If there was any doubt in my mind that we live in an interconnected global society, today would have expelled it. I woke up at 6am and turned on KPLU-FM, my local NPR station at home in Seattle. Here, it is streamed live and I get it via the website. At 6am here it is 4pm in Seattle, so I get All Things Considered in the morning and Morning Edition at night. Upside down but I’m a day ahead of Seattle time wise.
At 8 o’clock I walked to my favorite neighborhood bakery, Tous Les Jours. They make great baguettes and croissants. It’s hard to tell you’re not in France as you tear the croissant apart and the buttery flakes stick to your fingers. But, it’s not France. There are many things French in Saigon. After all, the French were here for 100+ years. But the kicker is that Tous Les Jours is owned by Koreans and many of the staff are Korean-Vietnamese. I got my croissant and a very good latte and went upstairs to a pleasant open space where the other patrons were enjoying their pastries and working on their laptops. Most places in Saigon have free wi-fi, so every place is a work place.
When I finished breakfast I walked downtown and bought an International Herald Tribune from a street vendor. Last week I bought the IHT in a bookstore, but I discovered that the street vendor outside the bookstore will sell it for half of what I paid inside. Of course, you have to negotiate, but I’m learning how to do that and it’s all done with a smile.
I took the Trib over to the Rex Hotel fitness club and sat by the pool for an hour. The club could be anywhere in the world. It has the most up to date machines, wall mounted plasma TV’s tuned to CNN, and lots of mirrors. The pool is outside on the roof and ringed with cushy chaise lounges. If you want lunch or a drink there are several staff members to help you.
After the workout I walked across the street to a French day spa and had a sports massage and then walked home. I worked for couple of hours in the afternoon and then called Marilynn on Skype. Who could ever have imagined calling continent to continent 20 years ago on a hand held phone for no charge? It’s Dick Tracy’s wrist-radio on steroids.
Dinner was at The Sushi Bar, a very traditional and jumpin’ place on Le Thanh Ton Street where I had an Asahi beer and fresh yellowtail sashimi flown in from Japan. I finished the day by stopping by M52, a bar where two Scots were playing darts, the Acoustic Bar in District 3, where Blue Man Group was hammering away on their drums on a wall sized video screen, and Serenata, a delightful garden café next door where three young chamber players alternately entertained with Vietnamese, American, and French singers.
If you want to twist your mind, just remember that this is a communist country. Weren’t we locked in a deadly battle with them for control of the planet? Going global has gone viral. We’re all in the soup together.