Monday, March 31, 2008
What I did feel, however, was a passionate need to have a garden and/or grow orchids (as you can probably tell from my pictures).
A gentle spring evening arrives
airily, unclouded by worldly dust.
Three times the bell echoes like a wave.
We see heaven upside down in sad puddles.
Love's vast sea cannot be emptied.
And springs of grace flow easily everywhere.
Where is nirvana?
Nirvana is here, nine times out of ten.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
- Ben Thanh Market: food! old-timey men's pajamas! junk!
- Ginger ice cream and coffee at Fanny's: the ginger ice cream tasted like, well, ginger and cream. Nothing weird, no non-ginger aftertaste.
- Art Museum: beautiful yellow and white building that was formerly something oppressive and probably french
- History of Ho Chi Minh City Museum: another beatiful old building, this one with tanks in the yard; more taxidermied animals (is this a staple of city museums of which I was somehow unaware? I'm pretty sure that the NYC building doesn't have taxidermied squirrels or rats--which is not to say that they shouldn't).
- Post Office: um, nice telephone booths? General waste of time, but whatever.
Really, the sights are only an excuse to traverse the city and give me something to do between meals. Also, Uncle Ho is everywhere.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
And the footbridges kind of fascinated me. Partly due to my fear of heights, but also because these footbridges are often connected to malls. Now I'm a born-and-bred mall girl, as much as I hate to admit it. My veins run with Orange Julius, my heart is a Mrs. Field's cookie. But these malls are not like that. It's designer store after designer store. Posh restaurant after posh restaurant. Incredibly intimating when you're lost and confused and sort of sweaty.
On my beautiful sunny day, I wandered back to Kowloon and had every intention of going to the Arts Museum, but instead sat on the steps outside the Arts Museum and got slightly sunburnt and read a book. I was approached for three different surveys being administered by students of varying English-language capacities. One group of particular chatty girls wanted to know where all my friends were. "I don't have any friends in Hong Kong." They were horrified. I tried to explain in a few different ways that I don't actually live in Hong Kong and I've never been there before, so not having friends there doesn't make me a total loser. They left, pitying me.
Then I went to the aviary, although I'm not sure why. I never see any BIRDS at an aviary, just hear them. And I think of Hitchcock. At the very end, however, I see this big, mean blue bird with a crazy tuft of feathers on its head looking at the little girl in front of me like she was lunch.
- Subway system (actually works, is clean and quiet, cheaper than NYC)
- Diversity (they at least give us a run for our money--there is no way to tell a "local" from a tourist in HK unless said person is holding a map and/or has a dumbfounded look on her/his face)
- Skinny fashionable girls (maybe it's to save room that everyone has decided that 95 lbs is the absolute limit)
- Designer everything, all the time.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
That said, y'all probably know that I dork out for any kind of history, even the arrowheads and "fish salting" procedures. You throw in taxedermied animals and paper puppets and I have found a new home away from home. The History Museum was also strong on creating "sets": a typical home in the 17th century, a pawnbrokers shop, a tea house. They also liked to add soundtracks to their exhibits, which can be heard several exhibits ahead. So while you're examining sandstone, you hear the roars of a tiger (from the Flora and Fauna exhibit) and from Flora and Fauna, you can hear the Dragon Dance, which actually sounds like two girls having a swordfight. It's sort of like when you're waiting in line for a roller coaster and you can hear the people screaming at each loop and bump. Ominous.
And then I got to Hong Kong--a city in which few streets bother to go North to South or East to West, but rather meander like streams whose intentions are not for humans to guess. Pretty much anytime I exit the hotel, I get lost. Last night, I went out for dinner and literally every time I had to make a decision on the direction, I went in directly the wrong direction. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing--I wandered on Argyle and Nathan roads, stumbled on the goldfish market, figured out the nearest MTR stops. It was nice, actually, to not know where I was going.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
- On my flight was a student choral group from mid-Pennsylvania with matching bags and t-shirts, both of which had the students' names embroidered on them. Folks, if you are ever approached to buy candy or get your car washed by kids who want to travel abroad and feel they need such items, please dissuade them. Apple-cheeked teenagers will be targeted enough by ne'er-do-wells, why offer their names as well?
- Luckily, the students did not start singing, but on the bus from the subway to the hotel in Hong Kong, a little girl sitting behind me started singing about Jesus. She was sweet, making up songs the way I used to. A sample (from her, not me): "And Jesus he is praaayyer and if you forget the name of the hotel, Heeee will tell you it if you belieeeeeve." Indeed. Her mother did not recognize her genius and just shushed her.
- Hong Kong airports offer disenfectant for use on the toilet seat. Why doesn't everyone do this?
So, haven't seen anything of the city yet. Going to do an early dinner and rest tonight so I can spend tomorrow exploring.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, Mar 21: long flight to Hong Kong
Saturday, Mar 22: arrive in Hong Kong in the afternoon
Tuesday, Mar 25: arrive in Saigon
Friday, Mar 28: arrive in Dalat
Monday, Mar 31: arrive in Hanoi
Sat, Apr 05: return to the States, via Hong Kong
Sun, Apr 06: arrive at JFK late at night
Not sure how much time I'll actually have to update this, but I'm going to make a valiant effort.