Obscure items of (little) interest from HCMC
14.10.2012 - 14.10.2012 31 °C
Another London bus type entry with two new postings in one day. HCMC is a bit of a weird place. Take today for instance. Everything was very surreal indeed. Like in those movies where the picture goes all wavey like you're in a dream. You know how Jill and I like a pagoda ... so we set off in pursuit of the Van Nghiem pagoda on our trusted 152 bus. It turns out to be a spectacular sight with a massive gold Buddha as a centrepiece, flanked by equally large gold statues of some of his disciples, huge 10 feet high wax candles, and beautifully laid out altars. And in the middle of these altars were vast amounts of boxes of Choco-pies, presented as offerings to Buddha. Take away the Choco-pies and the whole space is really beautiful and restful. When we'd had a look around we sat down in the hall for a few minutes of peace and quiet. Suddenly, a monk appeared followed by an entourage of men, a photographer snapping away, and a very glamorous lady came in with a sash around her saying what we thought was "Miss World". It was a bit bizarre but she proceeded to stroll about having her photo taken whilst all these other people were praying. We thought ... is this the real Miss World? It can't be. We surreptitiously inquired and apparently it was. Even if she did look a little short. Now I'm never sure about the pc / non-pc factor that revolves around Miss World but it was too good an opportunity to miss. So we had our photo taken in a pagoda with this very glamorous lady. When she waltzed off we went outside for some lunch and were flicking through our photos ... we noticed the woman's sash actually said "Mrs World". Checking at home we found that there truly is a Mrs World competition and so what you see in the photos is us with the marvelous (and obviously very talented) April Lufriu - Mrs World 2011. A sort of Miss World for married women. We should really have known as the lovely April was only about 5'3" but we were somewhat swept away in the bizarreness of it all!
Whilst in the pagoda we were also latched onto by a very camp man called Hiep who was also thrilled to have his photo taken with Mrs World but was equally besotted with me. This seems to be a bit of a theme in this city and I appear to be attracting the attention of a number of men. Apparently, they all want to improve their English. Which may or may not have been mis-translated in all current Vietnamese / English dictionaries and phrasebooks. I will keep you posted with any future incidents, obviously. In the meantime I will refrain from baking, collecting banana stickers and chasing butterflies with gay abandon - which might have something to do with it.
Today we also came across a brilliant tea shop which sold the best tea in the world. It was hidden down a side alley and no one was inside. We were greeted by the owner and fed amazing orange and durian fruit creme brulees and the most refreshing and reviving tea. He said he'd only been open a month and business was slow ... we were the first English people to visit and no one seemed to know about it, which probably had something to do with the fact that it was completely hidden from the main road and there was absolutely nothing to suggest it was there. He admitted that marketing was not his strong point! He was a lovely bloke but we don't hold out much hope of it being there should we return in a few months. Which is a shame. It was ace.
A strange day, then, in a strange city. In which nothing is as it seems.
Elsewhere, we completed our first run since being over here - run being in the loosest sense of the word. It was a 4K effort at 7.00am but the weather was still blisteringly hot and a woeful 25 minutes later I finished looking very ill indeed. Jill did a very creditable 33 minutes. We will endeavour to improve at the next one next month.
And lastly, we have been thoroughly enjoying the cinema of late. A bargain at £3.00 a go and we have seen the splendid Premium Rush, the tear-jerking Odd Life of Timothy Green, the woeful and distasteful The Watch, and the Bollywood spectacular set in London - Cocktail. Such is the popularity of cinema in Vietnam that we have shared the cinema, in total, with less than 20 people. And they still tell us where we have to sit. Which is very bizarre and just about where we entered this blog post.