4-26-99
Mon
We got up early but we hadn't entered the river yet. We were able to eat and get upstairs before we got in. Today was the first day I have taken my Larium on time. Going into the river was cool but we didn't really stay out that long because they started the diplomatic briefing right afterwards. We stayed in the room for a while and watched it on TV. It was very dry. We went to bed after that. We weren't scheduled to get to Saigon until 1400 so we figured if we got up at around 1130 we could see some of the country side. Well we got up and we were already there. I got up, looked out the window and said, "Ahhh... I think we're there." Andy and I stumbled out on deck and watched us maneuver in the river. I've heard that the ship is 600 ft and the river is only 650 ft. It was tight, even with a pilot it was close. The red communist flags were all flying, it looked really cool. Once again they totally make Vietnam to be something it isn't. I expected a totally 3rd world country and it was anything but. They also said the traffic would be worse than India, it isn't even close. There aren't many traffic lights but there seems to be some kind of an order. But we weren't gong to be cleared for another two hours so we went to eat lunch. While we are eating everyone rushes to the windows to see something going on. I didn't get up right away but it turns out we hit and sank a ship. When I finally got to the window the boat was half underwater. I didn't watch it for long because I didn't believe we had hit it. I didn't feel a bump or anything and we looked fairly far away. I talked to people who were outside and they saw the whole thing. Roomer has it that it was the pilots fault and that the insurance would take care of it. 250,000 dollars is the amount of damage that is out there but who knows if that is true. I just can't believe we sank a ship. It's something I would have never guessed would happen. There was a bank on board so I changed 10 dollars. It felt like I was back in Italy. I had 138,000 Dong in my pocket. I just can't handle those high amounts of money. We putzed around for about an hour then we got cleared. It was the first time we got out on time. Jimmy, Dave, Crystal, other Dave, and one more guy were going straight to the War Crimes Museum. We had to wait for a shuttle in to town, so we waited in the hot sun for almost 20 minutes. I don't like traveling in a big group like that. It is so hard to keep people together and moving. Three is the max I want to go with. I more or less became the person giving the directions (being that I was the only one with a map). Jimmy and I wanted to more but everyone else was slow. It didn't take us that long to get there, I was surprised. It was 10,000 Dong or one dollar to get in. I paid the Dong. You turned right and walked through some US Army equipment. There was a tank, bulldozer, flame thrower, some bombs, and aircraft. There were land mines in one building and a stone dedicated to Vietnam by the people of Hiroshima. The first building you walk into was more or less on American involvement from a numerical outlook. They had numbers of troops, bombs, casualties, and other assorted stuff. The second one was on the effect on the Vietnamese. Pictures from shrapnel, mines, Agent Orange, pictures from the Melay Massacre, and other assorted US war crimes. They were gory but it was what I expected. One thing I didn't were the two deformed fetuses they had in jars. They were in a yellowish liquid and had gross facial deformities. One's lip to its eyes were fused. The other didn't seem to have anything at all, just some groves. The next room was on American war equipment. M16's, shotguns, machine guns, rocket launchers, and other stuff. The next was on world reactions to the war. Naturally it was all focused on the antiwar movements. It was the most biased room but what do you expect, I was expecting it to be much more one sided. I thought it was done in a fair way, I was surprised. The last room was on the tortures of the South Vietnamese government. Of all the rooms this was probably the most biased but I didn't know enough about it to be able to see both sides. That was the last room in the place. I got a red star and Ho Chi Minh shirt. There wasn't anything in the gift shops that I wanted other than the shirts. It was starting to pour so we figured that it would be a cool idea to get in a cab and go to the old US embassy. Well, we got taken for a ride all right. We drove past the old embassy, past the new one they are building, and jot dropped off along the street somewhere. It wasn't so bad, we only paid two dollars a car. The rain had stopped for a while but it looked like it would start again any second so we wanted to find a place to eat. It turned out to be a little hard to find one. We didn't want to eat at a nice place, we wanted to go as local as possible. At least that's what Jimmy and I wanted, the guy who's name I didn't know was wining about how he wanted to eat somewhere safe. We wouldn't have any of that, so we stopped in this shady looking place but once we got in it turned out to be