the chair and not bother her but then someone else appeared and she said I should go up to my room, and to check in later, and pointed where I could make breakfast and drink coffee on the way up. I collapsed on the bed with door and windows left flung open and woke sometime later with the light streaming in and a chorus of birds- as if I was in some place not the city.    
I'm in a courtyard surrounded by caged birds at the California guesthouse, in a quiet alleyway. The staff who look like they're all in their pajamas, spend most of their days gambling on the floor of a kitchen off reception- it is Tet afterall. It wasn't until the day after that I finally checked in and that's after I mentioned that uh, shouldn't I? So I am left largely to myself. I even sent my laundry out by dumping it into a basket and off it went. I keep forgetting I'm checking out of this place tomorrow. But thankfully I've scouted the location of the next place for Cath and me which in comparison is super high energy and CITY to the idyllic lazy quiet respite I've had despite the smokers room smell.

That day I was out and about, wandering around and eating and drinking way too much of everything. I really don't know if I succeeded in doing anything else- God, was that just yesterday? I feel I've already been here an eternity. I bought 2 t-shirts. The pants I wanted almost fit if I wanted sausage casing pants. And a cockroach that had been on my backpack crawled on me and luckily I felt something and shuffled it off instinctively before I realized. Cath says that it was encounter with local wildlife. Shudder. Nevermind let's not talk about it.   

Today was more of the same. I talked myself out of yoga and I still went over budget foodwise. LP and I have totally different categorizations of $,$$,$$$. Really the places they consider $ are $$ places. And the one place I've been to that's genuinely been on the cheap charged me .50c for rice. And that was just annoying. Everyone's trying to make a buck here and they cut at you here in there by degrees. But what do you do - I suppose I could start arguing over a literal cent, like that Czech couple did in dong hoi, and yet?

So anyway this place doesn't have the atmosphere of Hanoi by any degree. It's definitely a place in which finding your neighborhood is important because it's going to heavily define what you think of the place. Cath was wise to have us stay in 3 places- which initially I thought tiresome- but now I think genius. What I had set out to say at the beginning before I began my ramble was my latest obsession with tableaus- Entering into scenes you think are beautiful and perfect and then making a conscious decision on whether or not to be a part of the stage or just to gaze at it. Today for instance as I sat eating really delicious grilled fish with salt and chili sauce and a blackcurrent iced tea (all for $9.76. Expensive. I know you think I'm crazy. And yet it is comparatively. I almost balked at that price in Hanoi and I got double the food.) All that to say the walls were brick with lovely wood d├ęcor in an old colonial building, and the light was streaming in over the white table cloths. And I felt I wanted to look at it more than be a part of it- I set up my room in jeju in much the same way. Are places designed for you to look at them or enjoy being in them? Or as Heidi and Nina wonder- did they consider the garment from every angle?

Otherwise the only thing left to mention is that I've taken a disliking for straws. Mainly I think because it made my iced coffees disappear too fast- and I find here to be throwing them on the table with a pretty marked attitude of someone who will disavow them for life- especially in the lands of nofreerefills. I hope its not a permanent shift. Oh, and twice I've shaken hands with guys who've wanted something. One was friendly enough, and I walked away he had that look like he was surprised it hadn't worked. Or that I'd actually said no. I didn't want his postcards even if he had lost a leg, both legs? I don't know. And I felt my hand in his hand for a while after. Has that happened to you before? Where a handshake or something stays with you? The 2nd time was here. He wouldn't let go of my hand- this guy wanting to offer me a $1 ride on his motorbike. One of these days I'll say yes, but he had a hard bullying grip. I still said no. And he released it, before I started punching him in the face, which granted it would've take a while, as Im more likely to drag him off with me but still- His energy or impression in my hand lasted for blocks. It was so weird. I had to pray it off me.

So that's it. Its night. I'm over budget again. I haven't bought tickets to anywhere and tomorrow I can only imagine what i'll talk myself into or out of as the case might be. A massage? Maybe. Rock climbing- I could wait until cathy gets here. A show? $25... Get a garment made? ride the bus? Find that savory crepe place? At least the simplest things are an adventure here. I bought a pen. Hurrah! It was only 8.000. I ordered good coffee 2x. I didn't get ripped off. I got ripped off. I ordered X. It was good. I ordered Y. It was ok. I went here I went there. I walked and I walked. I managed to...

so goodnight from Saigon @ the trung nguyen coffee house by the fish tank having drank coffee #1 thought. this morning I drank #2 discovery, which was if not thee best pretty close, and having last night eaten pho until my lips were burning, for you pen, for you. Oh and futurewise- I think I lost 2 hours going to Vietnam- so I'm probably closer than I was before- like 11hours maybe ahead? Uh...

later days,
m.  

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