Bourgeosie to proletariat
Halong Bay was incredibly beautiful and we're so glad we went, even though so much of the experience was strange and oddly European. The landscapes were really beautiful and a little eerie. We were supposed to be picked up by the tour guy after our cruise, but he didn't show up. So we took a public bus, which took 3 1/2 hours and was really interesting and fun. We were the only people on the bus who weren't Vietnamese, and no one spoke English as far as we could tell, beyond one guy who spoke a couple of words.
The bus stopped at seemingly random times and places to let people off and to pick them up. There was a conductor guy who was in charge of taking money and keeping order, and dragging potential passengers onto the bus. We stopped once for an old woman, and when she climbed on the bus and saw there were no seats, she tried to get off. The conductor guy was trying to drag her on, she was trying to get off, and she finally won the tug of war.
We thought we had booked the best room, on the beach, but it turns out we had a room with a view of the beach over the rooftops of the rooms on the beach. That's OK. It took us quite awhile to actually get a room, though: the first one was the wrong room, the second had twin beds, the third had an ok bed but no air conditioning, so we went back to the 2nd room. The air was cool and we were happy. We went into town for a great dinner of Hoi An specialties, which was really the best meal we've had so far. When we got back to our room, the air conditioning was not working, so Marc called the front desk. At one point there were 3 guys there, with ladders and power tools and a huge double A/C air blower. After lots of back and forth (bait and switching, Marc suspects), we finally had air again.
This morning the sun was out and the sky was blue with little white clouds, the temperature was great and we had a wonderful breakfast out on the terrace of the restaurant. This picture is my first course, and the fruit was really sweet and wonderful.
After breakfast we went into Hoi An with two purposes: to find a tailor so we could buy some silk clothing, and to buy a computer mouse since my touchpad has gone wacky. It was hot and steamy by then, which made Marc very happy. We had been talking a lot about how we didn't feel we are in a communist country, but today we finally got the feeling:
These great signs were plastered along a fence in front of some kind of large yellow building. We knew a photo op when we saw one, so first I posed in front of the one with the dove.
This was the other poster, noble workers of the world. Marc posed and as I took the picture, a very stern policeman came towards us; he looked like a member of the red guard. We decided it would be smart if we walked away without taking any more pictures. We never did know what the building was, but it must have been something official.
The only other thing that gave us any impression of being in a communist country was a loudspeaker with party rhetoric (?); at least it wasn't GW's b.s. and no one seemed to care about it anyway. They were too busy with their entrepreneurial ventures to pay any attention to it.
So we found the tailor we were looking for and spent an hour or so being fitted and choosing cloth and patterns, and then we were off on our second mission, to find a mouse. When we first got to Hoi An, we had tried to track down the computer store but we had an interminable period of frustration since we couldn't find anyone who understood us. A mouse? The women at the tailor shop spoke enough english to understand what we wanted and someone agreed to take us to the store. I thought we'd walk, but Marc wasn't surprised when they pulled out 2 motorcycles. He got on the back of one and I got on the other, and we were off. It was really so much fun. We got the mouse, and headed back to the hotel for a swim. So much fun, so much happiness.
Here is a little statue in one of our gardens. There are churches with crosses on the steeples, and buddhas everywhere, including a large plastic buddha on the dashboard of our public bus. This seems odd to me, for a communist country, but apparently I don't really understand what that means here.
So here we are now, on the South China Sea, on the upper level of a fancy resort hotel, typing on our blog over a wireless internet connection. What a funny world. Bizarro.