There's a place out on the street that I've been looking at a lot, but I love the guy who makes his own wontons so much that I have been defaulting to him when I want soup. His broth is so clear. Speaking of broth, it's just a bit disconcerting to see the woman making the Bo Kho soup broth because she is constantly removing what looks to be dinosaur bones...big, thick hunks of bone that she drops on the ground in the alley. I know that purists wait until the end of the night to get the deep flavor, and since I eat at 8:00, I think I get that. It's truly delicious. Just like with pho, it is served with noodles and a huge plate of greens -- basil and bean sprouts, mostly. You pick at them yourself, put them in, squeeze some lime over it, add some chili sauce and hoisin sauce and there you go...it's fifteen thousand, just like the wonton soup (90 cents). We are constantly amazed at our neighborhood; they don't overcharge us for anything.
After the stew, I go to my favorite fruit drink lady a few doors down. She has been making avocado shakes when she sees me coming, but now I am pointing to other fruits. My favorite this week is grapefruit. If you saw a grapefruit here you wouldn't recognize it. It's paler, bigger and it's not sour; actually, it's quite sweet and the sections are more plump and juicy, a completely different texture and taste. In fact, if you tasted a grapefruit here you wouldn't recognize it, either. There is a guy who sells them at the morning market -- I love him because he peels them, too; the fruit and this service costs only 5,000 (30 cents). Since having to peel the grapefruit is its only bad quality, I think this is the best deal on the street.
After dinner and the shake and a shower, I head down to the Bum Bum. They will dry my hair and straighten it for 60 cents. I love that, and the way they straighten it defies the humidity--I'm getting used to showering at night so I can have straight hair. You never need to make an appointment at the Bum Bum (or any other salon), you just show up and they are ready to do whatever: a shampoo (you sit in the chair and they lather your head for about half an hour, then rinse for another half an hour while they do the cucumber facial), pedicures/manicures, haircut...They all just lounge around watching TV or doing each other's hair until someone comes. We have let the secret out about our amazing massage person, Trung. She is so great. And, as Katherine stated so well the other day, "There is a very good reason they are called the 'Bum Bum'." Trung really works your Glutious Maximus! So now, many of our AIS friends are coming to our neighborhood for the food and the massages (and the rooftop). How did we ever get so lucky?
Nam is not on the street to take me to school this morning. I'm surprised, and I wait for him until ten past seven, then hire someone else. I want to communicate to Nam that I'm going to the gym so he should pick me up at 6 at the arch and I try texting him, but there he is when I head out at 4:30, so he obviously didn't get the message. He takes out a bottle of aspirin and points to his head. He's telling me he had a headache in the morning, that's why he wasn't there. I think Nam is HM. If you don't know what HM is, then it supposedly means you are HM, too: HIGH MAINTENANCE. Last week, it's his cell phone, this week it's his headache. Well, I know the real reason: he had a hangover. I know this because everyone was out partying in the alley last night. Long tables were set up with tons of food and everyone was doing shots and yelling "hey!" in unison for hours. We have no idea what was going on, but I do know one thing: we did not call the police. We don't call the police on them when they play really sappy sentimental music to distortion, either.
So anyway, I tell Nam I'm going to the gym. He drives me the two blocks over there and points over to the restaurant across the street. He will wait for me and eat. He likes to share what he does in between driving me...sometimes he gets his hair washed, sometimes he goes to temple, sometimes he eats. When he drops me off at the castle gate, the neighbor who held the candle for me Sat. night is surprised to see Nam. They seem to know each other. Nam knows everyone, and everyone likes him. I like him, too, as infuriating as he can be...
Parent conferences tomorrow (with translators). I had better get some rest!