Now to find my steed... and remember the bits of the language I could have studied more.
Caught a cab (@ U.S. prices) to my first hotel and saw what I've only read about... There are motos EVERYWHERE! They run in packs that remind me of a school of fish in that they move almost as one unit and there is inherent safety in numbers. My cab driver used his horn at least twice per block and it seemed to have virtually no effect on the riders.
After a quick shower, I changed $100 to 2,125,000 Vietnamese dong and headed out on foot to feel the city...
It feels very alive; quite fast yet slow; many, many farang (foreigners); touts for massages, food, and more—sometimes I got "Hello Mister, you want nice girl?" after I said no thank you to a massage or a rental Moto. I'm pretty sure they mean "fun".
A little later, Huong's friend Ann came by the hotel and carried me on her scooter to grab some phỏ (pron. "fa") and send a few minutes at a Moto shop with nice new bikes that look like mini-versions (<=175cc) of what you'd see in the U.S. The salesman quoted US$3000 for an India-made Suzuki and US$2000 for a brand I never heard of made in China. Both of them were fairly adamant that the Chinese-made bike was to be avoided. The prices seem pretty high, but then I am a farang :-) and it was his first number. He then said (with Ann translating) that I was would not be allowed to buy a new bike, even for cash, unless I could show local employment. Will discuss that on Monday with the guys at Flamingo Travel.
Ann bought me a nice cup of peach black tea—literally black tea with three slices of peach in it—on the way back to my hotel. She is very busy with work and school, so is unable to assist me as I would like. She will talk to a friend of hers about showing me around town more and helping me, if needed, with the bike purchase.
After Ann dropped me off at the hotel, instead of going inside, I decided to walk around for a bit. Even though I was quite tired from the 25+ hours of travel. I stayed within 10 blocks of the hotel, because I'm still trying to get my bearings and foolishly left without any way to get back if I wandered too far and lost my sense of place.
I read about the rooftop bar at the Rex Hotel, and since it's only a few blocks from my hotel, I decided to check it out. It was fairly quiet for a Sunday night, so I sat and ordered a Tiger beer. It tasted like a lighter version of Bud Light and should've been called Pussycat beer (with emphasis on the first syllable). My little cat 5-lb Mouse could've kicked that Tiger's ass :-)
After choking down the beer and some very salty peanuts, I wandered slowly back to the hotel where I called it a night at only 9 o'clock. It was 6 AM Sunday morning at home—more than 48 hours since I woke up in Olympia and traveled for more than 25 hours.
Tomorrow will be about looking for a motorcycle and finding another place to stay. This hotel is very nice, though too Westernized. Nothing against Marriott properties—I'm just looking for something with a little more character.
In case you're wondering, I turned down ALL the touts ;-)