DAY 3 OF BROTHER VISIT

After the Cham Charm indulgence of last evening we wondered how we’d fare during the night. But seems we did alright!

8am find us ready to eat again!  Breakfast at Sasa Café in the well known Pham Ngu Lao tourist area of Saigon.  Tour buses smoke lazily choking the morning air.  We are travelers today.  We will appreciate the air-conditoned comfort once we board our bus.

So we bear the fumes and eat a pretty ok breakfast washed down with the famous drip style French coffee.  It’s thick like oil.  You can drink it with syrupy sweet condensed milk…or black.  Hot or iced.

By 830 we’re off.  Headed for the Mekong Delta.  Our destination is the area surrounding two cities…My Tho and Ben Tre. We head out of the city without incident in the dense morning traffic.  Soon we’re on the only stretch of highway in Vietnam where there are no motorscooters allowed.  For an expat like me it’s a thrill to actually ride at 80km/hr without screeching horns and scorching brakes!

In a short hour and half we’re there. It’s a place where several islands dot the wide river. Our bus parks in a treed park surrounded by a few pavilion style structures.  And a dock where we step onto a boat that appears to be a retrofitted barge.  Woven seats and a wailing engine accompany us to our first stop 20 minutes later.

We are surrounded by tropical forest.  A packed mud path at our feet and sunshine on our heads.  It’s a magical morning.  Really.  Our first stop is a family business that produces rice paper rounds.  What Vietnamese use to wrap their spring rolls.  Both the deep fried crunchy variety and the fresh salad roll style.

We get a demonstration from our guide and some of the workers.  It’s a primitive method.  Almost all steps in the process are done by hand.  Very little electrical machinery is involved.  We like this old fashioned way of production.  Every product is one of a kind.  No cookie cutters to make everything perfect.  The small differences in each rice paper round…about 12” in diameter intrigue us.

There is a souvenir kiosk here.  There is one at every stop we make today, we discover.  But we don’t mind.  The simple farmlike settings we encounter make us realize these people work hard and long to make a living.  We applaud their serene smiling faces and their invitations for us to buy.

Dave buys a beautiful carved coconut wood tea pot warmer.  A coconut purse painted with a huge pink flower.  I bought 6 small coconut wood forks.  Perfect for spearing chunks of fruit after dinner.

It’s time for lunch.  We stop at a cool enclave of a few newer concrete homes, a wooden (museum) furnished like in an upscale country manner from a hundred years ago.

We sit at round tables.  Lunch is a variety of Vietnamese dishes.  Caramelized Pork, chicken, Pomelo Salad and a hot soup of pork and okra and sprouts and tomatoes.  A delicious and healthy meal.  And I know it’s authentic.  I’ve been here long enough to know what that is!

After lunch we trek a short distance to waiting ponies attached to wooden carts with benches.  We all board one of the carts and canter off to our next stop. Again we tramp through the trees. We reach the river again. On to another production venue.  Aboard our clamoring boat. This time we disembark beside a few rows of beehives.  Weatherbeaten boxes. Silent. No buzzing. But we know they are there. A hundred yards down the path we discover a young lad of about 10 holding a framed honey comb swarming with bees.  Dave poses bravely.   I know he’s not nuts about bees.  He had a few stinging experiences as a kid. But he seems ok today.  We snap a photo.

Nearby we taste honey tea.  It’s sweet. But not cloying.  Just like honey and tea should taste.  I buy a small bottle.  This will be nice dribbled into fruit smoothies.  Fresh from the islands of the Mighty Mekong.

We move on yet again.  This is a day trip worth every penny…all of $15.  A lot of places to go and things to see. But all within a very short distance from each other.  And all with some small snack or drink.

And the ubiquitous souvenir stall!

This time we embark on small canoe-like barks. We step into the middle of the boats.  A single line of us.  Maybe 5 per boat and a oarsman…or oarswoman.  Our boat is guided by an oarsman.  Maybe 16 or 18 years old.  One oar moving us briskly through the small tributary of the main river.

It is drizzling rain.  The wind flashes through the Water Coconut Palms.  It’s cool and mysterious.  A bit eerie.  But I love the glide through the water. Another boat tries to overtake us but someone grabs an extra oar and pushes us a little faster.

Raindrops dot the water happily.  Only a few of us have hats.  I don’t see one umbrella.

Just as we near our next stop, our vociferous boat, the rain stops.  There is sun again.  We move to our final stop.  A coconut candy production house.

