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Running away from Home

Retirement in Thailand, afterlife in Hue, Vietnam

VIETNAM | Friday, 16 April 2010 | Views [518]

I beat the tourist crowds to the Purple Forbidden City in the Citadel today. I didn’t know that Vietnam had a Forbidden City. I thought that was distinctly Chinese, but, then again, Vietnam had a rough time not being assimilated by the Chinese. The writing on the buildings and gates are in Chinese characters and this interested me when I first saw it. Did the Chinese force the Vietnamese to speak and write their language? The tour guide yesterday told me that the Vietnamese borrowed the characters but the language was still theirs. Today they use roman alphabet to write. There was me and a group of old Vietnamese women paying their respects to the royalty of old Vietnam. I got there so early the souvenir vendors hadn’t even had time to set up their stands. The imperial complex is in the process of being restored, but even the restored buildings don’t have the magnificence of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The halls and chambers decked out in golds and reds with a background of teak was impressive, but it had a impersonal, two-dimensional feel to it. However, the royal theater made my jaw drop. They have restored and modernized it so that traditional Vietnamese productions can be shown. The combination of the old theater set up and the new modern stage lights give the place a pulse. I imagine if one was to feel the presence of a spirit, it would be in this place. In fact when I die, I think that I will come back and haunt this theater. I know how superstitious Asians are and I like the idea of coming back and spooking a few of them. Anyway, while I am still among the living, I will definitely have to catch a performance. A performance at the Royal Theater and a trip to the Demilitarized Zone. Sounds like a fun vacation.

I checked out of my hotel room by 12:00pm, and I wanted to spend the afternoon writing and posting on the internet. That is easier said than done. I went out to find a café where I could get a coffee and log on. I found one small place where their primary business seemed to be baked goods and coffee instead of tours. Just as I sat down and ordered they started blaring French music at volumes that are reserved for rock concerts. The waitress told me that they had a bad speaker and one of the staff members was trying to fix it. I gathered my things and made for the door. She stopped me and went to turn off the music, so I sat back down. The fellow who had been working on the speakers responded by sitting at the table opposite mine and glaring at me until I asked for the check. At least they had a to-go cup for me. This situation left me in such a state of agitation and I hadn’t even had a sip of coffee yet. I checked out the menu at an Indian restaurant, but before I got through two pages a waitress came over and asked me where I was going today. Everyone is in the tour business here!

I went back to the hotel and they allowed me to use the internet access even though I had checked out. They also watched my bag for me as I came and went and allowed me to use the bathroom. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have to wait six or seven hours for an overnight bus and you don’t have anywhere to go…..Anyway, I will definitely go back to *Hotel Binh Duong I (as opposed to III or IV) even if I have a stack of cash to spend.



* Room 508



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