Still in Saigon

We had a wonderful shabbat in Saigon. Our food was supplied by Chabad. We ate Friday night dinner in a stunning private room in the Rex Hotel where we are staying. This morning, we joined Chabad for services. In the afternoon, some of our people took walks through the city. Others of us got some much-needed rest after days of early mornings and full activity schedules. We returned to Chabad for our third meal later in the afternoon.

This city is super-alive One can’t help but be awed by the sheer number of motorbikes and by the astounding way in which they flow and blend with each other. Crossing the street is always an adventure. One cannot wait for the traffic to stop because it never does. You step into the street when there is a break in traffic and keep walking at a slow, steady pace. The drivers calculate your walking speed and cut either in front of you or behind you. Of course, sometimes they miss, but for the most part they are very accurate.

We are really entertained by the fact that Saigon is decked out for Xmas! Not only is it in the 80s (Fahrenheit; high 20s to 30s Celsius), but this a country that is about 60% Buddhist. There are also Taoists, and Cao Daists with Christians a small minority… but, when asked, our guide explained that Vietnamese love all of the excitement and color that comes with Xmas. Stores all over the city are selling Santa outfits for adults and for little boys and girls. The mall nearby has a sleigh set up and people are taking pictures of their small children dressed in Xmas costumes and sitting in the sleigh. Our hotel must have about 10 Xmas trees. In the new lobby in the just-renovated part of the hotel, there is a whole display complete with sleigh and reindeer.

We have enjoyed interacting with the local Vietnamese people. They are friendly and accommodating. Even the salespeople are friendly and and grateful for our business without being pushy.

And best of all… tonight I found exactly what I was looking for as a gift for my husband. Shhh. It’s a secret.

Tomorrow, off to Cambodia.

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  1. Oh no. You got him a Santa Claus suit?!

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