It’s another place sheltered in the forest. More handmade products from the coconut flesh.  A grinder.  A masher.  A mixer.  A few hands to fold nuts and coconut mash together.  And many more hands to wrap the small candies in rice paper (edible) and a wrapper.

I see a small boy at the table.  He must belong here.  I wonder how much coconut he eats.  Or maybe non at all.  He’s outgrown it.  Familiarity breeds contempt!

We all chomp on a few samples.  I buy a package.  I don’t need it.  But it’s one way to add a little income to the community.  And the coconut candy is quite tasty.

Time to head back to the bus.  Once more we board Noisy Nancy.  Or Noisy Ngan.  We are Vietnam after all.

Our trip back to Saigon is another hour and a half.  The traffic is calm.  I’m surprised.  We end up right back where we started.  Next to Sasa Café where we had breakfast.

Sinh Tourist really know how to give us all a Good Time in the Delta.  A Great Day.

Dinner is just around the corner.

Maxim is where we’re headed.  Right beside the Majestic Hotel.  And it is majestic.  But Maxim is majestic too.  It’s my favorite Vintage Elegant Restaurant in all of Vietnam.  And it’s been there forever.  A landmark.

It’s beautifully and elegantly decorated in embroidered fabrics and vintage tiles and painted walls…superscaled Lotus flowers and Champa flowers. The light fixtures are silk paneled and embroidered.  There are crisp white table cloths and waiters at your elbow.

At 7pm the musicians arrive.  Piano, bass, violin and saxophone.  Just what you’d expect.  Quiet music to fit the ambience.

Our day ends about 930pm.  It was long and lovely.

Tomorrow we’ll relax a bit more.

Goodnight. Again.

DAY 4 OF BROTHER VISIT

Can’t believe that we have to say Good-bye today…already.  But never mind, we have the whole day. Dave’s plane departs at nearly midnight!  Maybe  today we’ll relax a bit more.  Find the time to breathe a bit.  We’ve been running around seeing the sights and dining a bit on the swank.  We’ll find something(s) quieter to keep us busy today.  How’s that for an oxymoron? Well, we’re not morons so we start with breakfast at the hotel.  It’s a small dining room, really just for guests.  But the manager’s assured me we can be guests for this morning.  We have eggs and coffee.

The ceiling makes me smile.  A bit of grandeur in a small space.  Vietnamese are good at inventing creative ceiling work. Can’t say I always find it appealing, but this one’s a STAR!

I said we’d relax a bit more today, didn’t I?  Off for some Royal Treatment.  My favorite place for a foot massage.  Here they include a head, neck, arms and back massage too!  Told ya it was the Royal Treatment!

I guess if the staff practice on each other enough they should know what they’re doing.  Well that’s the logic anyway.

Here’s the beginning…a head and face massage with some real old fashioned liniment to get the nose breathing in some healing fumes!

You’ll have to believe me…the masseur/masseuses really did a great job.  An hour and a quarter massage for 10 bucks including tip.  Even a BAD massage might be worth #10!

Time to head back to the hotel to check out.

There are some cool vintage cars schlepping around Saigon.  Those French officers knew how to live the good life.  Or did this one belong to an American officer…?  Anyway, it’s a Vietnamese car afficionado driving the old sedan these days…and a ton of new ones too!  They say there are more Rolls Royce’s per capita in Vietnam than any other country right now.  Hmmm….how did THAT happen?  (A little corruption sometimes goes a long way…ha!  Oh dear, what did I just say…?)

Here are couple of officials to direct Life In The Fast Lane here in Old Saigon.  Bet they don’t drive Mercedes Benz.  Probably not even a car.  Well, they do tell us where to park (our motorcycles) and keep Traffic Order.  What little there is.  Unless you’ve been here you’ll never get THAT joke!   Noon now.  Time to check out.

Checkout over.  Off to the new Bitexco Tower.  The tallest building in Vietnam.

Wikipedia explains again:

Bitexco Financial Tower is a skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, owned by Bitexco Group, a Vietnamese company. With 68 floors above ground and three basements, the building has a height of 262.5 metres (861 ft), making it the 124th tallest building in the world. It was designed by New York City based Carlos Zapata Studio, and is located in the business district of the city. The tower was the tallest building in Vietnam from 2010 to early 2011 when Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower topped out on 24 January 2011.

History

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in September 2005. Two years later, in June 2007, construction of the tower started and was scheduled to be completed in mid-2009.[2] The tower, however, topped out in mid-2010 and had its inauguration ceremony on 31 October 2010.