very nice. We got rice and beef and some beans for about a dollar and a half. The hardest part was ordering, no one spoke any English. We just pointed and in ten minutes food came. It was good but not the best. It was dark by the time we got out so we just decided to walk down the street and see where we ended up. The first place we stopped was an art store. I picked up some rice paper paintings for a couple of dollars. Jimmy and Dave each got a hammock from a street vendor. The street vendors were all over the place but they all sold the same things. It's either shirts, zippos, coins, or cigarettes. Plus everything is the same price so it doesn't really matter who you buy it from. We stopped at another place and I got some past cars, but I didn't really want to keep stopping. I wanted to break up the group but they didn't really go for that. Some of it was funny, Michael got one of the vendors trays and was running around trying to sell stuff to SAS kids. It took us forever to make our way down the main street, I was getting quite annoyed. Another thing that hit me is that there were so many children hocking stuff. They all had gum or postcards and they really played on their age. They would hang on your hand and follow you down the street. I carried one kid at least four blocks before she finally left. They weren't just begging like in India but it still made me sic. It was a total exploitation of children. I guess in reality that is all people can do, have kids and send them to the street. It also doesn't help when every SAS little princess walks by and says, "Awwwwe... How cute! I love you!" then gives them money. Why is it that they can not understand that their actions are in the long run hurting these children and just creating more of them. They just can't seem to see past the end of their noses. They just can't grasp the notion that the world goes on without them. They think they are helping but once they leave then what happens? It's like they think the world disappears without them. You think these SAS kids would be learning a little something about the world but I don't really see it. It's sad that people can do something like this and not take something more than a cheep souvenirs home. Oh well, you have to have the yin with yang. We kept on walking to the end of the street so we went down another street and went into this high class bar. The place was totally not my thing. Loud, cheesy techno, flashing lights, and scantily clad women working the bar. I just wanted to get out of there. The prices were sky high so I wasn't getting anything. The Dave's, Michael, and Crystal got drinks but Jimmy and I just ate the free peanuts. It didn't take long before I was trying to get people to leave. Happily Jimmy wanted to jet too so he, Crystal, and I left. We were a little hungry so we decided to hit a cheep restaurant on one of the back streets. We found this really nice one (nice in that it was dirty, small, and inexpensive) in an alleyway. It was just five tables pushed up against the wall. A couple of scooters drove past us while we were sitting there. We got boiled duck soup and Chinese noodles and man were they good. This was the kind of place I wanted to find earlier. The whole thing was about 11,000 Dong between us. From here we slowly made our way back to the main parts of the city. We stopped in a couple music stores but all they had was local music. We were back at the Rex Hotel by around 2220 so I said lets walk around some more. Little did I know that the last shuttle bus to the port came at 2230. We talked to this Australian guy for a while who was living in Saigon, teaching English. I just can't understand how someone can just pick up and leave like that. I think that would be too much for me. We stopped in this little shop and picked up some popsickles then started to walk back. As we were walking back we saw a bus, the last one, heading down the road. We walked up to the stop and asked when the last bus came. Everyone laughed and said that was the last one. It turns out that Crystal had known about the busses but didn't have a watch on so didn't say anything. We weren't really sure where the port was but we wanted to save the money and walk. We kept a brisk pace the whole time. We followed the river and crossed over a bridge. There was this old guy standing on the side of the road who is just like, "You better hurry or you won't make it." We were very close though. These kids were trying to stop us to buy post card but we just blew by them. We were in the gait by 2250 so it took us less than 15 minutes to walk. Now was the real gross sight. There were tow Australian Navy ships docked along side us. All the SAS whores were there making out with or running up to these sailors. It was sickening. All the little sluts are running out of our ship with their little black dresses on to get in line with these guys. It's no like they are not sluts on the ship too but this is even worse. It was a sight I wish their parents could see. I hung out on the ship for a while, packed, and went to bed. I had to be up early for the Mekong Delta Explorer.

