Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Last night Ms. Hương returned, on her normal weeknight this time, and cooked a stellar meal for us: about ten fat fresh summer rolls, filled with mint and shrimp, and a large bowl of veggie soup. These were ideas we'd come up with and asked her to make in a text message we sent her yesterday. She did not need to pick up extra groceries, we'd told her; we will hardly be home before she comes again next Tuesday. Today, shortly before noon, we will board a flight to Hà Nội, our first trip to the capital. We will be home on Sunday night, possibly so late that I will not post another Update before Monday. Between now and then, we will be hitting the streets of the comparatively small, leafy, and cold flatlands far to the north of us, up the S shape of Việt Nam near enough to the Chinese border. Sunshine will be working a conference Thursday and Friday, and we will then be taking our weekend to enjoy a new town. Temperatures will average in the sixties, meaning the nights could come in under fifty degrees F, and I will finally, maybe for the only time this year, get to wear my leather jacket in comfort. I am a little nervous about today's flight, and not just because I'm always a little worried about flying. But added to the recent tales of tigers1 and scorpions2 is the news that sixty-plus crates of live rat snakes, over a ton of reptiles, were seized Friday in Hà Nội following their illegal importation from Bangkok on Vietnam Air.3 This is the second incident of officials finding a box of illegal snakes on the national carrier in a month.4 I am for sure not checking my own luggage. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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