Highlights

Bitexco Financial Tower has more than 16 elevators that can reach any position and any floor in the building within 45 seconds. When the building comes into operation, about 10,000 people will work there. Because of its size, the project is designed with three basements covering 33,000 square metres (360,000 sq ft) for parking and for equipment for the building’s operation. The tower is located on an area of 6,000 square metres (65,000 sq ft) with the floor area of over 100,000 square metres (1,100,000 sq ft). Total estimated cost of this project is more than US$220 million. With the completion, Bitexco Financial Tower is the tallest building in Ho Chi Minh City, reaching 262.5 meters (861 ft) in height. The tallest building in Vietnam will still be the Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower at 336 meters (1,102 ft). The tower is mostly made of steel and glass and shaped as a lotus petal. The lotus is considered a symbol of Vietnamese culture

Facilities

A helipad is located on the 50th floor at the height of 191 meters (627 ft) from the ground. This helipad is a unique feature of the tower, projecting outward from the tower itself. An observation deck is also located on the 49th floor, below the helipad. At this height, visitors can see a 360° view of the city. Access to the observation deck is a ticketed feature. Each ticket costs 200,000 VND (about 10 USD).

Yeah…about $10 each to the SkyDeck…floor 49…the official observation floor.  But we’ll beat the system.  We head to the 50th floor.  It’s free to get there.  We can get a coffee there for half that and take in the view while we’re at it.  Wow, expensive coffee!  (But let’s not be TOO cheap!)

Yup, it’s a long way up.

Hey, wait a minute.  It’s not THAT big a deal.  Just here in Saigon.  It’s the biggest deal we’ve got.  To get high anyway.

I suppose it’s always good to view a city from overhead.  Up there Saigon shows an unexpected amount of nature with all the trees those Green French planted a hundred years ago lining the streets.

Time for lunch.  We pass along the concourse of The Tower and head across the street.

We pass a huge window advertising a fashion shop.  “Katy is all in”.  I chuckle wondering if Dave’s grand daughter, Katy is “all in”.  She’s just completed High School. Graduates this week!  She MUST be “all in”.  It’s a big milestone!

And one last look at Bitexco Tower again…thanks to Wikipedia (again!)

Nhu Lan cafe is one of my favorite places for a cheap, good lunch.  Especially Banh Mi…the famous Vietnamese sub-style sandwich.  Subway, eat your heart out!  And the Banh Mi is only $1…!

Not sure how impressed Dave is with HIS Banh Mi.  Maybe Subway is calling!

.

Lunch is over.  We must stick to our schedule on this relaxed day.  Ha!  After a short stop back at home we head out to visit one of my great friends.  A famous Vietnamese art collector.  He and his wife live in a suburb about 40 minutes from Downtown Old Saigon.  Mr. Long began collecting only 10 years ago.  He has managed to amass more than 1500 paintings.  Most of the artists are dead.  So you can imagine his Collection is not Small Stuff.  Too bad it’s that way.  Why can’t more artists get famous before they leave us?  Well, who said life always makes sense?  Mr. Long and his wife Ms. Thao live in a lovely 4 storey home they built 3 years ago.  The second floor is a display gallery showcasing about 50 works of art.  Mr. Long and Ms. Thao’s most recent acquisition is their 2 month old Little Darling.  A girl.  She slept the entire time we visited.  We spent most of the time in the Gallery.  Mr. Long discussed a lot of history and information of his collection.  It was fascinating.  I’ve been there several times. But I always enjoy his talks.  Downstairs on the ground floor we admire some of their antiques and sit for awhile before we say Good-Bye.

Home again.  Dinnertime.  Before we get in a cab again.  Destination Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Well…as they say, All Good Things Must Come To An End.  Asiana Airlines heads for Korea at 11:39pm.  The monitor says they’re on time.  Good-Bye is seldom fun.  But memories of this visit are!  A BIG HUG.  And you’re on your way, Dave.  Air flights are nothing new to you.  But no one really looks forward to those long hauls, no matter how seasoned one is.  Hopefully you’ll sleep well in the Seoul Airport…the famous Incheon Terminal.

See you next time…Soon I hope.

4 DAYS IN VUNG TAU or C’EST BON…CAP ST. JACQUES!

In my last post I wrote about Vung Tau…today a quiet scenic peninsula lined with rocky beaches and sunshine and clouds that tower in the Wild Blue. A gentle place with humid days and cool evenings. Remnants of the French who favored this short drive from Saigon to the Sea.

