Coffee Shop

August 20th, 2010

After a few days in Saigon, I returned to Hoa Sen University one last time to give them copies of the photographs I’d taken for their conference.  I took a taxi to them and decided it wasn’t a long walk back, so I’d try to return on foot.

Well, I ended up lost.  I walked and walked, passing by many dusty roads and shops.  Large residential buildings full of apartments and people’s lives.  Shops selling vendor carts that were so common in the areas I’d been in.  Shops selling everyday needs – furniture, bathroom fixtures, lights… anything a local would need.  Saigon is a sprawling city – and so much of it looks so similar.  I passed by a turnabout I know I’d been through before in a vehicle.  But to know which direction to head from there?  Let’s just say I made some bad directional choices.

After about two hours, I decided to find a place to sit, relax, and possibly find my way.   Discovering a road with more restaurants and a few cafe’s, I randomly picked a nice looking cafe I was walking by.  The waitress let me chose my seat and inquired to what I would like.  Not being in the central district of the city any more, it was not surprising that they didn’t really know much english.  I asked for the menu, but this shop had none. So I tried ordering tea, being still very new I hadn’t learnt the word for it yet.   Somehow I managed to receive a bottle of sweetened lemon green tea and a glass of ice to pour it in.

After sitting there for a while, I noticed this was not a typical cafe.  It seemed all the staff were cute girls.  I guess that’s not too unusual, but for some reason it seemed different here.  However, before I knew it, one sat next to me, then another.  They were doing their best to try to talk to me.  They didn’t know much English, but we communicated as best we could without.  We established names and ages.  I looked at my phone to check the time.  One of them was surprised I had a phone.  I showed it to her, and she put her number in it.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I stepped into a coffee shop where the girls working there are allowed to “date” the clientèle.  I found it amusing this coffee shop had but a few customers, while the one across the street was packed with people.  After a few customers arrived, and the staff had gone to talk to them, I watched for a while, trying to understand and observe.  Eventually, I grabbed my bag and walked off.  Still a bit lost, but rested and ready to move again.

I walked until I found another turnabout, and found myself on a map.  Several kilometers off from my destination.  I decided it would be best to grab a cab back to my hotel.

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