One of several escalator tanks of fish in the mall.

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than by telling you about my foray to the “Western” Mall? It’s the First World in Vietnam! Which is pretty damning, when you consider that it’s the place that I think is most like America that I’ve been to yet, and yeeesh… malls.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s a very nice mall (Crescent Mall, D7). It’s expensive, and it’s got a movie theatre, which I haven’t tried yet. It’s attached to a great lake (man-made, of course) and features a spectacular bridge across the river to the beautiful park on the opposite side.
The patio
There are two cafes – a Gloria Jeans (eeessshhh no thank you) and a Coffee Bean. Both overlook and have patios on a plaza with a fountain – there are security guards in the ubiquitous olive green of the military stationed at every door, and this particular man mainly has to tell parents to get their young children out of the water… poor guy. It seemed like a futile job, it’s like kids are drawn to fountains. The teacher friend I’m meeting lives nearby and has suggested the Coffee Bean for a mid-afternoon work break, and maybe lunch after. She brings her DOG!!! His name is Henry, and he looooooves coffee. It’s crazy! He’s a funny, wiry little dog. It reminds me of getting to cuddle with Wobbly Bob, which leaves me momentarily bummed. Not for long, however: the coffee, friend, and cool breeze off the lake clear that away quickly and a pleasant afternoon on the patio commences.
My first (and last) hot coffee.
After getting some stuff done (including my initial apartment search) we pack it up and go to lunch at a nicer Vietnamese restaurant on the promenade. We side at two tables side by side, again on the patio, overlooking the water, and only got our picture taken twice. My friend calls sitting like this “the French way” and I kind of love it. Allows for a full range of people viewing and takes the pressure off conversation!
I got frog in onions and lemongrass, which was quite good but left me basically eating by hand – those frog bones are TINY, yo! Chopsticks was simply asking too much. We got a mushroom dish to share but it had some kind of sausage in it (on the vegetarian menu, no less) so I got to take that home as well (she’s a vegetarian). She got the crispy tofu triangles, which were amazing.
The Promenade
Splitting up after we walked back along the promenade to the mall, I tried to find a place to replace my watch battery (and failed). Only one watch place, and they told me to come back Thursday (which I did, and then they told me to come back Saturday, at which point I said, nuh uh no way, fool me once and all). 
It’s also got a Giant in the basement (which is kind of like a grocery store mashed up with a K-mart) and, notably, a place I can go to get just about any kind of general use item for pretty cheap. In fact, on my return journey here on Thursday, I found exactly the one battery kiosk in the store that had one single kind of watch battery – and it was the one I needed! I spent another 10 minutes with a pocket knife and the watch at home and was able to successfully change it myself. My grandpa’s timex is back in action!

Fancy dining!
Leaving the mall felt familiar. I’ve left hundreds of malls. And while there are a few things here that I might be drawn back to, I’m probably not going to spend much time here. With it being both so far away and expensive, it’s not really worth the cab ride. 
Happy Fourth of July, America!! I’ll be sure to eat something barbecued tonight!!