A last night in Saigon (HCMC)

by James Murtaugh, Sep 12, 2004 | Destinations: Vietnam / Ho Chi Minh City

May, 2003.

After a long thirty day trip in Vietnam we come to our last night in Saigon. I must think of something for my wife and I to do. I decide to go to a cafe on De Tham street. At night they put tables and chairs on the sidewalk and we will drink some beer, eat the free peanuts and watch the parade of people walking by. A quiet end to our trip.

It is a beautiful night with a rare cool breeze. We enjoy a couple of beers and nuts and I told my wife that I wanted to go to the music store around the corner to buy a vietnamese album of popular music. After buying a CD I realized we would pass the cafe on the way to our hotel. If our table was still empty, we would stop for one last beer.

Our table was empty and we sat down. I was looking at the CD that I bought and when the waiter saw it, he said "No good!". He asked where I bought it and said that he would find better music for me.

While he was gone we talked to a man from Europe who has lived in Saigon for five years and loved the city very much. Our waiter came back with four CD's for the price we had paid for one and I thanked him for his kindness.

A little while later, the waiter invited our little group inside for a birthday party. The birthday boy is about sixteen years old. Mom and Dad, an older sister, younger brother and an uncle are inside. There is a birthday cake and we sing the "Happy Birthday" song in english and vietnamese to the boy. The cake is very good.

The uncle wants to really "party". He puts on the music and pulls us up to dance. My wife and I are having a great time and I do my best "Saturday Night Fever" dance. I get the birthday boy up to dance, too! The boy's mother calls the waiter over and asks "Who are those people?". He told her that we were just customers. People on the street are now stopping to look in to see what was going on.

At last, we had to say good-bye. A long flight was ahead of us the next day. The uncle begs us to stay but our hotel locks the doors late at night.

The street is almost empty now and I hold my wife's hand as we walk. It had been a great night and I was thinking that how could we not want to return to Vietnam. A country full of wounderful people who do their best to make you feel at home.

Jim Murtaugh

* * * * *