4-27-99
Tues
It was so hard getting up in the morning. We stumbled downstairs, ate breakfast, and went to our trip meeting places. Andy was doing a Mekong day trip. Mike my RD was the trip leader so that was cool. I knew Mike, Dalia, and Dave fairly well, but not very many of the others. There were only about 3 or 4 frat boys and whores so it was looking to be a fairly nice trip. I slept most of the way to Cai Be where we would first be getting on the river. We stopped at this rest stop for a while. It was fairly sad, they had these monkeys in cages for people to look at. They seemed to be treated fairly well but I don't like to see anything like that anymore. Back to the bus, back to sleep. I did finish my boxed lunch before we got to Cai Be. Once again SAS people make me furious. This one girl didn't eat the chips from her boxed lunch. There were hoards of begging children. All the kids were trying to grab it. They were fighting each other to get it. Eventually the bag ripped open and the chips fell on the ground. This didn't stop the kids from eating them though. She looks so upset and says, "I was just trying to be nice." I wanted to break her neck, I was so disgusted I couldn't even look at her. It makes me clench my fists in rage thinking about it even now. To be stupid is one thing, there are tons of people like that, but to be so shocked at what is going to happen is what really gets me. It's Vietnam for gods sake, we have been on this trip for more than two months. If you are still clueless by now I don't think there is any hope. Someone should just shoot them and put them out of our misery. I was a little worried about the trip at this point. We were getting on boats that looked like the ones from the Amazon, I didn't like those boats. They turned out fine though. We passed all types of houses right on the river before we crossed. It's cool to see how these people depend on the river. Everything revolves around it, yet unlike India it is clean. I think a lot of it has to do with the population problems in India that the rivers are so filthy. Vietnam is a lot more agrarian and rural. It's strange who everything looks exactly the same as all the movies about Vietnam. Rice hats, row boats, little markets, rice patties, it's all there and yet it's not fake. We headed down one of the tributaries to where we were going to stay the night. We stopped at this island for a while and walked around. It was just jungle with houses scattered around. We passed one where a party was going on. The guide said they had killed a god and were drinking rice wine. I was excited, I wanted to eat dog big time. She said that it was only eaten on special occasions, that if I wanted it I would have to go very local. I was disappointed, I really want to eat dog. This is the only chance I'll ever have to eat it. If I pass it up, I'll always regret it. It started to rain before we got to the garden we were stopping at. Luckily for me I had been in the front with the guide so we got there first. Most of the people got soaked. I'm not quite sure why we stopped at this garden, but I bet the guides got commission on the money the place made form that the SASers got. They had four types of drinks there: snake wine, rice wine, fruit wine, and this other fruit stuff. I made sure to have the snake wine. They had a big jar of it sitting out. They cut up a snake, add alcohol, and Chinese herbs and let it sit for four months. It was strong and fairly gross but I couldn't pass it up. The guy opened the jar and pulled out the pieces of the snake for us to see. Yeah, that was fairly disgusting. The had these boa constrictors that they let us put around our necks. I couldn't believe how heavy even the small one was. We stayed here a while before people got the food they ordered. When we finally hit the river it wasn't that long of a trip until we got to where we were gong to stay. This was by far the coolest place I have stayed at. It was just a little cottage on stilts right on the river. It had two big rooms with about 10-12 beds in each. It totally reminded me of the shore. Once we laid our stuff out they said we could take canoes out on our own. Dave, Ray, some guy who's name I forget, and I took one out. Even though I didn't take the back we were able to keep fairly straight. We went up the river a way then turned into a smaller tributary. It was so cool, white people must never go down there. There was this one girl who was walking to the edge of the bank just looking at the ground. When she looked up her eyes opened wide as pie plates, her mouth dropped open, and she slowly turns, takes a few small steps and runs back to her house. We heard her shouting and everyone came out to watch us. We turned down another smaller channel and went up for a while. It was starting to get a little late and some of them wanted to start back. We sort of got hit as we were turning the boat around but no harm was done. These people were waving us to come in on the shore so I convinced them to stop and get off. No one spoke any English at first, but they took us to one of their main houses. There was this older man there who spoke English fairly well. It sounded like he hadn't tried to speak it for a long time but he got much better as time went on. We told him our names but he knew we wouldn't be able to pronounce his so he told us to call him "happy." We said where we were from, how long and what we were doing in Vietnam. They had bee hives there so one of the guys gets up, opens it up with his bare hands, takes out a honey comb, and brings it over for us to eat. I've never done anything like that before but that is the only way to eat honey. It was by far the bast I have ever tasted in my life. They were so proud at our reaction. Everyone is laughing, smiling, and having a great time. They brought us over more but we couldn't eat it all. This was without a doubt on my coolest thing list. I could have stayed there all day but they thought we should be getting back. We shook hands with the three