They called it Cap St. Jacques back then.  It still feels a little French.  But mostly it’s a mishmash of contemporary Vietnamese hotel architecture that’s Pretty  Bad.  Some newer modes are hitting some grace notes.  Especially some of the homes of the Viet Nouveau Riche.

Nevermind the Good, Bad and Ugly. It’s a Beautiful Place.  A Catch Your Breath Place.  A Listen to the South China Sea Place!

We went on the VINA Express Hydrofoil.  It’s the fast way to Vung Tau.  Slipping just above the water for an hour and a half.  And then rolling into the Vung Tau Futuristic Terminal in one of the quiet bays.  It’s not quiet there though.  Loudspeakers hammer all day posting the next sailings.  But it’s only steps away to tranquility.

Ride with me (on our rented Honda Nuovo)  for some of the photos we snaffled.   A WOW sky.  Coffee at Classic Garden.  From our middle of the road hotel room to the exquisite Binh An Resort Restaurant and lots of In Between Stuff.

The trip home was uneventful.  With a dead battery in the camera.  We took too many photos anyway.

Adieu Cap St. Jacques!

Vung Tau, Vietnam War, Folk Songs…and Me!

SIGH…………..!  I FEEL LIKE A NUT CASE!  CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO WHAT I WANT ON THIS BLOG!  When Will I Ever Learn?  When Will I Ever Learn?!

BUT…today I’ve returned to my blog to TRY again!  I really DO wanna DO this!  I get lost in the mechanics of it still. Just a disorganized mess so far.  Don’t understand the “how to’s”.  My eyes flit over the screen not seeing the instructions clearly.  Not understanding.

Then I think of the more Poignant Stuff of life.  I wax philosophical when I can’t think of what else or how else to do something…anything.  But not without meaning.

Just back from Vung Tau. Today a quiet scenic peninsula lined with rocky beaches and sunshine and clouds that tower in the Wild Blue. A gentle place with humid days and cool evenings. Remnants of the French who favored this short drive from Saigon to the Sea.  They called it Cap St. Jacques back then.  It still feels a little French.  But mostly it’s a mishmash of contemporary Vietnamese hotel architecture that’s Pretty  Bad.  Some newer modes are hitting some grace notes.  Especially some of the homes of the Viet Nouveau Riche.  Nevermind the Good Bad and Ugly. It’s a Beautiful Place.  A Catch Your Breath Place.  Listen to the South China Sea Sing Place!

Vung Tau.  The setting of the final DAY of retreat and escape for the Last Americans left in Saigon.  April 30, 1975.  For Frightened Vietnamese who had to GET OUT for fear of their lives.  They were the ones who had “collaborated” with the ENEMY.  Only America held hope.  But only a very few could climb that ladder into the hovering helicopters over the roof of the American Embassy.  Dozens of helicopters.  Looping 100 km to Vung Tau and the waiting Navy Ships of the USA…then back again.  Freedom. No more fuel.  Some crashing into the sea.  Some landing.  Vung Tau burning.  It wasn’t quiet then.  Then no one thought of the Sounds of the Surf.  Of the Craggy Cliffs.  Of the Gorgeous Green.  Only Desolation…Desperation…and Deliverance!

Wikipedia says:  (On April 29 and 30, 1975) Marine pilots accumulated 1,054 flight hours and flew 682 sorties (from Saigon to Vung Tau) throughout Operation Frequent Wind (the evacuation program), evacuating 5,000 from Tan Son Nhut (Saigon International Airport) and 978 U.S. and 1,120 Vietnamese and third-country nationals from the Embassy.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Embassy,_Saigon

Saigon liberated?  Saigon fallen?  Who knew?

Vung Tau is one place where marines and soldiers sometime return for catharsis. Freedom.  From the Devil of Memory.  The Trauma That Won’t Go Away.  Nobody knew about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome back then.  Nobody knew another 100,000 plus Vietnam Vets would end their own lives to end their Dueling with their Demons in the next few years.

Can this be true?  Really?  Who can know for sure.  There are some hard cold facts.  Read them here on Wikipedia.

Pete Seeger wasn’t far off when he penned and performed WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE.   Many of those who died never did get flowers.  No one knows their graves.  No flowers to honor the Final Resting Place of the Fallen.  Sad.

Two million Vietnamese fell.  Thousands of Americans…and Allies fell.  When Will We Ever Learn?

