Besides being the title of my favorite Wilco album, it’s also what I’m trying very hard to do, right now, without falling asleep again.

A view from my window – look at those
bangin’ plants on the porch over there!

It’s 7am here in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. After 31 hours of flights and layovers in exotic places (or at least their exotic airport terminals), I arrived here last night about 5pm. There was a bit of a delay at the passport check (as I suspected there might be) because of my new passport – the number on the loose-leaf visa and my new booklet didn’t match up. Which was ok – it only cost me $45 to get a new one on the spot, and – BONUS! – it’s a stamp in my booklet, so I won’t worry about losing the loose visa.

(Oh yes – I did have one very close call in the Istanbul airport. The iPhone 3GS my friend Jeff gave me, and which went into a river with me in April on a hiking trip, started freaking out and eventually shut off, not to turn back on. But then I got to my hotel and plugged it in, and it worked, mostly, only freaking out a few more times but not permanently shutting off. I might have to get a new phone, not sure about that quite yet. I’m eyeing it with distrust.)

Our family friend Oanh (thanks Aunt (Minh?) Chau!!) met me at the airport and got me safely to a hotel run by har family’s friends (originally I was told I’d be staying with her family, but this is way better. They still cook and do laundry for a fee). She helped me with money and communicated with the proprietor for me. No one has spoken any significant amount of English yet – job security, I guess! It was a fun ride – this city has a crazy energy that I like a lot, so far.

The hazy structure with the green in the center is part of a
 pagoda with a lotus blossom on top of it.

I’m going to go with the (traffic) flow here and start out by saying, HOLY CRAP, THESE BLEEPING MOTORBIKES!! I know it’s standard to point out the insane traffic here, but you can’t help it – it’s basically a free-for-all, and it’s mesmerizing. I haven’t tried to walk or drive in it, yet. That should prove interesting, if not downright dangerous. I did see a couple dudes on regular bikes, so maybe I’ll go that route at first. I am known to like regular bikes, and I brought my helmet and locks.

I’m completely happy with my hotel room – shower, toilet, fridge, tv, air conditioning, window, ceiling fan, and wifi, all for the insane price of 250,000 dong/night (about $12-13 USD). It’s a great place in District 8 (I think) that I would never have found on my own. I hope I won’t be here longer than two weeks, though, I’m looking forward to dropping my baggage for a while, getting some plants, and cooking in my underwear. 🙂

At first I was like, where’s the shower?
…Oohhhhhh.

Time to get up and shower, find some food, and keep plugging away at those job boards. They aren’t applying for themselves… and the faster I secure one, the faster I get to find a permanent home. It’s a pretty good incentive.

And yes, you weren’t wondering, but another Wilco album does tell the story of the weather this morning – it’s Sky Blue Sky. For now – the forecast is for a high of 92 and 60% rain all day… and for the foreseeable future. And on goes the air conditioning.

The best half of my hotel room.

Welcome to Vietnam, me!

Peace,
Ben

P.S. I’m going to murder each one of the fucking roosters under my window, I swear to god. Chickens, sheesh. Reason enough to continue eating them. I hope they go extinct.