Monday Jan 4th

Written by Jack van Ommen on January 4th, 2010
The former Presidential Palace now "Reunification Palace" with war booty

The former Presidential Palace now "Reunification Palace" with war booty

My main  mission today was to get my visa for Cambodia. I dropped off my passport in the morning and went back for the visa in the late afternoon. I had coffee and breakfast at my, first day here, friend Mike’s place. I like him. At lunch I met two Quebecois, Allain and Pierre. They just retired from journalist jobs in Montreal. We are going for dinner together this evening, then they are off to Nha Trang and beyond and I meet my Pnom Penh bus at 7.30 a.m. The Cambodian consulate was in a colonial villa the way Saigon was for the most part back in the sixties. Once you step through the gate you are in a heaven of peace and tranquility the traffic noises are filtered out by the brick walls and tall trees. The smells of frangipani blossoms, a fountain and fish ponds. The consulate was not far from our old apartment on 425 Hai Ba Trung and I rode to take a look. For all I knew there would be a 20 story building by now. But it had not changed since 2006 only a little more dillapidated. Just a few blocks beyond a branch of the Saigon river crosses Hai Ba Trung. In the sixties it used to be covered with water cress but with the increased population and consumption these rivers had become open sewers. Now they are cleaning them up. The banks are lined with concrete seawalls and all the semi permanent boat dwellers have been hushed away.

 

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