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE 
performed by Pete Seeger and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger here

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

©1961 (Renewed) Fall River Music Inc
All Rights Reserved.

And still they fall.  When Will We Ever Learn?

I can’t seem to learn how to post like I want to. But it doesn’t REALLY matter.

Seems so much more important to see LIFE in some kind of Peace…HARMONY.  Some kind of music that sings a song of hope and joy.  Yet not forgetting the dirge that still continues.  Maybe a bit like Pete Seeger.  He still advocates for Peace…the way he sees it.  And he’s been at it a long time.  He’s 93.   (Pete Seeger is here on Wikipedia)

When Will (I) We Ever Learn?

Gallows Humor once said, “The only thing man learns from history is that man doesn’t learn from history”.

I still prefer think to think the World’s a Good Place.  And getting better.  In Some Ways.

 

                     A little more about Pete Seeger and the Vietnam War… according to Wikipedia:  

Vietnam War era

A longstanding opponent of the arms race and of the Vietnam War, Seeger satirically attacked then-President Lyndon Johnson with his 1966 recording, on the album Dangerous Songs!?, of Len Chandler‘s children’s song, “Beans in My Ears“. Beyond Chandler’s lyrics, Seeger said that “Mrs. Jay’s little son Alby” had “beans in his ears,” which, as the lyrics imply,[57] ensures that a person does not hear what is said to them. To those opposed to continuing the Vietnam War, the phrase implied that “Alby Jay” was a loose pronunciation of Johnson’s nickname “LBJ,” and sarcastically suggested “that must explain why he doesn’t respond to the protests against his war policies.”[citation needed]

Seeger attracted wider attention starting in 1967 with his song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy“, about a captain—referred to in the lyrics as “the big fool”—who drowned while leading a platoon on maneuvers in Louisiana during World War II. In the face of arguments with the management of CBS about whether the song’s political weight was in keeping with the usually light-hearted entertainment of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the final lines were “Every time I read the paper/those old feelings come on/We are waist deep in the Big Muddy and the big fool says to push on.” The lyrics could be interpreted as an allegory of Johnson as the “big fool” and the Vietnam War as the foreseeable danger. Although the performance was cut from the September 1967 show,[58] after wide publicity[59] it was broadcast when Seeger appeared again on the Smothers’ Brothers show in the following January.[60]

Inspired by Woody Guthrie, whose guitar was labeled “This machine kills fascists”,photo Seeger’s banjo was emblazoned with the motto “This Machine Surrounds Hate and Forces It to Surrender.”photo

In the documentary film The Power of Song, Seeger mentions that he and his family visited North Vietnam in 1972.


IT’S A CHALLENGE TO GET THIS BLOGGING DOWN PAT!

After a few hits for homerun and finding myself striking out regarding posting photos, I went into beginner’s remorse and thought if I ignored my blog it might go away!  But no such luck…it just kept calling me back.  So I’m not going to quit.  Well, not YET anyway.

I’m off to Vung Tau tomorrow for a few days.  I’ll keep in touch.  Will snap a lot of photos…and AFTER I complete my BROTHER VISIT posts…..((!)……..I’ll get to whatever happens on this little foray out of Saigon.

SO…tomorrow morning it’ll be “All Aboard” the Vina Express Hydrofoil.  Catch ya later!

HOW TO LINK….link….!?

Today’s experiment day with links.  I’m such a goof when it comes to “just knowing” what to do with all this blogging IT.  How is it many folks…especially the young ‘uns “just know” how to zip that cursor through the maze of clicks and saves and copying and cutting and pasting.  It’s like magic.  Half the time when I’m being instructed I don’t even see the cursor. I’m still in shock that it can be possible to travel at light speed like this and get all the linking done post haste…and all the photos inserted.  And all the other myriad of operations that make blogging easy and entertaining.

But…today I’m experimenting.  Let’s see how I do. Snail’s pace, I know.  But bear with me.  I’m trying!

I introduced myself  here.  Did this work?  Well I’ll just wander back and check.  Hang on a minute.  I’ll be right back.

Yup…Got it.  At least I think I did.  We’ll see Next Time!

TODAY I’LL INTRODUCE MY POETRY…READ ON! (OR NOT…!)

Poetry isn’t most people’s “thing”.  Is it? I don’t expect any kind of following.  Or any long line of Those Who Appreciate Monstrous Creativity!  But I’ve thought for a long time about submitting – just a little of my work – to some publishers.  Or magazines. But I guess my poems are my babies.  And I love them.  Well, not ALL of them, but enough that I just want to take care of them myself.  And read them myself.

Well, that’s what I’ve told myself so far.

But now I’m thinking not that many folks will be perusing my blog anyway. So I’m safe to cradle those babies here where they’ll be safe and warm!

A couple today.  VIETNAM was written after one of my first forays to Saigon. It’s not really poetry.  More of a “ballad”.  So don’t judge me on this one.  It’s not meant to be high literature!  But it IS meant to give you some word pictures. If you read a bit then close your eyes, read a bit more, close your eyes…and repeat the process, it will give you some idea of the real story.  You won’t be far off.  Maybe pretty close!

VIETNAM 

The embroidery of rice paddies, corrugated roofs, people specks,

brackish snaking rivers all aglow in afternoon sun

appear like a picture framed for posterity

from my window seat on Vietnam Airlines.

 

The cool orderliness of the nondescript airport fools the first time caller. 

Gentle bespoke officials are near-silent drones

On the street the humidity assaults like summer downpour

and the result is virtually the same.

 

What a complex jumble; this chaotic disorganization of ramshackle…

this Vietnam!  Order seems blatantly nowhere. 

To the new eye everything races against time,

and perpetual motion runs like school children in argument.

 

Amid this symphony of clang I emerge.

The traffic is an unending onslaught of pedestrians, vehicles,

bicycles, motorcycles, contraptions of all sorts,

running like a river!

 

The trick is to advance slowly into oncoming traffic

and magically…

it can only be magic…

the two sides converge, diverge…and life goes on.

 

The sound is from engines, the bellow of horns,

the noise of loudspeakers here and there. 

A most inexplicable kind of peaceful quiet.  How?

It’s the ubiquitous ease of the people…passive everywhere.

 

But the people laze in a soft haze, never a flurry…

only motion moderating through the streets…

in this squabble of populace, bellow of motorcycles, shrieking of horns

and rabble of hawkers, beggars, gentlemen and ladies.

 

On the back of Mr. Moto I ride,

my friend at the controls and I see a wide world pass. 

It’s sensory overload…colors, sounds, pictures everywhere…

more stills than video. 

 

I see a thousand pictures, and there are no words enough, to describe.

A woman in bright chartreuse, immaculate…chops for dinner…for sale. 

A hundred school boys, bright-eyed in blue and white, dance their calisthenics in the school yard,

robots playing follow the leader.

 

We meet a passel of five fat saffron monks,

all pictures of Father Buddha…

round-faced and flopping together,

crammed into the moto-jig that rides them to their celestial places.

 

Fresh faced school girls, virgin-white, gaggle together,

white slit skirts over traditional white trousers covered demurely to the neck.

Some ride bicycles, tall, straight, commanding quietly their wheeled barks,

a tri-corner of their front scapular held to the handle bar.

 

The restaurants…dives and caves and holes-in-the-wall,

lovely, charming canopied spaces with quiet breezes,

bricks and mortar places with awnings, decks and open walls. 

Short skirted waitresses, lean boys with smiles, serve Vietnam!

 

Houses, narrow, narrow and tall, tall…out of scale…

next to jumble, tumbledown, dominate the streets,

and everywhere at ground zero are the shops. 

Could all this mesmerizing collection sell?  When?

 

This riot of color, from the laissez-faire coordination of one woman,

to the fastidious perfection of another, is beyond eye-comprehension.

So Vietnam flows…streams of motion; hum and thrum,

But a peaceful flood somehow soothings.

 

Finally…once again

the cool orderliness of the nondescript airport meets me.

Gentle bespoke officials are still near near-silent drones.

Once again

 

The embroidery of rice paddies, corrugated roofs, people specks,

brackish snaking rivers all aglow in afternoon sun

appear like a picture framed for posterity

from my window seat on Vietnam Airlines.

One more for today.

Speaking of flying:  On leaving the ground. Hanoi, bound for Saigon. Vietnam Airlines.  A couple of years ago.

BIG BIRD

 Big Bird trundles like a two year old,

tipsy, uncertain on the bubbled tarmac.

And like a toddler we weave side to side

in inelegant forward belches.

 

Or is it more like a 2am drunk

distilled in early morning blur?

 

Then, like a swan,

we take to the Autumn winds over Hanoi

and soar like the child grown to twenty-something

with an Olympic gold over the high jump!

Well there you are! You’ve been introduced to the poet!  Did you get the picture(s)?  Hopefully.

More to come.