I live in DC, which is a great place to live and visit. I try to make the most of it. However, I also love to leave my home and see what the world has to offer. Come and join me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time to Work, and a Visit to the (Super)Market, Tuesday 25 March 2008

I woke around 3, but a melatonin put me back to sleep. Don't even tell me it's a placebo because it's a placebo that works! My dreams were vivid, but not noteworthy. So far no anti-malarial nightmares, which was a huge relief. I am very lucky not to have many nightmares, but my dreams are very vivid and realistic so when I do have nightmares they are *terrifying.*

For breakfast we had the choice of meat-ful pho or runny fried egg. And I do mean fried. I think they were deep fried. Puke. I ate as much of the white as I could choke down plus a baguette-ish roll. I am going to be hungry yet gain weight on this trip. I asked for fruit, but it is only for dessert in Vietnam. I was told that I could go to a store at lunch.

The conference center was nice; the meeting room looked like a chapel with elaborately carved wooden chairs and quite convincing silk flower arrangements everywhere. Ho Chi Minh presided. At tea break I ate a sickly sweet roll because I knew I had to (based on my food experiences so far), plus 1 1/2 mangoes. Yay fruit!

At lunch the Westerners were served grayish-green hot dogs and fried potatoes. Double puke. Eventually we got the same Vietnamese food everyone else was having, including some stir fried marigold greens. I ate greens. I felt bad seeming like such a sourpuss for just eating greens, but I just can't eat meat. It will make me sick at this point, as it's been 15 years.

After lunch the translator guy took me to buy fruit. I assumed we'd go to one of the many stands selling the most beautiful looking fresh fruit but no, we cabbed to a supermarket at the edge of town. It's funny, I think this is always our instincts with tourists, to provide them with what we think is familiar to them rather than the local experience they crave. The produce did not look great and the stickers indicated it had been imported from Australia. I got oranges, tangerines, grapes, strawberries, and some sort of Laughing Cow-type soft cheese spread triangles and yogurt. There was no dragonfruit, which was the one thing I really wanted! I asked the translator if the dairy was pastuerized, but this was beyond his vocabulary and experience. He went off to find me a small folding knife and I paid. The cash register screen showed my change as 2000 some VND. The cashier gave me 500. I pointed to the screen and she swapped my 500 for 600. Hmph. We're talking a few cents here, but it irked me.

We got back barely in time for the afternoon session. I felt bad because Vietnamese generally have a long lunch with a siesta and he got no rest because of ferrying me around.

My first presentation was in the afternoon, the dryest one I was to give *and* the last presentation of a long day. But amazingly people were engaged and asked a ton of questions. I had whipped out a few of my Vietnamese phrases earlier in the day and I think people really liked me for it. I'm sure I was their favorite. `-)

After the day was over we went to the market. It was the same as any market in a poorer country--not rich handicrafts drawn from millenia of tradition, but cheap plastic crap from China, just acres of it. I spotted a fruit stand, where I got some dragonfruit. Yay!

We also spotted some beautiful, huge, waxy red flowers at the flower stand. The flowers were about 10 inches in diameter and the petals radiated from a central cone. The stems were about 3 1/2 feet tall. We got three of them at a dollar each and J and I shared custody.

As we were leaving a spotted a fabric stall. Yum. I couldn't resist. I got two meters of orange polka dot cotton batiste swiss dot. It is so cute! It was $2/meter.

Then we were off to a waterfront restaurant for a sunset dinner (that's the view from the table). I was ordered stir fried marigolds, tofu, and stir fried vegetables. It was a lot of food. It was as good as it could have been--though some chili heat would not have been amiss--but I just didn't like it. It was greasy, and if I'm having greasy food the grease better be coming from cheese. Otherwise I just wanted steamed or roasted vegetables. I ate it and smiled, of course! I wouldn't dream of appearing ungrateful for effort put out on my behalf.

There were tons of tiny geckos along the outside of the frosted glass upper windows. Only on the outside and only on the frosted glass. Funny.

You can see all the photos of the Mekong Delta, and all photos from this trip if you'd like.

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