I awoke on Friday in Manila with a sort of joyful anticipation akin to that little kid in A Christmas Story—today’s the big day. Then it hit me: today’s the big day! Yikes!!! I’m going back.
That’s when my throat got all lumpy. Could have been a touch of PMS, and since my hormones are going nuts these days pretty much 24/7, who the hell knows.
But there I was, all lumpy, thinking about going back to Saigon.
Manila was shut down and Philippine Airways cancelled my Saturday flight out, hence my day-early departure. Everyone was trying to grab a glimpse of His Pontiffness. We had anticipated a slow drive to the Manila aeroport (Philippine Airlines, terminal 2), but one of those magical things happened, sort of a Tragedy of the Commons in reverse: everyone figured the streets would be madness, so… they all stayed home!
Bless them, because there is nothing quite like a Manila traffic jam!
So it was a very fast drive to the aeroport, which was good and bad. Good because, well, fast drive. Bad, because I missed the pope’s response to President Aquino’s interesting speech. I especially liked the part where the president whacked the Catholic clergy upside the head for their lack of a moral stance during the Marcos years. It needed saying, but mmmmm, not such a nice way to present a guest.
I’m typing this now on our approach to Saigon, trying to concentrate on typing this while looking out the window. It is very hazy, but I can still see the green mountains, red clay, and rice fields below. Luckily, I’m a tremendously talented tyist ;ijpaoinl ’kasndo figja[ ‘sij./
[I found that I was spending far too much time trying to learn iMovie to edit some of the video I shot (badly). So in the interest of not falling down a rabbit hole again, videos are unedited, uncool, un-music’ed, and un-narrated.]
This is the hazy approach to Saigon:
The whole time in, you’re looking everywhere for something–anything–that looks familiar.
Finally on the ground: bunkers. Familar-ish, because you know they must have been there “before”:
Welcome to Tân Sơn Nhất!
Customs is fun, but only for the first hour or so waiting for the Visa On Arrival: