Monday, January 30, 2012

Vietnam (3): Day two (30th jan 2012)

We woke up early for Vietnam but it was late for us. We were still adjusting to the 4 hour time difference. One of the great things about travelling to vietnam from Australia was that I could get a direct 9 hour flight, and that there was only a 4 hour time difference. Vietnam was 4 hours behind. I figured this would mean i could go to someplace far away and exotic, but it would have little impact on us in terms of jetlag and transit fatigue. Generally this was true. I think the most exhausting thing was the worry and the energy I wasted on anxiety. I had alot of fear to overcome. A huge amount of those fears were others fears that had become mine, they were not based on reality nor my personal experience.
The Typical breakfast for Vietnamese is Pho. It is often eaten out, on the streets sitting on tiny little red plastic stools. I was yet to find a great place to eat Pho, so instead we munched half a cheese sandwich that we had brought with us (and kept in the fridge in our hotel room), and then headed straight to to Ben Than market. This market is in every tourist gide as the biggest best market to see in Saigon. It was on my list as one of the places I most wanted to see. I just love markets. I esecially love asian markets. I just could not wait to get to what I was hoping was going to be the busiest most hectic colourful vibrant interesting market Ive ever been to in my life so far. The flower market in Kolkata was awesome. Would this match it?
I asked the host at our guest house if it was possible to take a taxi there, seeing as I had no shoes for little messyfish. She gave me the impression that it would be a complete waste of money and a silly option due to it being so close to our hotel. It was an easy walk she insisted. I then suggested I could get a "cyclo" there. Again she laughed and told me that the cycos can not go down certain streets and it would be the long and expensive way to get there, that walking was most definatly the best option. Huff. I believed her. I didnt understand that many Vietnamese hate to "waste" money and that getting a cyclo or taxi would have been a waste. What she didnt know about me was that our exchange rate and the fact that I was a 41  year old mother of a 'bolter" with no shoes, meant that I would have been willing to pay a whole $5 to get there by vehicle. In reality it would have cost $1. It was the worst decicion EVER to save $1. Damn I wish I caught a taxi then. In fact I wish I caught taxis ALOT more and did ALOT less walking (well actually....running and screaming after little messyfish).

Waaaay down there across that park is the market. I have no pictures of the market because it was so crowded and hectic, interesting and all the rest. There was no way I was able to watch a 3 year old AND take photoes, let alone even get a camera out! The thing I was NOT expecting however, was Little messyfish's completely negative reaction. It was TOO hot, crowded smelly noisy and busy for him. Everything I was craving to see was everything he hated. He asked me to get out of there. Held his nose and basically made it impossible for me to soak up the atmosphere and savour the sights.
I drew a picture of a shoe. A pink croc. The exact shoes he would be looking for. I showed it to people. They pointed and I went where they pointed. It didnt take long at all to find a shoe stall. Hundreds of plastic shoes. Unfortunately they were all copies. I didnt mind, but little messyfish could detect the differences. epecially the rougher surface, the slightly less bright colours. The only shoes they had in his size were blue. He refused to try them on. I refused to move untill he "agreed" to find a pair of shoes. I just couldnt carry him any more. I wanted, needed him to walk. My back was killing. He was 17kg, and tall.
He cried and threw shoes around, tried on the pink ones again that he really wanted but were not the right size. We were surrounded by shoppers, walking over and around us in the very narrow passageway. He tried the pink thongs on, but they were too rough. Nothing was good enough. I cried too. We sat on the floor of the market and didnt budge. People were walking over the top of us still. Finally a man appeared with a whole bunch of unpackaged shoes in all the sizes that we needed. Finally little messyfish found a pair that he liked, felt comfortable and were the right size. We paid a whole $3 for them, thanked the stall owners profusely and got the hell out of that market. We never made it back there. I never got to explore it thoroughly. I only ever got to frantically spy a few sections of it, whilst holding the hand of a little boy who always likes to be out in front and running. I thought I would be back in a few days. I dont know why that didnt happen? This has happened before when I have travelled. I missed out on the Guggenheim museum in New York city. I stood outside it and decided I was tired and would go visit it the next day. That never happened either. I regret that.

And on the way back look what you can do with a new pair of imitation blue crocs! play in that park! whoooo hoooo! what great fun that was. the play was only cut short by a need for little messyfish to go to the toilet. Now that is another whole sensory drama! We rushed back to the guesthouse room. He would never go in a public toilet. He blocks his own nose when he goes at home. Imagine the assult on his senses of smelling other peopes business! ewwwww. I completely understand and am usually pleased to accomodate his sensitivity in this area. We crossed the road, walked down the alleyway, took our shoes off, walked up 8 flights of stairs, struggles with the door lock and finnally got into our perfectly clean and very comfortable room. At $25 a night, with cable tv, wifi, ensuite, queen bed, window, ac, fan and night lights, sofa bed and fridge we were in heaven. Little messyfish was not coming out of that room again once he got inside. So we ate a packet of squishy dinosours (jellies) and watched some Tom and Jerry on tv. I got on skype to my husband and went to sleep hungry. I still had not worked out how how to carry little messyfish asleep through the streets, negotiate a price on food and eat. That was all waaaaay beyond me. My experience in India had left me doubting that I could point at food and then pay what was asked. I had no idea if 100,000 dong or 10,000 dong was what I should be paying. I knew for certain that I could not carry a sleeping child in the streets of saigon, order food from a busy street stall, get out the iphone and do a currency conversion, get out the wallet and pay, put back the iphone back in my pocket, then wait for change, then put my wallet back in my pocket in a safe from pickpockets manner, AND continue to carry my (hopefully) sleeping child, but by now probably screaming and aggressively struggling child WITH the food back to the hotel (remembering to take both of our shoes off and all those stairs too right....)
Lucky afterall i brought all that emergency food on the plane with me. I was living on crackers in the land of divine food....something had to change. Tomorrow I was on a food mission. Time to brave up, and take a risk. Whats the worst that could happen? I would pay $5 too much for something? whoppie do! I was hungry....

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