Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No internet? Look out the window.

This is post is brought to you by the wifi at Noa Cafe in the Centec Tower.  Mr Martin, formerly known as RSB (Rock Star Boyfriend) very inconveniently forgot that he band practice tonight. So, as a Good Wife I had to lug two electric guitars to his office. Much to the amusement of the xe om drivers at the end of my street.  Lucky for me they have taken it on as their vocation in life to flag down taxis for me. And now I am having lunch by myself in the cafe, but I can't say I'm that upset about it because not only does Noa have truly great coffee, but it's a chance to squeeze out another one of those posts about the Mekong Delta trip.

Apart from the ubiquitous wily sparrows that seem to own every city in the world and a few mangy pigeons (nothing like the sleek musty birds that used to rub their scent off on my grandfather's hands) I almost never see a bird in Saigon.  Bats - yes.  By the hundred every evening at dusk, but birds not so much. At actually, at the Mekong Delta the birds were not so easy to spot, either. But we could definitely, always hear them.

New Zealand birds are famously stupid when it comes to hiding from potential predators, but getting out of sight and staying out of sight is something their distant Vietnamese relatives are definitely NOT bird-brained about by comparison. The Vietnamese have been too hungry too often to leave the feathered folk alone and the birdies know better than to hang about when someone's watching.  So obviously I didn't get any pictures, but I spent a lot of time gazing out the window saying things like "Big red bird! Big red bird!" and desperately trying to get glimpses of the big blue parrots I could hear cackling in a stand of trees on the next lot.

There was something else I didn't see in Mekong that is everywhere in Saigon - cars. After stepping off the bus on the main highway there was not a car to be seen - not even taxis. We had to get xe om to the tourist pier. It gave us a glimpse of what life in Vietnam was like before cars - and not that long ago, either.  Many of the roads were very narrow - wide enough for two bikes to pass one another but that's all. And they were often in surprising good condition - smooth surfaces that had obviously been swept free of stones and other things that could pierce a thin bicycle tyre.  The local still ride bicycles a lot, and motorbikes, of course. And the ferries (of which there are many) are all designed to carry bikes as well as people.

The sky looks a bit heavy and dark in that photo and it was a bit rainy that weekend.  We had a brilliant electrical storm on the second night, with loud cracks of thunder and fork lightning striking the island across the river. The lodge where we stayed at has a sort of eco-philosophy that translated to some vegetables and fruit growing in the garden on site, wooden chopsticks and no TV or internet (or fridge, which bothered me a bit because I wanted cold water all the time) in our room.  So our options were reading books, talking to each other or staring out the window.  Somehow, staring out the window was never boring for me - especially in the storm.
Our room at night.

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