Saturday, November 20, 2010
Due to the massive crowds drawn to the Ginza on weekends, Tokyo authorities have pedestrianized the city streets surrounding the main drag. Sunset approaches, the sun is ready for another timezone and the power plants feeding Tokyo are just awakening to raise the curtain on another show in the Ginza; a fantastic show of lights beckoning consumers of all walks of life.
The Aztecs had their gold and the Spanish journeyed far to discover it. The Ginza entices all with the power of its lights. Welcome to the glitter that is Ginza!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
A well oiled machine of sterile efficiency is how I would describe my first impression of Tokyo. The train from the airport to the Shinjuku section of Tokyo took over an hour as Narita airport is situated quite far from Tokyo proper.
A long walk from the Shinjuku station to our hotel greeted us. It was needed though since it helped wake us up! We became enveloped in the regular hustle and bustle of Tokyo on a Friday morning. Our fellow commuters looked as if they had earned the weekend that was almost upon them; we just needed our hotel bed!
Hello and TGIF Tokyo!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The humidity is even more intense this morning than in Viet Nam so we decided to take refuge in the myriad malls up and down Orchard Road. As long as the credit cards stay in our wallets, we'll survive.
Off to Tokyo tomorrow night!
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Thursday nite was dinner with the nieces and nephews in Saigon. It was great to catch up with the vibrant youth of Vietnam. All doing well.
Friday we were off, via bumpy taxi ride, to Ba Ria (coastal town east of Saigon) where Si's sister lives. Her son Duy's wedding preparations were in full swing when we arrived. Flowers everywhere! Hair and makeup too! Today was the first ceremony at the local Catholic church. The wedding mass was beautiful.
Following the mass we all returned to the house where a great dinner was served. The arrival of the bride's family signaled the start of the feast. Laughter, spring rolls, and beer (can after can) cemented the family bonding. The formal wedding events were done.
Saturday was reserved for the festivities. In the morning both families joined together to pay homage to The Groom's ancestors. This formal ceremony involved the Bride and Groom, both dressed in traditional garb, facing the shrine of the ancestors and lighting incense. Requests are made to the departed for their blessings on the marriage. Flame turns to smoke and it is time for drinking and celebrations.
The afternoon reception, at a local banquet hall, was beautifully executed, with beer, scotch, and vodka flowing. The seven courses of food was delicious. "Xo!" ("bottoms up") was the cheers heard for the remains of the day; the hangovers were for another day.
Duy and Uyen, "Tram Nam Hanh Phuc" ("100 Years of Happiness for you both!")
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
An obvious measure of Saigon's change is the car to moped ratio on the city streets. I'm not talking about the luxury editions from Japan and Europe, just regular automobiles. More and more Saigonese can afford them but the city streets cannot; most were never built to accommodate the volume of traffic they get today.
I can't wait to see how the city has changed since 2006. Will I be devoured by mopeds as always, or will my taxi from the airport have to yield to Maseratis, Mercedes, and Rolls Royces? Can't wait to see.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Well, I'm starting my journey to Viet Nam quite early. First it's Phoenix to LAX, then to Singapore via Tokyo and then I'll groggily board my final plane to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). I leave on a Tuesday morning and arrive into Saigon on Thursday at lunchtime. At that point I'll gladly trade in coffee and jet fuel for a big steaming bowl of Pho.
We are attending our nephew's wedding over the weekend. It'll be nice to see friends and family. We then pack up and head on to Japan via Singapore. We've always wanted to visit Japan. The bright lights of Tokyo and cool, cultural Kyoto await.
Hope you can all come along...Stay tuned.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
- Five new skyscrapers (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 WTC)
- National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
- World Trade Center Transportation Hub
- Retail Complex
- Performing Arts Center