Friday, December 24, 2010

Saigon: Porkstock 2010

How perfect is this. After negotiating a decent taxi fare (140,000VND or ~$7USD) to the area where we planned on staying, the taxi driver loaded our bags into the trunk and then closed the trunk on his keys so they were trapped at the top of the lid. Bags in trunk, keys in trunk, our destinies entwined; and after much ado, the keys released. Photo: Truly, the Breakfast of Champions

We did what we’ve done every other time in Saigon – leave Leslie (and this time, David) in a café with our bags and I struck out to find a place to stay. I went to several places, including two (Kim Hotel and Saigon Comfort) where we’ve stayed before, and came back to the café to discuss what I’d found. I hadn’t taken off my heavy daypack and by the time I got back to the café my back was soaked. Leslie went across the street to look at the Kim and told Mrs. Kim, yes to a 4th floor $23 triple with a balcony over the alley/lane. Photo: The pork chop lady with a friend reading my note to the lady, thanking her for great breakfasts in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010.

Trip Advisor Review: We stayed at the Kim Hotel in 2007 and it was a good value. We’re here again in 2010 and it has become a great value. The hotel has been renovated, but remains a family-run and family-oriented place. All the people we’ve seen staying here are couples and families – no prostitutes and no rowdy gap year groups of guys. The rooms are decent size (ours holding a queen-size bed and single added bed comfortably) with good aircon, wall-mounted fan, and small balcony. Wifi is good and there are also 2 computers downstairs for guest use.

Staff are friendly and helpful, Mrs. Kim remains pleasant and helpful, and the bill was accurate.

The location is on a (relatively) quiet “backpacker alley” which is clearly seeing a lot of upgrading so that soon this will be pretty much a flashpacker and mid-priced alley. It’s a 1-2 block walk to the grittier environs of De Tham and Bui Vien main, and a 6 block walk to Ben Thanh Market. Altogether the Kim Hotel a good place and a good deal.

Our first morning David and I went to breakfast at the place where we'd eaten before. A great breakfast – rice with pork chop, egg, and some vegetables. To me this is the best pork ever. Oh, and a powerful café sua da and then another. Truly, The Breakfast of Champions. Leslie had planned on eating at another place, but our report was so glowing that she wanted to go see the pork chop lady. I believe I’ll have another café sua da. Back to the room to rest and then to Ben Thanh Market with David to walk around and then, no surprise here, bun thit nuong and banh cuon. David bought some Christmas presents and then back to hotel to rest and then to the streets. Dinner in a café on the alley and around the corner to De Tham Street for shakes (one mango, one pineapple). Photo: Bags of shrimp in various sizes and grades

“Goodnight Dad.” How sweet to hear those words. We met David at the Hanoi airport and since then we’ve been together, again, in Asia, from Hanoi to Hue to Saigon and on to Phnom Penh. Together, comfortable in the sorts of budget places we like, eating on the street, in backpacker cafés, walking, walking through the teeming streets. “Goodnight Dad” – grateful that I learned from Leslie how to be a good parent, that I wanted to know, that I worked to reverse my

karma that would have been my son’s karma and now isn’t. “Goodnight Dad.”

The next day the porkathon continued with the same breakfast, later back to Ben Thanh for shrimp on sugar cane and pork satay. Leslie bought some pepper and got so mixed up on grams and dong that she asked me, “What should I do?” We went back to the hotel to pick David up and to Bui Vien Street for pho from the Pho Bo café that’s been around for awhile. This is pho definitely made with ox tail stock – the real deal. The days blurring now, with the one constant being the pork chop lady. Photo above: Food court at Ben Thanh Market

On our last morning we got coffee from the place next door to the Kim, six egg sandwiches on

French loaves (3 for breakfast and 3 for Leslie’s obsession, the “tripnic”) on French loaves from a street vendor on the corner, and away we go on the bus Saigon to Phnom Penh.


Alison said...

"that I worked to reverse my karma that would have been my son’s karma and now isn’t. “Goodnight Dad.”
That's so good!

Merry Christmas to your lovely family Charles.

somchai said...

Merry Christmas ck