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Friday, October 03, 2008

Back from the North

Well, I am back in Kuala Lumpur after a six day stay in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was a nice stay there, I consider myself fortunate to break away from the traditional happenings of a mid-semester break. Things happened pretty quickly. There's a lot to put in , I'll probably take more than one post to fit everything in. For now, I'll at least cover day 1 in Ho Chi Minh City.

                                The National Flag of Vietnam

I left with my family on board a 7 o'clock night flight from LCCT to Ho Chi Minh International Airport. As you would guess from the name LCCT, I took an Air Asia flight. It was funny, I met Richard and one of my course mates at the LCCT. Both of them were heading back to Kuching. I should see them both in a couple of days.

The flight was all right, I had a 1901 hot dog on the flight, which wasn't really worth it. I have to say my mother's 'Pak Naseer' Nasi Lemak was better, and I find it pretty good actually. I had that on the flight home from Ho Chi Minh.

We arrived slightly early, by about five minutes or so. My parents changed the time on their watches. In Vietnam, the time's set earlier than Malaysia by one hour. So, if it's 9 o'clock in Ho Chi Minh, it's 10 o'clock back home.

So we went through the imigration counters, and there I saw the familiar uniforms. Even during the time I was living in Vietnam, almost every government servant, let it be a police officer or customs officer they all have the similar green uniform that really reminds me of a former communist era. Vietnam is still very much a communist country by the way, but like China, it's opening up to the idea of capitalism. You can see it by the large amount of real estate activity going on there. The airport certainly looked newer, we were in the new wing of the airport that had only opened a few years back.

    A security officer outside, regardless the post, most of them have the same style uniform (remember 'everyone's the same' concept in Communism?)

That wing of the airport was pretty empty at the time so we cleared all the airport checkpoints pretty quickly. We went outside where we would be met by our family friend's driver. One important thing to note here is that expatriates are not allowed to drive in Vietnam if I'm not mistaken. So it's either you have a driver (usually provided by the company you work for) or you have to take a cab.

We went straight to meet our family friends, Mr. Raymond Chin and his family, his wife Mei and their two twins, really cute daughters, Faith and Joy at the . The one thing I had come to Vietnam to do, eat 'Cha Gio', fried spring rolls, was accomplished that same night. Mr. Chin had already ordered before we arrived at the restaurant. I have to say, that restaurant was pretty sweet. The interior decor was pretty cozy, very warm. They had these booths that would have been perfect for a date, all dark and everything with dim lightings.

   One of the booths

It was pretty cool when the quartet came on and played some soothing jazz music. All of them were local musicians, playing the piano, double bass, saxophone and violin. I have got to say, it just made things perfect. Having dinner with live jazz in the background was just sweet. I have never experienced something like that before so it was really nice for me.

That was the end of that, I know there's very few photos so far, but I promise I'll get into them when I post more about the next few days in Vietnam.