Friday, February 3, 2017


About half way down the road from Saigon to Can Tho there's a blessed escape from the fumes and traffic. Except the ones who need it most - scooters and their face masked riders - aren't there. They're pulled over at one of the many thatched roof retreats with hammocks, rough seating, and food stalls

This one is mainly the domain of buses, SUVs, and taxi services.

Getting on and off the road with its swarming scooters isn't all that easy, but here there's actually a man with a flag to help a bit.

It's a large complex of gardens, variously sized dining areas, conveniences style shops, and rest rooms.

And in the midst of all this there was a small stall with a handsome young man with the gentlest of auras.

My guess was he was selling script. We exchanged smiles. "How much?" was the obvious question. "No money. Write name. No money" he said softly, pushing forward a pen and a page with names scribbled all over it. I wrote my first (and only my first) name in block letters. Taking a clean black white sheet of paper, he then slowly wrote my name, smiling again as he handed it to me. I was very taken with all this, thanked him, and wandered off to find K, waving the sheet to dry the thick black ink.

I just had to go back that way and eschewing embarrassment, haltingly asked if I could take his photo. He beamed, mainly with his eyes, adjusted his posture, folded his arms, sat up straight and looked deep into the (I-phone) camera.

I showed him the shot. He smiled, and said something three times before i could grasp what it was - "Facebook*?" "No, sorry. I don't do Facebook".

With that, he silently took another blank page, and carefully wrote what looks to me quite clearly the first letter of my surname. 

And smiled again.

* Facebook is banned in Vietnam.

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