Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Ides of March

March got off to a nice start, as it was my birthday on the 11th. I was joined by close friends at a Brazilian restaurant to celebrate the occasion. My friends chipped in and got me a chocolate birthday cake, which just happens to be my favorite. I made a quick wish before blowing out my candles. Thank goodness they only had a few candles and not the traditional one for each year; otherwise we could have started a forest fire.

The Easter Holiday in Singapore quickly approached and was upon us before we could make well thought out plans. My friend Kevin called me one week before our holiday and said he thought it would be fun to go to Vietnam and visit our friend Chau one last time before she headed off to Scotland to start her new life with her husband. Chau has been such a good friend of Kevin and me and has been instrumental to the both of us in learning and discovering her home country. She was married back in October of 2007 and will soon be heading overseas to the UK to begin a new chapter in her life. But before she did, Kevin and I headed to Saigon for a fun-filled holiday weekend.

One of the best things about visiting Vietnam is the chance to indulge in the delicious food and this trip was no exception. Kevin was excited to go back to a restaurant that Chau had introduced us to previously. Surrounding the perimeter of the restaurant grounds stands little cooking stations that prepare delights from each unique region of Vietnam. Customers can place their orders with the waiters at their tables and then the waiters take a regional tour around to these different stations to place your order and later to fetch your food. It's a great experience and one that is not to be missed.

Chau suggested that we take a tour down the Mekong Delta, one of Asia's greatest river systems, and also the location of Chau's home town and where she spent the first 18 years of her life growing up before her family moved to Saigon. I was surprised to see such infrastructure development taking place there. The bridge (above), although not yet complete, will be a massive structure that should aid in making transportation more efficient and easier in the region.

At one point, we switched from our larger boat and shifted across to much smaller canoes, which were ideal for navigating the small tributaries of the Mekong. As we slinked along quietly between large ferns, palms, and reeds of bamboo; all you could hear was the paddle of our driver sloshing back and forth and propelling us down the stream. After a long day on the Mekong, we worked up quite and appetite and there is no better place to satisfy your hunger than in Vietnam.

I always feel like a bull in a china shop when I am in Vietnam. Most things are so small in comparison to my height and build. Eating at road-side restaurant can feel somewhat like playing with doll house furniture as one pulls up a small stool along side an even smaller table. But for what one suffers in back pain leaning over the much smaller confines, you make up for in sheer happiness for your taste buds. I got up close and personal with a bowl of spicy noodles. I've yet to have a bad meal in Vietnam. The flavors are pretty diverse and most items seem pretty light and dare I say... healthy. Kevin and I usually let Chau act as our guide on these culinary excursions. In fact, without Chau we would not have experienced so much of this great country.

Whether we are goofing around in the back seat of a cab (see photo) making a human Banh My (Vietnamese for Sandwich), or cracking jokes at a local coffee shop, or teasing each other; the three of us have had some great times. Chau is about to turn the page on her own new chapter and will be leaving her homeland to join her husband in Edinburgh, Scotland. We wish her all the best and look forward to using all the means at our disposal to keep in touch to help minimize the distance and remain good friends.


At 4:53 AM, Blogger for my love said...

Hi David,

THanks for "The Ides of March". It makes me miss Vietnam so bad. Hope to see you and Kevin soon...Miss you guys...Little Monkey

At 10:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Save your stomach for more noodle when I am there :)


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