oldest men from the village then started to make our way back to the boat. I had been so wrapped up in what was going on that I forgot to take any pictures. I'm still smacking myself. I wonder what they thought about us. What will they say to other people about what happened? I can't even imagine what I would think if four American twenty year olds came paddling up to my village. I hope they come away with as much as we did. We paddled off down the river as they all waved us good-bye. We tried to thank them in Vietnamese before we left. We couldn't really do it right buy they were just happy that we tried. Man I wish we could have stayed longer. Either way it was great. We were able to get back to the place a lot quicker once I got in the back. When we got back there was going to be a local music performance for us in a couple minutes. It was very cool. They had two singers and a guy who played this one stringed instrument that looked like a diddly bow, a two stringed thing called a moon guitar (or something like that, the guide only told us the translation of the name), and a regular guitar. They played a lullaby, a song about a new wife moving away from her family, and several love songs. It was all so cool. The music was ornamented like Indian music but had a very Asian sound. It took a while longer before we ate so Dalia and I talked for a while. Dinner was very good. We started out with spring rolls, then soup, and this fish from the Mekong. It was about 1 to 2 feet long, orangey color, and was very flaky. You pulled meat off of the side, put it in rice paper, added lettus, cucumber, and mint leaves, rolled it up and ate it. It didn't tasted too fishy so it was fine. We also had pork and bananas for dessert. It was all really good but some people had almost nothing. They were so finicky. I eat everything they give me. I figure I will probably never be back so I better try everything. If you don't you miss so much. We didn't stay up much longer. The locals put on some karioke but it didn't rally catch on. Some people went to a bar later on but I figured since we were getting up at 0600 I should go to bed. The bed was as hard as a rock but it didn't keep me from falling asleep. We also had mosquito netting around us and incense burning to keep away the bugs. They didn't seem to bother me.

4-28-99
Wed
Woke up a couple of times with roosters crowing and dogs barking, but overall it was nice. Breakfast was good, we had toast, mango, fried eggs, and coffee. The boat ride was cool. I didn't know they had to dredge the river but evidently they do. We stopped at another garden type thing like yesterday. It was owned by this guy Mr. Tiger. He looked like Ho Chi Minh. We ate mango, jackfruit, and drank rice wine. We didn't stay that long, in fact I'm not sure why we stopped there. Either way it was a fairly nice garden. It wasn't that long of a ride to the bus. Once we got on we all slept the way to Can Tho. We had a couple of hours of free time before lunch so we walked around the market. We went down the main road, there wasn't really anything we wanted. This was more of the "goods" section. We walked down the autoparts section. I didn't quite understand what the big deal was about this market. The other two people we were with split off so it was just Dalia and I. We walked down to the end then hit the "real" market. They had fresh fruit and vegetables in one part then it was on to the fresh meat section. Some of this meat was so fresh it was still alive. They had live ducks, chickens, and fish. It was unreal. Some had their feathers plucked and still had the heads on. Others were being chopped up right there. The whole thing was about the size of a supermarket but I wouldn't feel safe chopping there (even though that's where the places we ate got their stuff). We finally got out of there and headed down the road. We stopped in a couple of places and I actually got something (just a couple of vase type things). Then it started to rain. We had no idea where we were so we decided to get a rickshaw. He had no idea where to take us. We tried to tell him but he just could not understand. I finally remembered I had taken a business card from the hotel. When he read it he finally knew where to go and we went straight there. The ride was 6000 Dong do about 50 cents. After a while we walked to lunch, through the rain too. It was OK but soon it was back on the bus. We drove an hour and a half to the Khleng Pagoda. They had these huge bats hanging from the trees. They had to be the size of German Shepherds. It was straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The wing spans were huge! From there we went into one of the Pagodas. They had paintings of Buddha on the walls and a 15 ft gold Buddha in the center. People come here for a day to give thanks if they have had a good year. In the next Pagoda we met on of the Khmer monks that live there. He was only 30 but had already been there 15 years. We had tea and talked with him for a while. There was one who spoke better English but than the other guy but he had to go drive to do a service. Most people didn't really like this stop. We had to be on the bus for a long time so people were getting a little testy. We got back soon enough then it was on to dinner. I'd have to say I was not that impressed with the food. After we got done some of the people were using the floor like a "slip and slide." Part of the ceiling was open so it was slick on the floor. I was humiliated at first but it wasn't so bad. The waitresses were on the floor laughing. We just have looked so stupid. Anyway, I was happy to leave. We had ticket for some free drinks at the bar so that's where we went when we got back. We had some drinks and played some pool. Some people got "messages" too. They said it was total prostitution. They were grabbing you and trying to get you to pay them for sex. Overall they looked more tense coming out then they did going in. It was going to be an early start tomorrow so we went to bad at around 0100.

