The photo up top is from earlier in the trip. The laundry wasn't all that cheap, but I will vouch for clean, nice, and fragrant.
Anyway, we're home. The grass is always greener and all that. The last few days in Vietnam, I pined for home -- for the garden, the puffy blue sofa where we watch TV (pitiful), my kids (so very much), turkey sandwiches with lettuce. Now that I have most of it back (minus the kids, who are still with their intrepid New England grandparents), I miss Saigon. Everywhere we went in Vietnam had charm, but Saigon is special. You should watch this video if just for 30 seconds, because it's a very fine representation of that wack city. Early on, my father and I threw ourselves into the traffic, walking many blocks during the day, at night, in the blistering heat, in the rain, after a few drinks, stone sober, always scared out of our minds. The last day, we took taxis. It seemed too sad to die right before we were going to get to go home.
But the people who handle that traffic with nonchalance and elan, they're awe-inspiring. The way a Saigon native saunters into an onrushing horde of motors scooters while talking on a cell phone, wearing stylish shoes, and carrying a small child has to be one of the coolest sights in the world.
As for the suburban garden I longed to return to: what a bummer. Still no ripe tomatoes and something has been eating my pumpkins, scooping out all the flesh and turning them into little tureens. Rats? The big fat chickens? If I had a camera, I'd take a picture. No eggplants, not a one. No melons. Snails have shredded the chard leaves into lace. A lot of squash, and that's thrilling. Just thrilling. I sat around in Vietnam pining for a garden full of zucchini.
It's still great to be home.