We touched down in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday night, around 11pm. Tara’s principal, Gary, was at the airport to meet us and our 14 duffel bags and 3 guitars. From the airport to our hotel in South Saigon, Siena Kaya counted 605 motorbikes. I call them “motorbikes” for two reasons: 1, there is an even mix of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters—some of the scooters have clutches (like motorcycles) and some of the motorcycles have auto transmissions (like scooters) and it’s impossible to distinguish them from their body styles; and 2, that’s what everyone else calls them.
The first night in town was rough. The kids had been fantastic for the 22 hours of travel; they slept off and on, rarely complained. Light years above the dreadful trip we had anticipated. Siena Kaya is a natural when it comes to this; she’s been through countless airports and customs lines, and has a healthy number of stamps in her passport for a 4 year-old. But even Dom was a trooper. He seemed to understand that there wasn’t much he could do about his circumstances, and went with the flow. We’ll see how he approaches the trip back next summer, at almost 2 years old.
But neither was quite ready to go to bed when all the clocks back home struck 1pm. The second night was similar, in how the kids were adjusting to the time difference, but a little more interesting… In an effort to get the kids to sleep so that Tara could face another long day of house-hunting, I strolled both kids up and down the streets of District 7 by moonlight for hours. Then, exhausted, I decided to take a shower.
Big mistake. Some of Tara’s colleagues had warned us of the slippery tile floors all over Vietnam. In fact, one of their own kids had already broken a tooth in their bathroom. Well, at 3am, after a few beers and a few sweltering walks with the kids, I was simply in no shape for a shower. Sure enough, as I climbed out and reached for the towel, lost my footing and next thing you know, everything went black. I came to almost immediately to find Tara helping me up, holding a towel to my eyebrow. Busted wide open, about 3 ½ inches across. Fortunately, Gary—kind man that he is—showed up within minutes and drove me to the ER, where two very serious medics on the graveyard shift sewed me up. 7 stitches in less than 30 minutes.
The third night was great. We all fell asleep at 7pm and slept through till 6 in the morning. I dare say that the jetlag has pretty much worn off and we’re close to a normal schedule. The heat still takes it out of the kids so it looks like naps might be a part of our lifestyle again, but this would be a welcome little change.
Tara has narrowed the house search down from 16 to two, so we all went out this afternoon to check out the final choices. Both apartments are beautiful. 3 floors each, with ample bedrooms and bathrooms and gorgeously decorated. SK and I chose apartment #1 over Tara’s preference of #2, and we’ll be putting a bid on it tomorrow morning. Hopefully it will work out and we can move out of our little hotel room and settle in. Pics to come soon.
So far so good. The climate is right up our alley (at least for Tara and I; the kids will just have to adjust.) The food is incredible. And those are really our only criteria when it comes to falling in love with a new country. I wouldn’t presume to make any judgments about the culture so early in this new adventure, but we have no complaints to speak of. The language is a challenge; very few people we’ve encountered seem to be even conversational in English, but that’s our problem, isn’t it? Personally, the lack of any real presence of Al Qaeda—or affiliate thereof—is a big plus for me. I’m sure the fam will come to appreciate this over time, as well.
More to come as we gradually settle in to South Saigon!