07 Mar Christmas in Saigon, time to say goodbye to our cycling buddy
Saigon is big and loud and full of crazy traffic. Luckily our hotel room is located down a narrow quiet alley. It seems within the giant chaotic city are many little neighborhoods each with a maze of quiet narrow alleyways where the real life is happening in this city.
In the morning small tables and chairs pop up where cheap breakfast can be had. Most house doors and windows are wide open and it is easy to get a glimpse of everyday Vietnamese life in one of these alleys. Most people sit on mats on the floor to eat or squat to do their work. Women feed their children: some with spoons others prefer chop-sticks. People take naps, prepare for work, and do their chores. People wash clothes by hand and hang them from their balconies. Dinners are cooked either in the house, sometimes outside over a clay bucket, either way it smells delicious. Children play outside, laugh and wave hello. It is like a hidden city within the city and life takes place half in the house and half outside.
Our hotel owner, Tammy, lives part of the year in Vietnam the other time in Denver. She speaks English and her and her husband are a great help getting us in touch with the local bike shop to attain a bike box for Randy, organizing rides to the airport with the big bike box, she makes us hot water for coffee and even let’s us use her kitchen to cook when we wanted. She is full of energy and smiles and always asks about how we are and what we need.
All we really needed the first night was some food, which we found across the main road at a buzzing Vietnamese hot-dog stand, where we stayed nearby so we could go for second or even third helpings….yes, cycling makes hungry! While we stand around we get to have a nice conversation with the owner of the tiny shop next to the hot-dog stand.
While walking around the local district, we notice many more churches, nativity scenes, and Christmas decorations. We even see a couple of Santas rolling down the street on their scooters. The cafe across the main road has holiday specials for christmas and New Years. They also have the most delicious coffees and frappes, so it’s no wonder that we become regulars for breakfast there during our stay in Saigon. We cross the crazy, scooter filled road so often that weaving through the never ending stream of vehicles becomes second nature.
After Randy gets his bike cleaned and boxed up by the local bike-shop for a very reasonable fee we finally get to enjoy Christmas dinner. We pretty much spend the whole evening at the local Vietnamese place that serves lots of Greek food, good beer and wine from Dalat. The owner tells us, he lived and worked in Greece for a very long time and from what we can tell, he learned how to cook a mean lamb dinner while he was there. He even treated us to a delicious appetizer while we were waiting. What else could we ask for a Christmas away from home.
After a few days in Saigon it is eventually time to say our goodbyes to Randy. Although, it initially took some time to get used to having another cycling buddy and finding a new traveling groove, we had a great adventure together and made many fond memories. We’ll definitely miss him and will continue to feed our leftovers to any stray dogs we encounter in his name.