Recently in Vietnam intermezzo Category

After insisting, my cousin managed to drag me up the Sheraton, and into the lounge, which, after everything, we didn't need to pay for to get in. I can be that stubborn/stupid sometimes. Made for some beautiful pics, until my camera battery died.



No Day 2, because it would've involved me taking pictures of the bathroom, etc. So Day 3, I crawled out of the bed (a mattress in the living room), and walked around a rainy Saigon.

Stephane and me, unboard a cab.
The best taxi company is Mai Linh (they took me to the airport, and my aunt swears by them). They've got free newspapers unboard!
House where my mother grew up in. It was renovated and made into a municipal government office with something to do with transit.

Lotus, and a lot of it.

Ducks or geese (more like geese), in a cage. Yum?
Central Market. With a lot of foreigners (buying) and ethnic Chinese (selling).
Central Post Office, from the colonial era.
Statue and HSBC building in backdrop.

A guillotine, brought by the colonial leaders straight from France, and freely used to instill fear in the local population. Kept at the War Remnants museum, the very graphic and gruesome attraction among Western tourists who haven't already read enough about the Vietnam War.

Day 1 in Saigon is actually Day 5 in Vietnam. We came back from the Bao Loc province to the North in the late evening of Sunday, and these pics were the first (full) daylight ones I took of Saigon.

A cathedral that looks like the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Built during the colonial era, I believe.

Diamond Plaza, Saigon's classiest shopping mall. It's got all the brand names, and almost feels like one of our shopping malls in the West. They wouldn't let me take pics/vids inside. More security guards than sales clerks. T_T

My cousin Stephane! After living most of his life in Canada (was born in France), he decided to move to Vietnam to be reunited with his parents. I think the change did him a lot of good. He's learnt Vietnamese, and contributes to humanitarian causes (teaching English in a famous public high school in Saigon, the 15 May School).

The cheesecake of death. Baked by Stephane's friend working at Highland Coffee. Culturally different from my definition of "cheesecake", as it probably doesn't contain an ounce of cheese. And it's so sweet, it can kill an ant colony. My aunt says I probably got my food poisoning there (from semi-cooked ingredients, etc)...
Highland Coffee. One of the big local coffee chains in Vietnam. Starbucks is still inexistant there, but Highland's the closest thing they got (to me, it's a Starbucks painted red and crossed with Nike - too much space between the tables, methinks).

The 15 May School in central Saigon, where my cousin works. I wrote most of my postcards in this schoolyard.
It doesn't look so, but I took this pic *while* riding on my bike, among motorcycles. The experience likens navigating on a river (rapids) infested with crocodiles, if possible.

Not in Dalat, but early in the morning in Saigon, as we were leaving the city.

A delicious Bahn Mi, Vietnamese sandwich, colonial heritage from the French.

My uncle Hoa, and aunt Eliane.

Orchids in a Dalat garden.

Flower from the same garden.
View from the window of our "mini-hotel".

Fields near Dalat.
A lake with boats.

A 50,000 dong bill (worth about 4CAD or 25HKD). And it's got Ho Chi Minh's face on it (well, they all do).

A cabbage field...

Soup, at dinner.

Interior of a palace (built in the 20th century, mind you) that used to belong to the king of Vietnam, near Dalat.


All smiling, but I now weight more than my cousin (slightly more than 60kg)...
The Dalat city center by night.

Small streets in Dalat.

Dalat Palace, now a Sofitel. Most expensive hotel in Dalat (~85USD a night).

Countryside, on the road back to Saigon.
Place selling tea and coffee to rich tourists. The region (Bao Loc) produces the best coffee in Vietnam.

Waterfalls on our way back.

(classified, phew)

Ok, I've classified the pics per day. That was a hassle. Going to introduce the pics a bit later. Now as a preview:

(Beautiful flowers in Dalat)

(Evening Dalat)

(Downtown Dalat in the morning)

(Vietnamese countryside and some waterfalls)

(Saigon during the day - Day 1 / Day 3)

(Evening view of Saigon)

(Their appartment)

Vietnam: processing...

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I took over 1 gig of photos and videos during my week in Vietnam... Like bioinfo, it's the annotation that counts, so please bear with me...

(For those who can't wait)

Vietnam: Saigon

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I had a slight gastro. It came out from both orifices, but I've been taking good care of myself. I stayed in bed for the whole day yesterday, and the maid made me some congee, which was about the only thing I ingested (I tried salt/sugar/lemon water, but that just came out five minutes later - I figured that you may not be able to synthesize Pocari Sweat so easily). I am better today, so I dragged myself out, for the last day in Saigon. I saw my mother's house, which is now a sort of government post related to the ministry of Transport. I went to the market in District 1, and saw other various tourist places, including the super-gruesome War Remnants museum near the Presidential Palace. It was another cloudy, tentatively rainy day. I am starting to miss home, which might be found in HK, but I haven't decided that yet... Bought lots of goods. I am sick and tired, teh bleh.

Vietnam: Da Lat

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I am in Vietnam, and it's been one of the most pleasing parts of my trip. Joined family that I have over here, my aunt, uncle and cousin. Aunt and uncle lived in Canada for 20 years before moving back to Vietnam a couple of years ago. My cousin followed them last year. They like it here. My aunt Eliane says this country (whose communism kicked them out, decades ago) is booming. But unlike China, who have HK and Taiwan to fuel the boom, Vietnam's only got the Viet Kieu, like them (my uncle Hoa is half Chinese-Vietnamese).

We were in Da Lat for the weekend. I got here late on Thursday, and we rented a van to get from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City, and more and more locals call it by its pre-Revolution name) to Da Lat, a vacation spot in the mountains, a few hours to the north, and formerly a resting place for colonial leaders back then. My mother and family spent their vacation there. I'm looking forward to post pics when I get back to HK.

Da Lat is a cooler city, the weather might be like that of Montreal, in the midst of summertime (and hey, this is below the Tropic of Cancer). It's got lakes, forests and peaks; pretty hotels - even some which go up to 85USD a night, like the Sofitel Dalat Palace. My mother will be eager to see the so many pics I took.

I feel rested and of a much better mood. It must be from seeing the sun and everything. We played some French music, Henri Salvador, Francoise Hardy, Beau Dommage, Jean Leloup and the rest of my French music CD collection, on the van, on our way back to Saigon.

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