I have pretty much perfected hanging out with couples. Most cool people found other cool people and married them. I did not. I cannot contribute a 4th member to round out the card table or allow for turn and talk time at the dinner table. Maybe this is a flaw, but I did get invited on a honeymoon this year, and Christyn was confident enough that I could refrain from embarrassing her too much that she allowed her boyfriend to attend our second week of vacation. Prior to his arrival in Saigon, I had only met him once, at dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia, so I was excited to get to know the guy who was making my cousin happy and giving her new nicknames.
Though Christyn and I arrived home on Sunday, Jason wasn’t getting in until Monday evening because of his delays. Luckily, he sailed through customs in no time, and we were there to greet him at the airport. I have decided Kate’s experience of waiting in long lines at SGN is abnormal and that I need to resume going to the airport on time. (Sorry Colleen!) Luckily we were on time because Christyn was excited to be reunited.
We hadn’t made many definite plans for Jason’s arrival because we weren’t sure how he would feel after his delay ordeal. Luckily, his night in a Japanese hotel left him refreshed and awake enough to experience a foot massage at Royal. Unfortunately, I didn’t lead us to the right one to sit in the camouflage chairs, but the experience at all locations is pretty similar…and, I think, amazing. Why are there so many locations, you ask? Well, one thing you should know is that copyright laws aren’t a thing here. If you open a business and it is successful, why shouldn’t I open a business next door with the same name, same font on the signage, same services and products, etc. This leads to confusion and lots of googling. People post clues online: the real apparently has 3 steps down and red streak of paint by the doorknob. This is something I find entertaining about Vietnam. So, tangent aside, I essentially took Jason to a beating within his first hours in my city. The streets were still relatively quiet because people were away for Tet, but after massages, we went for sushi. Yum. I would say that Jason stepped off the plane as an adventurer ready for anything.
After dinner, we went home to rest, but were up bright and early to head back to Eden for breakfast. Gotta love restaurants open during Tet, with yummy food. Then, we hopped in a cab downtown to visit the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Though, I have been here for months, I haven’t done much reading or exploring around the war – aside from my trip to the Cu Chi tunnels with Colleen. However, Christyn read a book called Perfect Spy while she was here and Jason is interested in history, so the two of them helped to fill in the gaps in my understanding. The Reunification Palace was beautiful and eerie.
After the Reunification Palace, we tried to go straight to the War Remnants Museum, formerly called the Exhibition House for U.S. and Puppet Crimes, but it was closed for lunch. So we went across the street for lunch of our own, and returned an hour or so later. The museum was understandably one-sided, but it was difficult to swallow such anti-American sentiment and see the devastating effects of such a recent war. While I certainly understand that the heavy-handed propaganda must be taken with a grain of salt, it reaffirmed my position as a pacifist and made me long for a sudden, world-wide peace. There is certainly too much that is cruel in our treatment of one another. Yet, despite all this propaganda and all the lasting, devastating effects of Agent Orange and destroyed families, I have been treated kindly throughout my time here. I guess this is where peace starts. Unfortunately, at this point, Jason’s jet lag caught up to him, so we left after a couple of exhibits to head home for nap time (or for me, time to edit Derek’s thesis).
We did manage to rally so that we could go to Anna, my favorite spa, for real massages (not the wonderful beatings at Royal). Then we went for dinner along the Crescent Lake to check out all the Tet decorations. It was a pretty early night since I had to return to work the next day (Wednesday), and Christyn and Jason were catching a flight to Phu Quoc so that they could explore another part of Vietnam and Jason could catch up on the relaxation that Christyn and I achieved daily in Bali.
While I can’t say much about the Phu Quoc part of their adventure, I did receive these two photos that proved they were having a good time.
On Friday after school, I had time for a workout and a shower before Christyn and Jason returned from Phu Quoc. They regaled me with hilarious stories about their cab ride back to my apartment as we headed back downtown for drinks at the top of the Bitexico tower. The views were just as stunning as I remembered even though we sat on the opposite side of the restaurant. Then, we headed to Broma, a much shorter but still delightful, rooftop cafe. We made it out until midnight which was by far the latest any of us had stayed up on vacation. They had the excuse of jet lag, but I just really like sleep.
Saturday was our last day together, and we woke up early and headed to D1 for brunch at Au Parc. Then we did some sightseeing in the area and shopped for a couple of souvenirs/gifts. Then, we returned to my place to read and watch a movie before eating a farewell dinner at Fouras, a new restaurant in my building. Then I loaded up my fabulous visitors in a cab and sent them home.
Having Christyn with me was such a treat, and I am so glad that Jason could join the party. Because it has taken me about a month to write about our trip, it is almost birthday time for real. Christyn, I will think of you on our day, but I am so glad we got to celebrate early!