Dec 4, 2006
After being suitably spa-ified, lunch was in order. As we wandered down streets and alleyways we stuck our heads inside a restaurant called "Mandarin" to look at the menu. Apparently President Bush ate there during the recent summit, good thing he didn't have to cover the bill as the prices were outrageous, so we smiled, said thank you and headed for the door - Keegan and Evan still managed to get a couple of hugs and pats on the way out. Some more strolling around found us in front of "the only Nepalese restaurant in all of Vietnam". How can you turn that one down particularly when Doreen is our resident (spent six weeks in Nepal) Nepalese restaurant expert. As you can see by the "Dreamy" gaze the spa-ified effects still hadn't worn off quite yet. The big brown glass of Vietnamese Iced Coffee was in this next photo intentionally. When I'm adding sugar and milk to coffee (which I never do) you know its bad, I managed three sips, then abandoned it. Luckily, lunch was great, so it's easy to overlook the bad coffee.
Big lunches and spas lead to afternoon naps, which left Evan and I ready for an adventure while Doreen and Keegan caught some zzzzzz's. So off we went to find Le Loi street. Evan has decided he really likes the fire hydrants here, they are kinda cool. I think this other photo is great, Evan standing in front of a large statue of Ho Chi Minh in the background.
Here's a close up of Uncle Ho, I was trying to get the Vietnamese flag fully extended but the wind wasn't fully cooperative. For anyone who is a history buff, the Rex Hotel if quite famous, rather than go into detail you can Google it yourself.
Evan managed to keep a sharp eye out for fire hydrants, this one had an added bonus of having a hand made broom leaning up against it. By the time we bumped into the covered marketplace, Evan was ready for some refreshment so he pounded back a can of mango juice and a can of apple juice. The juice came with complimentary hugs and great interest from, well, everyone.
Here's Evan standing in front of a coffee cafe' that we stuck our heads into. How was it, in a word, horrible. Fancy place, great staff, little sample roaster's onsite (I think Jabez Burns) and a selection of freshly roasted. Once I explained that I didn't want anything with Robusta in it, the barista offered to pull me a shot while we were waiting for my coffee to drip. The espresso was bad. The coffee was worse. Luckily, Evan's fresh coconut and milk blender juice was good and helped to strip away some of the coffee nastiness.
That's right, we found Candy Land at Saigon Centre, we never went in but I thought the photo was kind of fun. Traffic gets pretty busy in the evenings, already Evan has seen more motorbikes in his young life than most of Calgary. Motorbikes - there's a lot of 'em.
After a big adventure day, Evan managed to make it to dinner time. Into his first spoonful of Beef Pho over at "Pho 24", his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he proceed to crash-out on two chairs slid together, using his backpack as a pillow. How much for two big bowls of Pho, two "333 Beer" and some spring rolls? If you guessed $7.00 Cdn you were right - nice!
What you don't see in this last photo is the waiter who hovered around us; he chopped up Keegan's noodles for him, removed any bits that Keegan didn't like, brushed off any noodles that fell on his t-shirt, wiped his chin with lots of freshly steamed napkins, picked him up and carried him around to introduce him to all the other staff, etc, etc. If it was the first time it happened I would be shocked and amazed (particularly since the Calgary restaurant service is, as a generalization, almost completely lacking in good service) but looking back on our first day I think the boys are going to be treated like royalty. How could it get better? Hard to imagine, though George W. Bush is onto something with the no-paying-the-bill thing. ;-)