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vendredi 21 mars 2008

Cuba and Vietnam

A Letter to my friends in Cuba:
Dear Friends:
I want to convey to you two images from my first few hours in Vietnam.
In Miami, I had bought a pulsera roja, with the flag of Cuba and the word Cuba prominently written on it. I have it on my wrist as I write this to you.
I arrived today at the Saigon Airport from Singapore after a short flight of only 1 hour and 30 minutes.
A young immigration officer was checking my papers, noticed my pulsera.. and smiled as he said:

viva Bac Fidel.. Bac is the honorific title of Uncle as in Bac Ho, Uncle Ho.

In his broken English and with hand gestures he said to me: Cuba and Vietnam very close. Bac Ho love Cuba.
It was very emotional for me, as you know, I am very fond of the dear little island which all of us unashamedly love, but never, not even in Venezuela, have I received (as I have in the past), such affection from all quarters in Vietnam, from school children to porters at the hotel! I know for a fact that all elementary school children in Vietnam learn about Cuba.
I was nearly in tears at this gentle affection for Nuestra Isla Rica. I wanted to give something of a souvenir, the only thing i could easily find in my handluggage was a button of CHE which i had bought for fifty cents in Birmania..
He was so pleased.. He said, Bac Che, we know him..
For the many hours after that, my heart felt so good, so full of love for Vietnam... which only increased after my dinner with my friend, Pham Thi Nga, at Bun Bo Hue Restaurant..

This is something we should take note.
Nga (which in Vietnamese means Ivory) and I went and sat down and quickly within seconds, the lady arrives with menu. since i cant eat pork, had to choose carefully from the large menu.
This is what we chose..
Sugarcane juice (guarapo) with Tangerine
Rice Pancake with Shrimps
Mussels with shredded vegies and greens
Steamed clams with citronelle in claypot
Nga ordered pork dish for herself

One by one the dishes arrived, we never had to wait. Iced Tea was compliments of the house.
Better taste than any of the vietnamese restaurants i have eaten in Paris..

PCV is still in power, but in the two years I have been absent from Saigon, the place is more prosperous, life has certainly gotten better for the Vietnamese..

Uncle Ho Chi Minh's vision for an united and prosperous Vietnam has come true eventhough he may not have approved of some of the market economy methods. It made me wonder...

It is well past midnght here in Saigon, and it is 1 pm in San Cristobal de la Habana.
Fond Wishes and Good night to all of you

Sudah Yehuda
4th night of Hanukkah in Saigon HochiMinh City

PS Nga and I had further meals at a restaurant in the market at breakfast time, the lunch was at a place called PHO 24, café with friends at a café called AQ café, Saturday night at a Karaoke Bar (my first experience, to which Nga and I were invited by her friends). Lunch on Sunday was the best, prepared by Nga and her friend Thuy at the home of Nga. Fresh and simply delicious.
Japan has the healthiest food on a daily basis and Vietnam has food with flavor and fragrance on a daily basis and all that is fresh.

How I long to go back to Vietnam, to feel the balmy air of the night as you ride through the nights silence, repeatedly good food and a friend called Ivory.
I have visited Vietnam with both my brothers, with Elliott in 2003 and with Richard in 2005. In fact I had emailed Richard to say that at 12 noon on the 14th of July 2005, my friend Nga would come there to give him a present on my behalf for his birthday. He arrives with a flower in his hand and a postcard of thanks for Nga… and imagine his surprise to see his brothers voice over the public address system of the Hanoi Hilton Hotel.. Dr Hartoch, please come to the reception… like they page the doctors at hospitals..
I am writing this on 6th January 2008 from the house of my sister in Miami.

I wonder when I will be back in Vietnam again?