I should have done this years ago…

… but all things in their time.  We walked around the shopping district last night.  Nhan, Lan and a couple of Scouts from Nhan’s troop.  These kids were in their twenties and students in Saigon.  We visited a book store where I saw some of the 56 books that Nhan has authored on Scouting.  I will be going back to the shops today for some souvenir hunting.  This morning we had breakfast at “Ca Phe Y”; literally, “Cafe Italia”.  (That explained the “spaghetti” entries on the breakfast menu.)  It is a 7 story club/cafe featuring karaoke on 4 floors and different themes on each floor.  Brand new.  My breakfast consisted of eggs, tomato, crusty bread and thick sweet coffee.  I cost about 20,000 dong.  There are 19, 240 dong to the dollar, while I was there.  You do the math.  The owner came up to me and offered his hand and said, “Good morning, sir.”  Many Vietnamese will start a conversation just to practice their English.  They seem to genuinely enjoy Americans, in a good sense.  We’re just so darned cuddly, what with the fat belly and all.

Manly man on the beach

Lan on the beach...

We took a cab to a resort by the sea and Lan and I went swimming.  (Lan is a friend of Nhan’s.  She is a wonderful woman who makes sure I do not commit too many faux pas.  She treats me like a low grade moron, as do most of the women in my life, so I feel right at home.  She helps me eat and points out the food from the centerpiece.   (Not as obvious as one might think.)  She dickers with street vendors for me and has saved me quite a bit.  She is 31 years old, a widowed, single mom and very pretty. Though she speaks less English than I speak Vietnamese, we still laugh a lot.

Lan... what more can I say???

Too bad I have socks older than her.  Our relationship is strictly platonic… DAMN!!!)

A Vietnamese woman with a baby girl walked near us in the water and when I waved to the child, she reached out to me to be held.  That started a conversation.  Her mother’s English is probably better than mine and we talked about babies, the war and the folly of man.  She asked me if I had come to Viet Nam to celebrate “Reunification Day”, symbolized by posters showing an NVA tank crashing through the US Embassy gates.  I told her, “Not exactly” than, quite honestly, told her how I had spent 26 months fighting the VC and NVA.  We agreed that wars are made by those who do not have to fight them and that the combatants on either side probably had more in common with each other than they do with the politicos that started it… Taliban and Al Queda excluded.  I gave her my e-mail address and URL and I expect to stay in touch with her.  Her father and grandfather both fought for most of their lives and both died before they could really enjoy the peace.  Based on what she told me, I had a nasty feeling that her father was a VC who died in a 1969 battle. I shudder to think that my unit was in any way involved, but… xin loi.  We commiserated over the folly and the waste of wars and I left her, only reluctantly.

We had lunch at Nhan’s restaurant and it was great.  There was two kinds of clams, an octopus/veggie dish, fried rice with chicken and what I call a rice pizza, flat rice cake, fried crisp with a soft center covered with thin slices of tomato, a green veggie that resembles celantro, shredded chicken and tiny, hot peppers.  Beware the peppers.  One snuck up on me and literally, took my breath away.

I’m off to my siesta until Lan gets me up for a shopping spree.


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