By Cate

We arrived in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) a couple of days ago.  It’s different from five years ago.  It seems more like a big city.  There are still people sitting on little stools on the side of the street eating their meals, but not nearly as many.  There are no more tuk tuks in Saigon but still plenty of scooters.  Everyone on a scooter is wearing a helmet and, they actually stop at stop lights now.  How crazy is that?  There are more sky scrapers and cars and the shops include plenty of t.v.s, cell phones, computers etc.

Still a very friendly place to visit and for some reason, our pathetic Vietnamese provides endless entertainment to folks here.  We like to try to order our meals in Vietnamese (the menus are in English and Vietnamese) which usually prompts gales of laughter from our servers.  Anne-Marie has gamely persisted in the effort.

We visited the orphanage we visited 5 years ago and spent two mornings there holding the kids, playing with them and feeding them.  Quite an experience.  The children in one room are profoundly disabled.  Only a few of the 30 or so children could even raise their heads, 1 could walk.  All the rest barely react to basic stimulus of touch or smells of food.  Still they seemed to appreciate the cuddles and attention we gave them.  Bow held a boy who was almost her size, all he wanted was for someone to just cuddle him, his toes almost dragged on the floor once he’d wrapped himself around her.  Hesquiat spent a very long time trying to teach another boy to drum little beats.  The boy preferred it if Hesquiat copied him.  Anne-Marie made friends with the one boy who could walk.  He loved being squeezed and so she would open her arms and he’d throw himself at her for a big squeeze and then laugh away.  He didn’t want her to leave when it was time to go.  We had to get an aide to distract him so we could get away.  We did manage to leave without taking a baby with us – but just barely.

We lunched at our favourite pancake place which has not changed at all.  The kitchen is across the street and we sit at the second floor railing and watch our waitresses brave the downtown traffic to bring us our meals.

We’re all doing fine and looking forward to the beach at Mui Ne.  We’re heading there by bus tomorrow and hope to have a few tropical beach pictures for you all in the near future.  We’re all looking forward to getting home to hockey and pets, school, friends and politics!  Can’t wait.