4-29-99
Thurs
Got up at 0600 for breakfast which consisted of bananas, mango, toast, and coffee. It was a short bus ride to the Cai Rang floating market. We got on those 15 person boats and headed up the river. The market was all these boats who came from upriver to see their produce. It was so interesting. Plus it was total capitalism in a country that claims to be communist. These boats selling drinks were all over us but that was fine. Some of the big boats must stay there all the time because they had power lines running to them. We went up another stream for a while. Everyone was washing clothes in the river and doing other morning things. People seem to live in harmony with the world. Things look like they have been happening the same way forever. And I don't see it really changing. We went back through the market one more time before heading back. The whole trip didn't last longer than 2 hours but it was really interesting. We had three hours to walk around the city. Jeremy and I went down some side streets into more "local" places. Everyone was staring at us, it was really funny. We stopped in this one place for a Coke and they had Backstreet Boys posters up everywhere. It was gross. We drew a little bit of a crowd to watch us. Towards the end we net these two guys who spoke a little English so we talked to them for a while. It was the usual age, length of stay, how do you like Vietnam stuff. I'm always surprised how many people try to talk to you no matter if they know much English or not. I don't think many people would do that back in the US. I'm not sure why not either. The time went quickly and soon we were heading back. It took us a while to get home on the bus because we had to take two ferries. It wasn't as bad going back because the beggars weren't so bad. What was bad was the bus driver honking the horn. He did it non stop, and in stupid places too. It really made the trip back annoying. We got back to the ship at around 1730. So I showered, shaved, and hit dinner. I met u with Jill and Heather so we were gong to head out. We took the shuttle into town and as soon as we got off we met this little boy who sold post cards named Tong. They had met him the other day so he walked with us. We picked up Heather's film and we all looked through it while Jill picked up some clothes she ordered. Tung is such a good salesman, everyone wanted to buy stuff from him. We walked around some more then went to take him out to eat. We stopped at this really nice place. I didn't want to go there but that's where Tong said so that's where we went. He got some rice and meat stuff and I got boiled eel. The eel was fairly good even though I wouldn't know what bad eel tasted like. Tong was so funny he cracked us all up. He had to go at 2100 to meet the next bus of sucker students. If this kid went to Hollywood he would be an instant hit. I didn't get any pictures again because I didn't want to bring my camera out at night. That's two great opportunities that I have missed. After we got the bill we walked over to this bar called Apocalypse Now. We didn't stay long and that was fine by me, everything was too much money for me. Now it was my time to be the leader. We went down dark streets and such and it was really cool. There were kids out playing soccer. We didn't have much time to walk around though. I didn't want to miss the last bus again so we got back on time. We got some popsickles and went to the bus place. We got on the last bus out and we even got seats. It was packed like sardines. I didn't stay up long after we got back. I talked to Jimmy and Andy for a while but was asleep by 0030. I wanted to get up tomorrow to got to the Cu Che Tunnels.

