We took something of the roundabout way to get to Hue, though coming here the way we did means that I can now say that I habe circumnavigated the globe. In 2009, we traveled east to Hue, through Europe as we were spending time there on the return leg. In 2012, we traveled west, as we wanted to stop to see younger son in Seattle. He's only been there two months, but I've missed him. He's braiding his hair now and works in a building named after the corgi that used to push the button that launched new Amazon.com software. The building is surrounded by interesting sculptures and sits beside an interestingly named street given that younger son hangs out there. We ate Vietnamese food for lunch just to set the mood for the weeks to come and Indonesian food for dinner because the husband hadn't had it in a while. For dessert we ate some of the pie that I carried out in my checked luggage. Yes, the TSA opened my suitcase to open the box in which the pie was packed to open the pie itself which had been wrapped in multiple layers of aluminum foil. At least they did not sample the pie, though if they had they would have been pleased. It was a good pie.
After the afternoon and evening with younger son, we flew to San Francisco to embark upon one of those life things you either approach as an adventure or not at all--a 15-hour plane ride. At least United Airlines has gotten rid of the red carpet fragments they used to let the important people walk over to present their boarding passes to the gate agent. Now they just have separate lanes. We actually lucked out in that the person who was supposed to be sitting in the window seat of our row decided to sit elsewhere on the non-full 747, meaning that we had three seats for the two of us, or at least for the two of us to share with our traveling companion, Charlie. Our route took us up the west coast before curving around the bottom of Alaska and the Aleutians and down over Siberia. Let me tell you, there is a whole lot of nothing down there. There's a lot going on up in the airplane, though. Our entertainment schedule for the flight went something like this: first movie, two hours of television, second movie, two hours of television, third movie, fourth movie, and, finally, two hours of television. In reality, it was a great flight. The cabin crew did a terrific job, and there was very little turbulence. I was able to get up every hour and walk around to keep the circulation going in my bruised leg. Still, by the time we got to Ho Chi Minh City, the bruising and draining thereof had yielded some quite interesting patterns. Arrival in Saigon (even the locals still call it that) was interesting. Three years ago, I remember looking around in wonder, trying to take it all in. Last night, it felt like coming home. I looked around, and sat back, thinking how comfortable it felt. It was clear even in the dark of midnight that the hotel at which the university put us up for the night was somewhat classy. As we checked out this morning, we found out just how classy: Before 1975, it housed offices for the president and prime minister of the "former Saigon government."
Our flight to Hue was uneventful, though it turned out not to be the 34 degrees Celsius that we both thought we heard the flight attendant say it was supposed to be there. In fact, it was much cooler, to the point that many of the locals were wearing sweaters or winter coats. After getting checked in to our new hotel, we got a feel for its location by walking back to see if the hotel at which we stayed three years ago still existed. It does, though the neighborhood around it has changed somewhat with the addition of some new and rather large hotels and government buildings. Construction techniques are much the same as they were three years ago. The floors being held up by, among other things, sticks of wood here, are part of this larger enterprise. Older son will be pleased to learn that the corner cafe that served cuttlefish is still in business. Younger son might recognize where we had a late lunch (two pizzas and two local beers for less than $10.00). Finally, TyTy, the woman with whom we struck up a friendship three years ago, still runs her stall by the river, and we spent some time catching up with her. There seem to be many more Western tourists here now than three years ago. Much remains the same, and much may be different. I'm looking forward to discovering more in both regards. I'm also looking forward to better light for photographs, but first, I must get the husband up and moving or the amount of sleep he gets now will come back to haunt him when he can't sleep later. I'm thinking the Mandarin for dinner, an inside reference to which the sons can relate.