Silk, sewer, power outages and other Vietnam amusements

I think there is a special travelers high that can make even frequent power outages have a special excitement. For example, the fact that urshower drain belches a nasty sewer smell every few minutes.
And then there are the power outages. Several times a day we lose power in our hotel for 15 minutes or so. The hotel staff come
around to all the rooms with lanterns and put candles on the stairs. We all cluster around amused at such rarely experiences inconveniences, but our vice provost managed ot get caught TWICE in one day in the elevator during the outage, and after a crowbar pry out, seemed non the worse for wear. but what are the chances?

Speaking of prying, that is what the bus driver was doing this afternoon to the luggage door after the latch failed with all of the PBS camera crew recording equipment trapped inside!

And speaking of camera crew, it has been very interesting being followed around by cameras and sometimes also an enormous mike. The four person crew has been filming everything from our boarding our flights to shopping in the silk markets. I felt like a movie star twirling around in crimson silk pants with the camera rolling. Stephanie is the only woman in the crew and a darling of a person. She was the perfect person to document the first frenzy of girlish delight at the piles of vibrant silk garments. Sometimes I wish they were not there. Yesterday, for example, the humidity was so bad that my earrings were sticking to my face. Between that, the sweat and the dark circles, I am sure I looked fabulous

Returning from my concert yesterday in my french bustle style gown and silk sparkling top, I had to step over the garbage, dodge the motorbikes and peddlers in front of a host of local admirers who stopped from their work to stare. It was hard not to feel like royalty next to the banana lady aand the grime on the street.

But speaking of grime, or at least grease, did I mention that forehaed grease is one of the main reasons I sounded good yesterday? I will explain. The humidity has been upwards of 95%. My cello has reacted by becoming sticky all over the fingerboard. At our dress reherasal I literally had to use double the effort to shift and manuveur over the two feet of space. This was quite disconcerting. It felt as if someone had put glue under my fingers. Needless to say, my accruacy was off because all the many tiny calculations of distance, speed and pressure that one makes in facilitating shifting and runs was completely off. Not to mention that it was just plain hard to get my fingers to slide at all. Well, thanks to my wonderful roommate, Suzanne, a Bass player, I learned the trick to getting some finger lubrication in a pinch. Rub your forehead becaus eit tends to be a greasy spot. Well, there I was rubbing my fingers over my forehaed during the Tutti parts. It really worked, and I moved around the cello like a well oiled finger machine.

Today the silk markets called out to me, and I admired silk dresses and shirts and scarfs in plum, salmon, gold, burgandy, emerald and you name it! Embroidered, patterned, buttoned and striped, silk for sleeping, dancing and praying. It took tremendous self control not to blow my entire small budget on pretty things to drape over my body.

One thought on “Silk, sewer, power outages and other Vietnam amusements

  1. Mama

    I just discovered your blog – silly me! Thanks to Wes. It’s really great to be able to read about your adventures and feel proud, happy for you, and envious all at once! I am living in remodeling chaos, breathing toxic fumes 24/7 and having daily crisis. I love you.


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