friends, 8 hours on the bus back to saigon was a bit grueling. this bus was older and not as comfortable, and had a very LOUD horn, which the driver had to use a couple of thousand times. similar to india, they honk when over taking someone, approaching a blind curve, or to get someone to move over. you hardly ever hear a horn in thailand. in india however, they honk their horns at any and all other times, just to make sure it is in good working order. we stopped at a bus rest for lunch. i picked up a few large dead beetles for my friend don in the states. a young Vietnamese man came over to our table to talk to us. he was very nice. wanted to practice his english. the people in vietnam are all quite friendly to us. if you want to set yourself apart from the average tourist, and evoke smiles, thumbs ups, and compliments of "oh modern", "very nice", and "beautiful"; dye your hair purple. i'm the only person i've seen here with such hair color. goes over good in thailand also.
when i was trolling the chat rooms for friends 4 years ago (which is how i met Tok initially) i also made friends with a vietnamese man named Luan. I phoned to him last night, and after a couple of hours he and his friend arrived on motorbikes. it was really good to see him and visit. he has been working in japan for the last three years, so he said his japanese was much better than his english now. he's doing well for himself. when i knew him before he was living in the attic of a house, going to school, and living on a quick noodles. now, after working in japan, he has a motorbike, an iPhone (!!!!!) and is ready to take the entrance exam to enter university. he's really funny when he gets all shy about not knowing the english words for what he wants to say. big smiles and laughs.
one of my other friends here is a young girl named BeHai. she is a street vendor how just charms money out of you. she's one of those who always has some soft-sell way to extract a few dollars from you. i used to buy cigarettes from her, but now she is selling books. i learned from an expat last time, that she takes care of her grandmother and a few random kids with what she earns. one of her spiels is to say "i want to ask you a question" and i always tease her and say, "Behai, i can't marry you, you are too young!" - and now i can add "i'm already married". she laughs and says that's not what she wanted to ask me. what she does want to ask is if i will buy a book or some smokes later, or can she have some money for new jeans, or it was her birthday a few days ago, can she have something for her birthday. i always just give her a few dollars for her. if you buy a book, the boss gets most of the cash. we friended another bookseller this time also. her name is How. i did buy a couple of books the first night, but since then i just give her a couple of dollars when i see her and tell he it's for her.
the kids who sell gum and kleenex are are funny. 8 or 9 years old, and out working the streets with their mom. they are easily distracted with the "watch me pull off my thumb" trick or other diversions, before they remember they are supposed to be selling you and go back to "buy gum???"
there is just so much of interest and mystery here, as there is in all of this part of the world. but, we have a plane to catch back home. i'll be able to post pictures and video from there.
Onward! Nu and Tok.
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