4-30-99
Fri
I scored a Cu Che/Cao Dai Temple ticket from this girl. I would have liked to have gone with a small group and rented a car and guide. It would have been better but I didn't want to waste the time getting something like that together. Getting people to go and getting a driver would have taken a while plus it would have cost extra money. So I grabbed a ticket and was able to head out at 0800. When I finally got out there I found out that my ticket was for yesterday. That wasn't a problem though, there were plenty of extra seats. All I had to do is sign the persons name on the ticket and I wouldn't get charged. Pat and I did the same thing. I was Joanna Rose for this trip. The guide we had was one of the best parts of the trip. But before he got real goofy we made a couple of stops. The first was a rice paper makers house. That was fairly interesting. One person can make 10,000 sheets in a day. They use this press like thing to heat it up than it gets rolled off and put out to dry. We walked around the rest of the property for a while. They had this huge pig and a waterbuffalo. We didn't stay all that long. Next stop was a this road-side place to use the bathroom. There was something I never expected. If you remember that picture of the naked girl covered in napalm running down the street screaming, there is a boy running next to her. That boy, now grow up, owns the stop. He looked so prout to show us the picture and article on him. We all took pictures with him, he was so happy. It was a really cool thing. Now we got back on the bus and the guide, his name was Dung, started to go weird. Before we stopped he kept talking about Vietnamese resistance and American follies in the Vietnam War. That wasn't strange, I expected it even. You knew he had been hand picked by the government for this job. But he was discribing Cao Daism before we got to the temple and ends by saying, "Overall, it is a very stupid religion." Our mouths dropped open, we couldn't believe he would say that. I guess when you look at it from a communist point of view it makes a little more sense. They are against religion to begin with. The was he tried to explain it is that it was a cult like in Waco. The only thing is that it has nearly 6 million followers so how much of a cult is it. I think he was hostile to the Cao Dais Because they had an army that fought against the Americans and the Communists. He also added when we got there, "You will see many temples and hear many boring songs." I have to say it was a stupid religion and the songs weren't too exciting but you wouldn't expect that from a guide. The actual temple was really strange. It combined Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism into one religion. It had this huge globe with this left eye in the center. Everything was decorated in gold. The service started at 1200. Everyone came in and orderly sat on the floor. Music was played as the people chanted and prayed. I couldn't help buy think, "Man do these people realize how retarded this is?" It totally reminded me of a cult that has become mainstream. Very bizarre. We got back on the bus at 1225 and headed for lunch. Our guide made the remark that we would get back early if people would show up on time. The lunch was the worst I've had so far. The only reason I didn't go off on my own was that I only have 500 Dong, which is about 1 cents. The bus ride to the tunnels was uneventful. Inside we saw a 15-20 minute video. It was done in 1967 so it was total propaganda. It started out with something like (I can't remember the exact words), "Cu Che was a peaceful land with peaceful people. Then like a bunch of crazed devils the Americans from Washington DC started to bomb. They bombed buildings, houses, farms... they even bombed schools." It went on to talk about people who had won "the American Killer Award" and the brilliance of the Vietnamese fighters. It was a crazy movie. We moved on to the actual tunnels. They showed us one of the trap doors. It had been widened for, as Dung put it, the big fat Americans. They had steps down to the first level of tunnels. There was a hospital, meeting room, and tunnels linking them. I'm not sure if I would have made it if they had not been widened. When we came out some of us could go to the second and third levels of tunnels. So fifteen of us headed to those. Now, this is one thing I learned: It's good to have a flashlight when going down there. I was the second one behind the guide and I was getting burned. The guy shot through like he was running. The girl behind him kept up fairly well but kept whacking her head on the ceiling. They never got too far ahead of me buy when they turned a corner I couldn't see anything. There were also bats flying around but that didn't bother me. By the time we had been down there for about ten minutes it started to get really hot. We had sweat pouring off of us. Even I was hoping the end came soon. Finally we came into another main chamber. We came out dirty, drenched in sweat, and panting like we just ran five miles. I'm not sure how anyone could put up with that for long, I think I would lose my mind. After we rinsed off we looked at some booby traps used by the Viet Cong. They were nasty pits with bamboo rods and metal spikes in them. Dung seemed fairly proud of their effectiveness. Last we got to some bombs. I only mention this because of Dung's quote, "This is a B52 