Wednesday, February 29, 2012

That Side and This

The Corn Tiger and the Dear Daughter helped me with the packing at home, which went on until midnight in spite of my 5:30 am wake up call the next morning.

Ah, well, it included treasured moments such as CT "packing" himself into my suitcase and practicing jumping out, as he intended to do when he surprised me in Saigon. Sooo hard to resist! But his Mama insisted on keeping him home.

My dear friend C valiantly volunteered to pick me up and deposit me at the SoCo airport so I could catch the 6:45 am, an hour which is normally very late at night for me, shuttle to San Francisco Airport. The light was beautifully stark as we crossed the Golden Gate.

Getting to the plane and into the air went very smoothly. (SF International is one of my favorite terminals for just that reason.) The flight was lo-ong, of course, but it took 10 instead of the 14 hours on a very dry Northwest Airlines flight that I remember being pretty excruciating in 1989. We stopped over at Narita Airport in Japan, the same path I took with my video partner on that first trip. I am sure Narita has improved in the ensuing 23 years, at any rate, it, too, was easy to navigate, even in my jet-lagged state, and I whiled away the layover time getting a preview of the current Japanese culture -- interesting, even funny, snacks, respectful snack bar servers!, young Tokyo hipsters getting ready for their flight to Los Angeles ...

Then on to the next All Nippon Airways flight for the 6 hours to Vietnam. I sat next to a Vietnamese/American who immigrated to the US when he was six years-old. He lives with his family in Houston, Texas, and works for his father in the family-owned machine shop. He was traveling back to Vietnam to visit his grandmother here. One of the kinder and more helpful seat mates that I've had for awhile.

During landing on this flight, they displayed the feed from an "airplane nose cam", so we saw pictures of the touch down and the taxi to the terminal from that angle, a first for me and I do travel a bit, as you know. The new international terminal at Tan Son Nhat is right up to modern standards -- more windows open to check passports than at CDG in Paris or Kennedy in NY, the baggage came in more quickly and painlessly than it does at many airports in the world, much better than London Heathrow, that's for sure, where it is not unusual for your bag to just not show up. My brother and his lady friend were waiting for me at the exit and whisked me into the busy, warm and humid night life of Saigon.

So, I've made it to the other side of this pond.
More dispatches as the journey continues.
Hugs from Ho Chi Minh City for now.

PS-Check the N2 & LC Dailies link in the upper right corner of this blog page for more pictures.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Return to Tan Son Nhat

This is about what the Tan Son Nhat airport looked like when I landed in Vietnam in 1989.

And this is what it looks like today, according to the search I did today for images.

I'll be there next Wednesday, so I will be able to report first hand. Yes, there will be pictures.

I'm going to do research for my first novel, which is nearing completion, i.e. second full draft done and editing in process. The novel is set in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bangkok and Vietnam in 1989 and is based on a trip I took there in '89 with a group of American vets who went back to Vietnam to build a clinic with the Vietnamese in Vung Tau, a town on the south coast.

I already know that Vietnam has undergone and is undergoing a sea change from the research I did while writing the novel these last two years. (Google street view can be a very useful scene research tool!) It's the smells, sounds, tastes and first hand sights that I'm after on this trip. And a sense of completion. I don't think I'll feel ready to put this book out into the world until I have been back.

I know that they are doing much better economically, but I suspect that I will be missing the old Vietnam and the simpler life that I found there when I first saw it. I have been inhabiting that world for a good part of the last two years and it has become so real for me again.

Back to revising these last twenty pages.
Bisous for now.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...