January 13th, 2010

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Jan. 13 Rediscovering Saigon. Cercle Sportif.

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Last night I had dinner in one of the few spots that remind me of the Saigon of the sixties. Tall towering Genuine Mahogany trees lining the boulevard and colonial buildings in a park like setting. It was a restaurant of an athletic club. With tennis courts. It reminded me of the Cercle Sportif. When I was here in 2006 I did not even bother to ask anyone if any remnants of the “Cercle Sportif” still existed. I figured that this decadent vestige of the Colonialist would have been one of the first to be torn down. But guess what? It still stands and I was looking at it last night. I rode the bike there this morning and found the swimming pool where I had played hooky in 1961 while being a man without a country, or at least without a passport, in the services of the U.S.Army. (read the story at www.cometosea.us/albums/log-Vietnam.htm  and see the pictures of that period at http://cometosea.us/albums/albums/Circumnavigation%20Slideshow/Vietnam.pdf)                                                   The pool, as the pictures attest, has not changed. The signs went from French to Vietnamese. The place looks a little run down but the water and the setting is still just as inviting. The daily admission to the pool is 12,000 dong or about 75 dollar cents. The restaurant prices are better than I have found in the  back alleys of Saigon. A bowl of Bun Cha Gio ( noodle soup with Vietnamese Spring Rolls) 18,000 or just under a dollar. Many good emotions prompted this visit. I talked to a visitor sitting by the pool, Andre, a tourist from Geneve. Turns 77 this January 24. He had worked as a driver at the American Embassy in Geneve, great stories, Bush Sr., Mitterand, etc. had been his passengers. We have three ex wives in common (not the same wives). 

I went for my 2 p.m. dentist appointment but the adjusting of the crown took longer tha planned and I’ll go back at 7 p.m. The dentist was nice enough to remove the stitches from my foot operation. I had time to go to the War Remnant Museum. This is not my idea of a vacation to be reminded of the hour of U.S. shame. But if I press the issue with my children to be aware of what the Nazis did to their grandmother than I should be able to take a refresher course as well that cruelty and stupidity is not reserved to a particular nationality or race.