bomb, the same kind the Americans are dropping on Kosovo right now." That was his last anti-American quote of the day. Some wanted to go back, especially the senior passenger who just wouldn't stop complaining. Enough people wanted to shoot guns that we took a half hour to do that and look at the War Monument. I shot five rounds from a AK47 but most other people went for the M16. I hit the target twice so I figure that was fairly good. There was next to no recoil on it at all. I also didn't get any ear protection so they were ringing when I was done. You'd go deaf if you did that long enough. I'm just glad I have never had to do anything like that, and I hope I never will. Pat and I were walking to the War Monument when a group of young Vietnamese came walking by and said, "Stupid Americans, Vietnam number one." I suppose that is to be expected figuring where we were and that today was the 24th anniversary of the day the North defeated the South. Most other people seemed more open to us. These tow women at the War Memorial tried to talk with us. We told them our names and got theirs. I think they understood that we were students. The one girl who knew a little English said that she was a farmer but we couldn't find out what she farmed. She did have a Titanic shirt on though, so she knew a little about the US. The two buildings were closed so we just walked around. It was time to leave so we got back on the bus. Dung said, "Say good-bye to Cu Che forever." I whispered to Pat, "Yeah, because he is going to kill us." It was a quiet ride back to Ho Che Minh City. Pat, myself, and some others got dropped off in the center of town for our last couple of hours. It was about 1900 and we had until 2200. We headed down some back alleys looking for a good, dirty place to eat. Finally we found one that was very crowded. It turned out to be fairly expensive but it was good. Pat got some chicken thing and I got shrimp, we shared a bowl of soup. It was good and the atmosphere was also good so the price wasn't really a problem. After we finished we were walking out and met a Vietnamese couple. They asked us if the food was any good. We said yes, but a little expensive. The went in anyway. I just was amused that we were giving tips on where to eat to people from Vietnam. We bought some fruit from a vendor in the market. It was a red thing shaped like a pear. It wasn't too sweet but it was really good. Another funny thing that happened was when we stopped in the grocery store. The people follow you around in the store. Well, they had some stuff with Mr. Peanut on it. Pat just happened to have a Mr. Peanut doll in his bag that he used for pictures to his vicarious voyage kids. They were so shocked when he took it out that they took it and showed it to everyone in the store. It was neat. When we got back into the city we walked around this mall type thing for a while. Pat wanted to backpack. I ended up getting a hammock for 4 dollars. After a while we made our way back to the busses. I also got a rice hat from a store on the way. When we finally got back on the bus guess who what there, Tong the kid from the other night. They had snuck him on and he was selling his postcards on the bus. I swear this kid made a killing on SAS kids. This time I got a picture of him. Once back on the ship we just hung out for a while. I looked at Shabby's pictures for a while, then went to bed. I was tired and had to get up at 0700 the next day anyway for class. I'm not quite sure if Vietnam was my favorite port but it was close. I had a great time.

5-1-99
Sat
God classes suck. I hate going back after port, it bites. Did the usual catching up on sleep thing. The open mic was retarded, no one had anything interesting to say. I did talk to some guy who was a veteran after it. He was very accepting, I liked him. I also tried to talk to the Ginsburgs' but that didn't work. This dumb frat whore was dominating the conversation. I walked around and talked for a while. Overall, I did fairly little.

5-2-99
Sun
I surprised myself today. I actually worked on my vicarious voyage crap. Jenny and I sat in the room and started the stuff. Then the pre-port started... What a waste of time. Now the pre-ports are usually worthless but this one was the worst to date. All they talked about was shopping in Hong Kong, nothing else. Shopping!!! What a waste of time. Then with about 30 seconds left someone finally asks an intelligent question, "How has Hong Kong adjusted to being a part of China?" Only the most important event in modern Hong Kong history and it gets 30 seconds. Sickening, utterly sickening. Typed up the vicarious voyage crap so I'll just proofread it tomorrow and it will be ready to go. I also picked up the one girls packet from our group. It sucks, she did food and all she did was send a couple of pictures, a McDonald's menu, and three bags of chips. I'm golden, mine is much better than her crap. It will be so great to get that garbage out of the way. It has been such a pain. It's a bunch of crap.

5-3-99
Mon
Pre-port was again a waste. I tuned the whole thing out. I'm going around with Ryan's parents so I'm not worried about what I'm going to do. All I know is that I want to up early tomorrow to see us come into Hong Kong. I've heard it's not to be missed. Watched "The Usual Suspects" tonight. It was fairly interesting. Tried to catch up on the journal a bit before getting to the next port.