swining and dining

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The long and swining road...

I'm currently recovering from the past 2 weeks...thanks to my buddies Frank and Joe my liver and skin will never be the same (the latter due to spa and soap treatments)

I'm about 10 days behind on the blogs so please bear with me, I'm currently in the Philippines with family recouperating....this ' down time will also allow me to "swine" up with all of you.

As i left you we just got to Vietnam...we were all excited especially about the food. Shorty after Frank and Joe arrived bagan our day tour of Ho Chi Min aka Saigon. We opted to cruise is style...pedicab style...obviously, me being the heavy set guy my pedicab driver looked intimidated but he was up for the challenge...but food was first on the list. Our drivers took us to a local hangout and we ordered from the non-english version of the menu by basically closing our eyes and pointing our fingers on menu items (don't try this at home) we ate an array of interesting food ncluding froglegs and grilled eel...thank God for the the bottomless flow beer. Uninspired, but well fed we started on our tour...One word for traffic in Saigon....CHAOS...I mean if we had rifles there would have been road rage blood shed. No traffic lights, roundabouts only, millions and millions of scooters and taxis, smog, oh and just 3 pedicabs crusing this joint...I guess we were the only "tourons" that day. Aside from the mayehm, pedicabin was the funnuest and best way to travel, I mean we even had vendors on scooters selling us stuff while we were in traffic...the orange and rose street vendors of LA have nothing on these cats. Laugh after laugh we made our way thru this French influenced city...we stopped at the War Museum...pretty gruesome...a reminder of the past and present...really puts things into perspective.

Moments into our journey I was bestowed a nickname "Mapua" you guessed it "big guy"...the name stuck and Frank and Joe had a field day. We stopped for Bahn Mi, if you haven't had one of these sandwiches you're missing out, basicaly its french bread with pate spread, grilled pork, pickled vegetables and "pay for it on the toilet the next day" fire hot chilis. Damn it was worth it. We continued our melee to Notre Dame, the Embassies and more food stops...my driver needed to rest.

The tour ended at the largest open air Market in Saigon where we caught up with the locals and cooled our mouths with fresh sugar cane juice. We then retreated to our hotel for massages (spoiled....I'm on holiday) and happy hour. Dinner was on tap later that night. We ended up at a late night place where this time we had the English menu....seafood was on tap this night. We ordered fresh prawns cooked in butter....so good, Vietnamese chicken wings and langostines. after that satisfying meal we turned in for the night to get ready for a day at the Cu Chi tunnels. As we got back to the hotel, 2 young girls (come on keep it clean) were selling chewing gum...I folded and bought 2 packs....as we talked to them we noticed how ell they spoke English and commented that they should keep it up...the more we talked to them we were taken by these girls 7 and 11, Daryl and Jessica (thier given American names) These tw were street smart and savvy, the have been selling gum since they both were 3 years old, Jessica, the older, was very bright and intuitive we gave them Hong Kong money and encouraged them to keep with thier studies and to keep in touch...the sorted became our guardian angels.

The Cu chi tunnels is a labyrinth of tunnels totaling 250 KM and submerge upt to 10 meters below the ground. these tunnels were used during the Vietnam War in which the Vietcong lived and fought during the War. On the way there we were told we could shoot AK47 or M16 machine guns...so fast did our purpose for visiting this historic place change. After a quick movie and tour, we heard the the guns firing in the distance...we got there and baby did we load up....75 rounds between three of us and probably permanent hearing loss. this experience gave me newfound respect for the physical stature of the soldiers. Then on to the tunnels...we were given an ption to go 30-60-90 meters thru the tunnels, each segent had "p" doors to get out...we all lasted 30 meters...pride on our sleeves, Frank had the unhonorable duty of having my ass in his face for 30 meters as he folowed me thru the tunnels...he says he couldn't take that sight...yeah right I think it was his clastrophobic "ass" that couldn't take it...for me it was about 120 degrees down there.

We got back to Saigon later that day, Lunch was on my mind...Frank and I probably had the best Vietnamese food of the trip. We ordered the usual 8 items between the 2 of us. From Chicken, to pork, to spring rolls and fish each dish was flavorful and satisfying. Later that night it was about the Bars and Bars. Saigon Saigon and Apocalypse Now. There were alot of Westerners visiting Saigon, these were definitely tourist places...and when there are tourist there are the "working girls".

A common theme during my days with Frank and Joe was Jack Daniels and lots of beer, this night was no different. We gratefully ran into to our guardian angels Jessica and Daryl, we bought more gum and wished them well...Frank, joe and I agreed these were special girls and we hope their lives are prosperous.

We played catch up because the bars close @ 1am. About 2 sheets to the wind we ended up at Apocalypse Now...there we mingled witht he locals and made friends (just friends)...I have to say it was fun playing the part of an American...we met people from Japan, Germany, England and Australia....lots of beer and laughs...we ended up eating noodles @ 2am.....back to the hotel, another early flight, this time to Siem Reap, Cambodia... Angor Wat here we come.

Though our stay in Saigon was short we al wished we had 2 more days, basicaly wished we had 2 more days everywhere we went. Its been 4 weeks since I left LA, not homesick, but nostalgic....the "swine" has been well represented in the countrie we've visited so far...and still my instincts hold true...its the journey...i have grown in many ways, I have learned to see things from other vantages...more importantly....I can smell the roses

Coming up, my Angor Wat cooking debut and the birth of the "cobra" our mascot.

Swine, Women and Song.....

5 Comments:

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