Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Reunion Day Highlights

1) T and T

Our flight was delayed, making our arrival 1 am instead of 10 pm, which meant I had to wait one more day to see T and T. Shea and I walked around the dark neighborhood while my heart was practically bursting to see them. We took sleeping pills, then I got up at 6:30 to make my way to the stand -- again, with my heart beating so fast. Their sister-in-law saw me first, and she gasped - she sells shoes next to the fabric - and Thanh was standing with her back to me. "Maggie!" she said when I hugged her from behind. Thuy was sitting on top of her fabric, still putting the finishing touches on the display. We all laughed and hugged for a long time, then I made my way around to say hi to the surrounding vendors and their mother. After about twenty minutes of reunion, Thanh says, "We go get pho, then rice cakes at 9 am." We went back to get Shea, then headed to a new pho stand. What a lucky person I am to have this family across the world.

And Thuy's son - what a character. So full of personality.

2) The Vendors

Thanh came with me for my red-carpet walk through the alleys - red carpet is the only way I can describe the feeling I get when eyes light up with recognition and heartfelt welcomes are exchanged after so long (which is actually quite different from the red carpet, I realize). I brought chocolate bars for some of my favorites:

Garlic Lady, Towel Lady, Pig Feet Lady (the three who always fought to say "hello" to me first when I walked down the market each morning). Chicken Soup Couple is still there, Banana Lady is gone. Pomelo Guy now sells durian. For the most part, the market is unchanged. The sounds and the smells brought me right back. And actually the air was kind of cool -- comparatively. Again, how lucky am I to have this neighborhood all the way across the world?

2a) Rice Cakes!
Just as good, maybe better, as the ones in the alley. This vendor only makes cakes about three days per week, according to Thanh. But yesterday she requested that rice cakes would be on the menu for me, and of course they were. The shrimp were bigger, and Thanh peeled them for me as Shea and I sat in the home of the vendor next to her two kids on the floor. They truly are the best taste in this world.

4) Tran

After rice cakes Thanh took me to see Tran, Katherine and my favorite masseuse. She gasped..."Marjie!" (She's one of the only people here who pronounces my name correctly). I thought we were just saying "hi" but I ended up getting a massage directly following rice cakes, which is what fantasies are made of. And after that, a mani-pedi.

Tran now owns this business with her cousin, and she is very proud of that...they were both Bum Bum employees, but...the Bum Bum is gone!! It's OK, though, because this salon is just like the Bum Bum - the people are what made that place. Tran is one of the most generous, warm people on earth. As I sat for my mani-pedi, she had pineapple juice delivered by motorbike. Again, fantasy times one hundred.

5) Ms. Hao

I went to see Ms. Hao, our former seamstress neighbor, but they indicated that she had moved. Later, Shea and I were making our way through the neighborhood and we just accidentally passed her house. She was standing in the doorway and we both did a double take, then hugged and greeted each other. That was awesome.

6) Shea

Sharing all of this with this cool human being who just goes with the flow and appreciates everything made the day all that much more special. Later, after a quick tour of Ben Thanh market, the church and the Continental Hotel, we had just gotten to our fourth floor hotel room when the rain came. And it RAINED. Shea went out on the deck to get soaked in it.

7) Thuy and Thanh's meals.

Of course they showed us the royal treatment. "You come here for lunch and dinner," Thuy demanded. And so we obeyed. Lunch made by Thanh - seafood rolls and seafood stir-fry. Dinner made by Thuy - my favorite soup: thick noodles, shrimp, squid and eggplant. Fantasy times a thousand.


Unknown said...

Best welcome “home” ever, sounds like. Even some rain to give you clean streets. Bob

Carol A Bowker said...

This blog brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful to be greeted with so much love. I'm thinking it must be because you GIVE so much love. Keep the blogs coming! MOM

Karrie said...

I'm so happy for you! What a dream day. Wish I were with you. Someday?

Anonymous said...

It sounds just as wonderful as ever, Marjie. I'm so glad you get to be there. I'm so glad I got be there in that wonderful neighborhood! -Angie

Maria said...

Loved your reunions, and celebratory meals, of course. Can't wait to read more.

Brian Bowker said...

You're such a celebrity! That's so great!

A few questions:
1. Have you made Shea cross the street yet?
2. Are you going to let Shea do a guest post?
3. Have you been back by the Castle? How's it looking?

Loving the posts!

Marjie Bowker said...

For sure. I would love to take you there!

Marjie Bowker said...

We have had trouble with the hotel internet, my stupid computer, and being too busy. I will have to do that when I return. I'm posting everything on Facebook for now.

Mungo said...

Yay, Pig Feet Lady!!