After arriving in Saigon at 6 am, I and a couple of guests from my hotel walked the short distance to the Hong Hai hotel where we were booked for the night. The ride on the sleeper bus was uneventful and I had a good nights sleep thanks to my little magic sleeping pills.
The first day in Saigon was caulk full of events and I hope I can remember all of them. Drifter had asked if the Pilipino scam artists were still at work, so as I was walking along the park, I kept my eyes open. Sure enough, I had not even walked 10 meters into the park before I was approached by a woman that had a few questions for
me. As soon as I mentioned that I leved here, she backed off and conferred with her partner. I carried along the park until I reached the front of the New World Hotel, where a cyclo driver friend of mine waits for customers. He pointed out other Pilipino people walking about the park and saying
how bad they were for stealing from tourists. I wandered around and tried to get photos of these people to share with all of you, but it was extremely difficult. I would pose as a tourist trying to take a picture of some random thing, hoping they would walk into view. They were too cagey for that, and stopped short before getting into camera range. I was even approached by them asking what I was taking pictures of. I just replied it was non of their concern. Suffice it to say that the criminal activity is as it was before the recent crackdown by the police.
I also reported in an earlier blog that all the sex and drugs had disappeared from the tourist area. Well, that did not last long. It is back in all it’s glory. It is not as near as in your face as the past, but it is there. I imagine in a month or two it will be as if nothing happened. The re-emergence of them was a bit odd for me. Many of them remembered me from my many visits to Saigon, and instead of trying to hook me as a customer, I was now being rubbed up against, or having my but pinched and having coos of what I was missing whispered in my ears, along with a slap on the rear end. (all jokingly of course) I am starting to develop a relationship with this strange place. I am sure it will make for very good blogs in the future. I have to admit that I really do not like being in Saigon very much. Yes there are some very wonderful people. The street hawkers and cycle cowboys who hassle the tourists are sweet and friendly to me and I have spent some time with them. Sadly, once in a while a person will try to get some money from me with a legitimate excuse, but I cannot help. If I did, I would have to help everybody. Anyway……enough about that.
I stayed at the same hotel where I met my loving daughter like Khuyen. To my sadness, the other sweetie that I liked so much (Tra) has left and only a poor overworked Tu remains. Outside the front of the hotel was mourning before a funeral for someone who had passed away. Let me tell you a bit about Funerals in Vietnam.
There are a lot of traditions and cultural practices that make up a funeral, but for this post, I will only give some general information. After a person passes, quite often there will be a almost party like tent set up in front of the home. For a number of days, family and friends will drop by and pay respects. There is almost always a band playing and people giving eulogies. The richer or more loved the person, the more it may go on and the last 2 days is way beyond anything I have ever seen before. The screaming of sorrow would start at 6 am over a professional sound system that could carry the sound for kilometers. The scream would be followed by some kind of talk before drums would start banging and symbols clashing. The whole of District 1 in Saigon was now awake!! There is no escaping the noise… even with ear plugs. It would soon turn to Karaoke of sorrowful sons of ones lost and continue during the day. There were sometimes entertainers and others attending, but about 10 pm…….. is when the volume got turned up to the new level. This was an important person, and everybody is required to know of his passing. Until 2 am, screeching and wailing, along with out of tune Karaoke assailed everybody’s senses. The event ended today with acrobats, and a brass band. They will now load the body on to a vehicle and just as loudly carry on down the road littering the streets with artificial money being thrown from the rear of vehicles littering the city…..
Well,,,, that is about it for now…. I only got part of the day done. I did not even get to the part about spinning the chicken head. Hopefully tomorrow if I have time.