Thanksgiving... another in a long list of holidays that just doesn't exist in Vietnam.
However - It DOES exist in American-owned Christian restaurants! Which is why we spent our Thanksgiving lunch (we were afraid dinner would be too crowded) at the "Bread of Life". It was amazing. Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and even apple pie. Soooooo goooooood. [But the pumpkin pie wasn't spiced nearly enough] If I closed my eyes, it felt like America. Except... in America we probably would have been at some wanna-be Thanksgiving buffet with my parents [and I wouldn't be eating turkey]. Ha ha ha.
Most of our friends enjoyed some of the food, but since we are the only Americans we hang out with, THEY didn't know what Thanksgiving was either. Except what they had seen in movies of course (because all good cinema belongs to America). It was weird though - they totally didn't like "putting fruit on their meat" (cranberry sauce), and nobody was fond of stuffing... more for me! [Xavier said "My weird American friends..." again! Ha!]
The following day we flew to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoyed another late Thanksgiving dinner with the LDS branch (mostly Ex Pats) there. It was awesome! We met some super cool people, and the food was, again, amazing. Actually, I'm sure that in America it would have just been "decent" food, but... since we've been eating almost strictly Vietnamese for the last 5 months - it was a fresh breath of air indeed. [They even had crescent rolls - CRESCENT ROLLS people!]
The rest of our trip to Ho Chi Minh City was also pretty great. Despite the slightly moldy hotel, a bathtub that didn't drain, and prostitutes on the street, it was really nice! Risa was pumped because they had a nice "natural foods" store [they had Bobs Red Mill and gluten-free stuff! awesome! though one pound of flax cost around $30 US] - something we haven't seen since leaving home. We also bought a metric ton of clothes. It was super nice to get some threads that dry quickly and aren't sweltering hot (like all of our clothes in America apparently are). And of course - a trip to Ho Chi Minh wouldn't be complete without wasting a bunch of money at the central market... Which we did. [did not, maybe only $40... on gifts for friends]
While in Ho Chi Minh, we also went to church. CHURCH!!! Can you believe it!? It felt so... surreal... we've been holding church in our front room for so long - it was awesome to have other people give the talks and lessons. It makes a big difference to have other members around. It was really really nice. Most of it was in Vietnamese, but they had a translator, and WE were the ones wearing the headsets during church for once. [And I interject to mention that it felt SO nice at church that Michael even fell asleep during Sacrament meeting - just like home :) ]
I should also mention that Ho Chi Minh has amazing food. Not only do they have all the amazing Vietnamese food you can find in Da Nang [albeit at higher prices], but they also have a huge variety of other stuff too! We ate Japanese, and Indian, and French, and American, AND Vietnamese while we were there. Awesome. Though, Baskin Robbins is still as expensive and not-worth-it in Vietnam as it is in America. Oh well. Risa was also overwhelmed with awe when we saw that the French bakery had a Blendtec blender. Girls... they're so weird...
We also went to the Zoo while we were there. It was... kinda normal. It was like a normal zoo on welfare. They had a bunch of animals, but instead of having one of a lot of "different" animals, they had a lot of just a "few" animals. Take the crocodile pits for instance. There were probably 50 crocs all lounging around a giant pen - which was pretty cool - but you see my point. And the "reptile house" had about 30 cages in it, but they were ALL filled with either "boas", "iguanas", or "water dragons". That's it - it was hilarious. We kept rounding another corner thinking, "what new amazing animal will they show next?" Only to find ANOTHER green iguana. Ha ha ha.
At long last, it was time to leave. We had acquired SO much new crap [needed clothing], that we barely fit it into the suitcases [shoulder bags]. Amazingly enough, we were still under budget for the trip [by like $15]! That's the beauty of Vietnam. So - there you have it. A full account of our trip to Ho Chi Minh City. I hope you enjoyed it. Now go do something productive AWAY from the computer. Ha ha ha.
[Post written by Michael with interjections by Risa]