first asia post: alive and three-breakfasted

hello all

for those who don't know, i turned in my book friday and then zipped off for 6 weeks in asia. first stop: saigon.

survived the what turned out to be a 41-hour door-to-door trip, clearly losing all my proletarian warrior cred by extending my business-class flight beds and cognac-ing and sleeping my way through much of it. utterly painless, except rereading Great Gatsby which is decidedly overrated, and some vile short stories by DH Lawrence and Italo Calvino, the latter of which also makes the all-overrated list.

also opted for the extra $3/night single room w/ shower vs. dorm and inflicting my apnia snore-croaks on everyone. self-interest once again masquerading as altruism.

woke at 6:30 this morning feeling great. went out and to the central market. i understand bro why you couldn't cross the street until the old lady took your arm (and led him straight into the traffic for those of you who don't know this story. i love the image of the 90yr-old woman who comes up to the viking's shoulder, just takes him by the elbow, clearly realizing what's going on, and saves the day).

i'm off to an incredible start on the food front.

had the best iced coffee of my life to start things off. then a kind of roast pork banh mi sandwich from the old woman in this photo , then a banh mi sandwich -- fletch anyone? -- shredded meat this time, and, like the first one, a bit lackluster and dinky. i have to say, i'm spoiled. neither was bad, the problem is just that they couldn't compare to the sublime #1 on broome st in NY. this was my bro's experience too; he ate 2 banh mis a day for 10 days in vietnam and never found one better than outside my apartment door at home.

but then i found this insane plate of radically unidentifiable things (while being roundly pointed to and laughed at) in the central market . various kinds of firm jelly noodles lozenges, some with shrimp inside, covered with cilantro, a cooked chive hash, an orange powder, chilis, fish sauce, etc. -- incredible. ron, you needed to be here. make sure to click on the pics if you really want to see; they're hi-res, so there's lots of detail.

so, 3 bkfasts and 2 iced coffees in, i'm back in my room, intending to go back to this, the central market,
to eat again soon. they must not get much honkie traffic because everyone seems very amused at my presence and culinary choices. near my hotel however one hears german. must flee.

oh, and they also seem to find my now 12 words of vietnamese rather comical. bro, haven't been able to use "tit vit" yet. hopefully soon. it seems the language problems cut both ways though, as i saw a young woman wearing a t'shirt that said "Take" across her bosom.

already filling my journal with excellent oddities. too many to list. my favorite, perhaps, an old man whose toenails i noticed seemed most of the way to becoming black/gray ash.

on that note, off to lunch. it seems that American and "noodle" are homonyms in vietnamese. that's all the hint i need...

love to all, j