I left my hostel at about 5:30PM in order to catch the last bus to the airport. For some reason, all buses stop at 6AM, making it quite difficult to get around Saigon. At the bus station, near the market, it took me about 15 minutes to figure out that there weren’t any more buses. So reluctantly, I took a motorcycle taxi to the airport. I negotiated a fair price in my opinion of 50,000 Dongs, which was 10x the price of a bus ride.
I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking, but I ended up booking red-eye flights for my whole vacation for CNY this year. It was what was available on the dates that I wanted to fly, and I was in no position to complain much about it, because I had booked the flights in January.
Continue reading “A Week in Saigon”
An upcoming departure always fills me with anticipation, especially when I’m traveling in countries that I’ve never been to before. Thankfully I have been getting ready for the trip for the last few weekends, purchasing a diving mask with my prescription, swimming goggles with my prescriptions, and other miscellaneous things. Just like last year, I’ll be taking along a Gregory Z35 pack, that’s basically it. This time around, I won’t be taking my laptop. I’ll have my iPad filled up with TV shows and books. That should keep me busy. I will be meeting a mate in Dumaguete, Philippines, who will also be scuba diving, but at another resort.
It’s been a long year of work, but I’m finally heading on vacation for CNY starting next week. I have about 3.5 weeks off and I’m heading to Dumaguete in the Philippines to do some scuba diving. Then I’ll be visiting Saigon in Vietnam and bus-ing my way into Cambodia and the temples at Angkor.
On a Monday morning, I was greeted by three cackling birds, sitting on my balcony. I heard them as soon as I woke up. Waking up is strange. It’s like when you emerge out of water. The sounds and sights are all muffled and blurred. You make your way back into reality. Slowly, the world comes back and you start hearing things again. I noticed that I start hearing things first before seeing them, because my eyes are usually closed.
One of them had a cockroach in his mouth, which he quickly dropped, because he was quite excited. They all were. He tried to get it back, but it had fallen down to the ground floor. I like on the 4th. They were all cackling along, to each other and at me. My pets were looking at them strangely, especially my cat Yoda. She didn’t like them and wanted to pounce on them. She started making the strangest sounds.
The birds continued cackling while I continued with my morning routine. When I went out to walk the dog, they flew to another balcony, and promptly came back to cackle some more. They were still on my balcony when I left for work. They stayed in our courtyard for a few hours. They must have been someone’s pet birds. Maybe they had escaped. Their wings weren’t clipped.
Their cackling was quite loud, not melodic, and they seemed to be having a jolly old time. Spike wasn’t too bothered, but the cat definitely wanted to hunt them down. While it seemed quite harmless, it made me feel somewhat weary for most of the week. I’m not superstitious, but it was strange waking up that way. It was also eerie the way that they stayed at my window for so long. For some reason, I imagined them outside the frosted glass of my bedroom window, which is on the other side of the apartment. I’m not sure about this, but it could have just been the loudness of their cackling.
I was on edge, but nothing happened. It was just another random encounter of life.
Six snarling stray dogs came at me and Spike this afternoon while I was walking Spike. They went for Spike, who was pleasantly going about his business at the park. They acted like a hunting pack and were growling, snarling, and snapping. When I saw them approach and surround my Frenchie Spike, who was off leash, I ran at them, shouting and swearing loudly, using my umbrella to scare them.
And scare them I did. They ran off, almost as quickly as they appeared. I pursued them until they were gone. Umbrellas work well with strays, who are usually scared of them and run away. Most strays are scaredy cats; they’ve grown used to men harming them, so they stay away from people who make noise and have umbrellas or sticks.
I realized I hadn’t been afraid and I’d be damned if some ruthless strays would hurt my Frenchie. Spike didn’t move during the exchange. He’s a dominant dog, but he knew that he was outnumbered. They didn’t hurt him either. One of them snapped at his neck and jowls, but I started my charge before they drew blood. Maybe I should have yelled ‘Sparta’.
I still take Spike out every day to the dog park. The membership has slightly altered over the last year. Most of the people who used to come don’t come together anymore. This is down to an annoying dog owner, who was referred to as a “hick” by another Taiwanese. It was implied that she was ignorant of a lot of things. I don’t see her anymore. The language encapsulated her hickness from me.
This means that most nights, Spike hangs out withe a bunch of playful Border Collies, who are quite nice dogs. There’s Star, who’s got a genetically cued herding instinct, and keeps circling other dogs in an effort to herd them. When it doesn’t go her way, she gets really annoyed.
Most nights, I take the time to visit the terrier club that meets every night. I’ve known them for a while and I’ve noticed that Spike, the old dog that he is, likes to interact with them more than with bigger dogs. When Spike was younger, he enjoyed playing around with the big dogs. The big dogs play rough. At around 7 years old, Spike likes it easier.
There is a small poodle named Ciao Pan who keeps porking any bitch that is his size. He is relentless and will screw her for hours if possible. There’s Cue Cue, who keeps wanting to play with an injured terrier. The owner keeps him in his arms, and Cue Cue as well as Ciao Pan keep jumping up on the owner, trying to get to the terrier. They are also relentless in this. It makes me laugh, and I don’t hide that. It’s definitely funny seeing a small fluffy white dog screwing another dog. The other terrier owners try to take their dogs away, but the poodle keeps at it.