Disorientation

Leaving the international terminal at Bangkok's airport and arriving in Ho Chi Minh City's delivers the jarring contrast and other-world feel we expected upon our arrival in Southeast Asia. A short hop on a little plane takes us away from the Guccis, Tod's, people-movers, and abundant overpriced airport restaurant selections bearing a surprising resemblance to Charles de Gaulle International and into the drabbly-painted, aging bunker of an immigration area where our visas bought in the US are no good and there is no reasoning. The plane-load of people feels like a tiny handful in the huge space and there are no lines. The hall echoes. A fifty gets us two shiny new visas from the barely twenty-something in military green behind the expansive glass. The humid heat outside is stifling. We shuffle through to the one-room terminal. There is a snack stand on one side stocked with Oreos, Coke, Pringles, garish under the fluorescents. It is exactly the clicheed scene you would put in a movie to encapsulate communism today, except perhaps for the half-dozen iPhones in the hands of Vietnamese families around us. Is this a look at our next 9 days?