Sunday Feb,28, 2010 – Seven Days +1 At Sea!

Can you believe it. We have been on this trip for a week already. And what a week! Last two days in Sai Gon. As Beth mentioned in her last blog entry we were going to go into Sai Gon by night. We did – what a wild and modern city. 4 million motor scooters and they we all out in city center Friday night. We had drinks at the REX hotel overlooking Sai Gon. This is where all the US reporters hung out and reported on the American War, as it is called here. Also many military staff came here for drinks. Our guide was full of propaganda about the war plus some good information. Unfortunately the city has grown up around the REX hotel. During the war, the war correspondents could sit in the open bar on the 5 floor of the hotel and see bombs being dropped in the distance. Today all you see is high rise buildings and new construction. The view although reduced is still very interesting as you can look down on the city center and marvel at the traffic! Traffic signals here are suggestion only! You take you life in your hands when you cross the street. However the trick is to just launch your self into the flow of humanity and motorbikes and come out on across the street. Do not stop on your way across or you’re toast! Just keep going at a steady pace and you’ll be fine! Yesterday morning we were going to go in to the central market, but thought the better of it. Very hot, about 98degrees and 200% relative humidity. We were thinking the market would be unbearable and we heard it was! So we watched river traffic. What a show! We’ll get to some local markets in our next port tomorrow, where we will go bicycle riding through the countryside! Looking forward to that. Dinner in Sai Gon was not much to write about so I won’t. So far really an amazing trip. Were hoping the Tsunami has no impact here. So far Japan has put out a warning. Hawaii has escaped any problems so we are hoping it is a non-issue for us also. We have met some folks from NJ who have family in Chile and so far everyone is OK. Our thought and prayers are with the many wonderful people we met in Chile over the two trips we have made to that great country!
The cruise itself and weather have been great. Flat calm sea’s (much to my chagrin). In the 90‘s every day and humid. Sorry to hear that it is cold and stormy in the North East! Remember Spring is right around the corner.
Beth’s Thoughts….
While Kevin said dinner was not much to write about, I wanted to share a few impressions of my own.
Drinks at the top of the Rex was enjoyable for the view and the breeze which helped keep things comfortable. While we were there, a singer came up onto the stage to introduce himself. Born in Greece, raised in Germany, a citizen of Canada, now living and singing in Vietnam. There’s nothing like listening to a lounge lizard singing the Carpenter’s “Close to You” badly, with his own off-key interpretation of the song, on a roof top in Saigon, while drinking 333 beer (tastes like Bud) to tell you that you are in a foreign land. Fortunately for us, it was time to leave!
Dinner was at “Maxim’s”; a large restaurant with live music and a floor show. There were “real” people also eating there, so it did not seem to be only a tourist place. We had a fixed menu for dinner. None of the food was truly different from what we have had before. Sitting next to us was a couple from France; he was a chef (a banker in a former life) and he told us that the food was similar to what they served in Vietnamese restaurants in France.
The floor show was a group of 4 women in costume. They did 3 different dances (with a change in costume for each). One dance with some kind of Giant Frisbees. A dance with a ceramic bottle and 4 small cups (like sake cups), and a dance with fans. In between and during dinner, a 3 piece string band played music from the 50’s and 60’s, for example, “Delilah”. It was a bit surreal. I won’t describe the dishes, except for “dessert” which was called “sweet taro soup”. Picture warm, lumpy poi (yes it was a purple-grey color) with some sweetened, condensed milk poured on top. Yummy sounding, isn’t it? The Frenchwoman actually ate the whole thing.
When we got back to the ship we had some small chocolate éclairs to get the taste our of our mouths. Our ship is our refuge…
I wanted to mention one other food adventure… Some of you may have heard of the Durian. It is a fruit from southeast asia, green, spikey, about the size of a small melon. We have seen on some shows that they do not allow people to bring the fruit into hotels due to the odor.
Well… one night after dinner I decided to have some ice cream for dessert. They had Durian Ice Cream so I decided to try a scoop. As I was walking back to our table I noticed an odor. It smelled like a cross between dirty socks and a backed-up septic system. Where was it coming from? I sat down and placed the bowl in front of me and the smell got stronger. Silly me, this didn’t stop me from taking my spoon and tasting the ice cream. I can’t describe it. Terrible. Disgusting. Repulsive. Foul.
Why anyone would take the time to make ice cream out of this stuff is beyond me. Must be an acquired taste, like Limburger cheese.

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