I used to buy “pasalubong” for friends during travels but after buying around 40 packs of assorted green tea flavored KitKats one time, post cards seemed to be the economical alternative. For our final day, I bought around 20 post cards for recent travel fellows and academic advisers, taking me around 2 hours writing messages and addresses. Tiring work indeed, and I might altogether stop sending people such in future travels.
Hoping to send these cards back home, the post office (a nice place to see in Ho Chi Minh), and most shops are closed. It’s new year’s day, and people are with their families celebrating the occasion. No choice but to bring these postcards back home for the Philippine post.
Strolling around the city at this time of year is a good experience, as there are relatively fewer people around. Passing by a public park, we had a chance to see a multitude of items on exhibit–wood carvings, bonsai plants, flowers, landscaped gardens, precious stones and china wear, and still more flowering plants–dazzling the senses with an atmosphere of joviality. A lot of things to see, you’d get hungry or thirsty and still would not have been able to visit all the items on display. Good thing a free taste booth for a brand of fruit juice was set-up.
About 15 minutes after my free taste, my stomach kept growling and howling I had no choice but to look for a Wash and Clean room. Since almost all of the restaurants are closed, I had no choice but to storm through a chair-barricaded Jollibee (the only Jollibee there) and apologize to the staff currently wiping things outside. Another staff was inside cleaning the counters, I had to say “sorry, emergency, wash and clean.” He realized the gravity (brought upon by the impending mass ready for exit) of the situation and led me upstairs. As if to further prolong the agony, he had a hard time looking for the right switch in the circuit box, lights were turned on and off, until finally, the right room was lit. Not more than 5 seconds passed, I was almost seated on the throne, and you know what happened next.
I took my time to ensure a complete purge since we still had a lot more to see! So we strolled some more afterwards and went back to our hotel to pack our bags and wait for our Vietnamese friend to show us typical new year celebrations.
Their place is about 20 minutes away from the city center through motor bike. I had to say this part was one of my favorite moments of the trip (aside from the Jolibee experience *grin*). They lived near the Mekong, in a nice house along a narrow street good for two-way motorcycle traffic. He introduced us to family members, ate local cuisine, drank local liquor (very good! and strong!), and toured us around the community. I felt at peace and connected with area, it’s as if I’m somewhere very familial and close. Yes, it had a homey air. (what’s up yow!)
While it would have been good to stay for a night there, our plane is waiting at the airport, and papers to write and other requirements to do missed us dearly. But I won’t say bye, just Hoooo Chi Minh again soon. 😉
(Pasalubong refers to the practice of bringing home souvenirs from a trip or while coming home from work, for placating an angry wife/husband/girl friend/boy friend).