Continuing to vent to no one else but myself, I am now on my 5th post in little over a week. That’s a pretty good pace, if you ask me. Time will tell if this experiment of mine is just a short-lived one, or something I will gladly continue to do.
So far, this is just kind of a new-found fun hobby of mine, something to pass time with, and, of course, a way to procrastinate.
Another word for procrastinate is, apparently, shilly-shally. Even though that word is absolutely ridiculous, it’s a good example of my superior judgement to have this blog in English instead of my native language. The English language simply has a larger vocabulary, which makes it easier to write and use versatile and ridiculous adjectives.
Needless to say, I discovered shilly-shally while procrastinating to continue to write this post.
Yesterday evening, I headed out of my hotel in Saigon to have some dinner. I’m here on a business trip for a few days, and I’m travelling alone. I really don’t mind travelling alone, because it forces you to be more open to your surroundings and confront it all by yourself. You really grow as a person, if only travelling for a short time.
This is my 3rd trip here in as many months, and the first two times I stayed at the same hotel. I chose that one based on a combination of:
I had a nice stay there. The staff was polite, they spoke English well enough, their breakfast was at least edible, and they, much to my delight, had an iron for me to use to iron my shirts. Also, the immediate vicinity had it all – a convenience store, some restaurants with good reviews, and not too many salespeople, shoe-shiners, or motorbike-taxi drivers who don’t want to do anything else in their lives, other than to sell you a ride, even though you frustratedly explain that you’re just going four meters to that store right there. They’re an insisting and pride-lacking crowd.
So, naturally, coming closer to my 3rd trip to Saigon, I felt comfortable enough to pick the same hotel once again, due to all the above-mentioned delights of staying there. Unpleasantly, I discovered that their rooms were all booked, and I now had to investigate other options. This time, I decided to stay here. It also had some good reviews, a lot in fact, so the choice was easy. It fulfilled the same criteria that my previous hotel did, so I was smiling like an idiot when I had booked it.
What I had failed to realise, was that this particular hotel may be exactly as good as I thought it was gonna be, but the location…
The location is, although central, in the middle of a backpacker area of Saigon. Some key features of a backpacker area:
–a whole lot of backpackers everywhere
–cheap beer (only 8000 dong; not even half a US Dollar)
–a buzz-killingly amount of salespeople who want nothing else than to sell you their fake sunglasses, cigarettes, condoms, shoe-shine, services, and, many times, drugs of various kinds
A typical conversation with these people usually goes like this (S=Sales Guy; V=Victim):
S: Hey mister, you buy my things!
V: No, thank you *smiling politely and awkwardly*
S: You buy!
V: No! But thank you *looking away, ignoring them*
S: YOU BUY!
S: YOU BUY!
S: YOU BUY!
You get the idea.
Anyway, there I was, rushing out to get some delicious dinner in a restaurant I had chosen on TripAdvisor. Apparently, I haven’t learnt my lesson since my last visit to Saigon, and I didn’t check if the restaurant still existed. Excitedly, I was pacing around the busy area, looking for my destination, only to find out that it didn’t exist. A least not where the map said it should. Disappointed, I walked around the neighbourhood on a quest to find an equivalently good place to enjoy my dinner.
I didn’t find any that was as promising as my chosen one.
I settled for a corner, hole-in-the-wall type of place, and had some pork, vegetables and rice for like $2-3. It was okay.
The only thing that wasn’t fucking okay, was that I sat outside, on a corner, looking like a dumb foreigner, exposed to all the pushy salespeople. I think I rejected at least 10 of them in as many minutes. They didn’t show any regard, respect, or other r-words I don’t even know, for the fact that I was trying to enjoy my food.
This experience was very stressful, and that says something when I usually live in Bangkok, and have experience from China.
This is how these salespeople look as soon as they spot me. Creepy.
Circling back to my choice of hotel – major reduction in points here for not having an iron for their guests. Clearly, this isn’t a business-trip kind of hotel. Proving my superior ability to plan ahead, I didn’t discover this until 90 minutes before my morning meeting today, when I asked for the damned iron. After a brief moment of sheer panic, I brilliantly grabbed my two shirts by the collar, and rushed to the shower and soaked them. Now, I only had to dry one of them with the hairdryer and it would at least appear less wrinkly than before. Yes.
Evidently, I didn’t dry the shirt enough, and I underestimated the power of wet, while also overestimating my cleverness. I will definitely
never do this again.
I had to wear this almost-but-not–really-dry shirt to my meeting, which actually was kind of nice in retrospect, considering the immense heat and humidity going on here.
I surprisingly discovered that the person I was meeting with came from the same region in my homeland as I do, and we agreed to meet up in the summer when we both have vacation and have some legendary kebabs.
Needless to say, the meeting went great.
Now, as if last night’s experience wasn’t scarring enough, I have to head out to this dreadful street, fight off some salespeople, and have me some delicious pho.
* * *
Quick post-dinner update:
Apparently, I never got to have any delicious pho. The place I happened to find myself in didn’t have it, but that’s okay. Instead, I decided to have a beef-rice-vegetables dish, which is a super safe choice. They’re always good, and safe. Did I say I wanted something safe? Did I say I wanted pho, or beef-rice-vegetables? For some reason, when I was pointing at my long-wanted dinner of choice, the little lady taking notes of my order didn’t agree with me. Well, she said “yes”, nodded, and went into the kitchen and came back a couple of moments later with an eel-peanuts-onion dish. There were also some discoloured tomatoes, and some dry lettuce.
My stomach hurts.