06 November 2005

Saturday Night On The Town

After three months in Ho Chi Minh City, I finally made it out on a Saturday night. I took the shuttle into town to have dinner with three colleagues from work.

It gets dark here very early and by 6:30 pm, it is pitch black. In all honesty, it was really hard to get out the door. It felt like it was 10 pm, and time to go to bed. But once I did get into town, everything was fine. Seeing the city for the first time at night was quite a revelation. As I walked the two blocks to the restaurant and looked around at the tourist filled streets, I wondered why I hadn’t done this before.

Everything takes on a different flavor at night. Even though I had been on those same, exact streets at least twice a week since arriving, it was if I were in a new city. Everything’s lit up, people spill in and out of restaurants and cafĂ©s, and the outside temperature is perfect. The pleasant weather alone is reason enough to come out at night. You just don’t sweat like you do when the sun is beating down at midday. So why hadn’t I gone out before?

We ate at a nice place, although the service seemed to be a little off, at least for our table. It took about thirty minutes to just get our drink orders in and then another thirty minutes to be served our food. They never did manage to clear the table, so we just piled the dishes up at one end when they brought our tea at the end of the meal.

I had to rush out, leaving the dinner group with their tea, in order to get the last shuttle bus back home. Looking around at all the activity, I thought about staying longer and taking a taxi home, but what was I going to do? Walk into a bar, sit at a cafĂ©, or stroll the streets alone at 10pm? Those are things one can do during the daylight hours and not feel completely like a total looser for not having any friends. But it is not the same at night, especially when you don’t know a soul at any of the establishments.

Still, I think it might be better than sitting alone all weekend cleaning the house and spending way too much time on lesson plans. I’ll decide what to do next Saturday, next Saturday.