Ok so the soft serve 'chocolate" icecream sold in the park by a very sleepy looking vietnamese man was aweful. We threw it in the bin. Little messyfish cried his eyes out. He just couldnt believe that the picture on the side of the icecream vending machine did not match the icecream that was in his hand. He was about to begin his journey into discovering that the graphic design, much more prolific in the cities than he has ever experienced in his country home town was a cruel illusion of reality. The yoghurt containers that are sold in Australia are covered with lush pictures of fresh ripe berries. He buys them only to discover a greyish purple yogurty puree inside. Not a plump berry anywhere.
As we walked back across the road (yes it was still scary), we came across a western style bakery called ABC barkery. Can you believe it? Little messyfish ran inside in complete excitment. There was space to run and the women who were serving the self serve bakery and helping with tongs and trays were really open to playing with him. He raced around and around in circles, found some pizza slices and some NZ chocolate icecream. He was in heaven . I was relieved. I had decided right then and there that this would be a daily sometimes twice daily trip. what was the absolute most bestest thing ever about this place? I didnt have to cross any roads to get there. I also discovered a few days later that they had an upstairs. That means completely contained motorbike free childproofed area in which I could sip a latte whilst little messyfish ran around in circles eating pizza and chocolate icecream.
We bought bread, crossaints and took them back to our guesthouse. I am still trying to find fruit. After that we had a big rest. Little messyfish watched cartoon network, and I had a massive meltdown. The streets of saigon are hard work with a small child first time on my own. I was flat out trying to work out how to do Saigon myself, let alone manage a boistrous highly sensitive active 3 year old boy.
I wrote and email to a yahoo group that that I am part of. Its a radical unschooling group and there is very direct advice based on fundamental concepts discussed there. It is not a parents support group. The moderators goal is to ensure that the parents of the children are given the correct advice based on the theories of radical unschooling.
The advice i got back was to get a child carrier (have that), go home(no way!), its not his responsibility to be safe its mine(oh yes! thats right), find somewhere for him to run (i was at a total loss as to how to do this....it seemed like there was nowhere in the whole of Vietnam...but i fugured that I would try going to a beach side town that had the reuptaion of being tourist freindly and very nice), Someone even mentioned that even jane Godall didnt take her children to the jungle (ok, this was a city full of children and a country full of children. I was not in the congo, the amazon or the desert here!). It felt like the advice was not helpful at all. I was not able to enter into conversation with these women via email, because vietnam had a ban on Yahoo groups. So my support network was severed.
I look back now, and realize that in Saigon there are lots of things I could have done differenlt. I didnt think I had any need to go to The reunification palace. I dont care much about war memoribilia. What I didnt realize, is that all the taxis know where it is (so no walking or road crossing necessary) and that there are large open spaces, tanks and cannons and all sorts of things for little messyfish to run and climb on. there was the rooftop bar of the Rex hotel. Again, i dont drink...why go there? again...a taxi ride (no walking), a large contained space where i dont have to be super vigilant. westerners for me and little messyfish to talk to. We could have easily had a nice big cool drink full of ice with an umbrella on top. Then there is a large water park outside of saigon. A taxi ride there, loads of fun for children. Plenty of western food for mr fussypants, and lots of space for him to roam, so mrs nurotic can relax for a bit. And the list goes on. the list I completely forgot about. The resources i didnt think about. The places I wish I had gone too, becuase in the gettig there and back, I could have experinced the food, people, city and culture. I did not need to pound the pavements with a 3 year old to experience all this. But i didnt know that yet. Instead....I booked a ticket on the train to Nha Trang. My hair was falling out. It was easy to see on the white tiled hotel guestroom floor. I was stressed.