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Sleepless in Saigon

We are back in Saigon with a 3:30 AM wakeup for a 6:00 AM flight.


A little more about last night's "backpacker hotel." It was about $20 for the night with a room the size of a large walk-in closet. When we went to turn in, we discovered there was only one sheet on the bed, the bottom one. With no phone in the room, I had to get dressed and go down three floors to the front desk (no elevator). About 20 minutes later, they brought up another sheet.


The fan and air conditioner worked just fine. When you're asleep, it doesn't matter where you are. The bathroom was also the shower, all in one space. The shower had hot water but the lavatory didn't. No biggie.


The sign next to the door read, "Checkout time is 11:30. If you would like to extend your stay. let us know before. Otherwise we have to apologize if we rent your room to others."


The sign also advised, "No Smoking, " No Drugs" and "Please take off your shoes while you're in bed." Obviously a clean establishment.


And this was the most expensive room in the hotel!


I used to stay in these places back in the day, but I think I've moved on.


We had breakfast, walked around a while and caught a taxi to the airport, driven by an aspiring race car driver who hit 140 km/hr on the straightaways.


We had a great final dinner near the Continental where we stayed before, and we are off to bed.


Asia at a glance - In a few words, here is my list that sums up Southeast Asia, not in any particular order:


1. Three girls on a Honda, one driving, the second putting on lipstick and the third on a cell phone.

2. Everyone has a cell phone, but I never saw anyone wearing one of those goofy looking bluetooth things stuck in their ear.

2. Motorcycle cops riding tandem. RPD should try this to save gas.

3. World's largest billboards in Bangkok - maybe over an acre. Think what we could rent that for on the Parkway.

4. Summer abroad for international student set.

5. Rice, noodles, pork, chicken, beef, fish and vegetables, preferably fried or barbequed.

6. Cheap beer.

7. Cheap everything.

8. Friendly, helpful and polite people.

9. Young.

10. Hot, humid, cool, rainy and agreeable.

11. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

12. Entrepreneurial.

13. Optimistic.

14. Tourists from everywhere but U.S.

15. Motorcycles (Vietnam is the only country with a helmet law).

16. No sirens, no guns, no visible crime.

17. Can't have too many Buddhas.

18. Money: Dollars and Dong in Vietnam, Dollars in Cambodia and Baht in Thailand.

19. Family Planning: A Honda can only carry mom, dad and two children.


My new i-phone served me well, except for a couple of days in Cambodia it couldn't find a carrier. Asia skipped land line infrastructure and went straight to cell phones. I was never out of range of a tower. I even saw the mahout driving our elephant with a cell phone to his ear 60 miles north of Chiang Mai in Cambodia.


That's it folks. See you back in Richmond.