I will always remember my very special Vietnamese New Year in Saigon, Vietnam, in 2001. My friends Lily Tran, Vi Nguyen and Hong Nguyen decided that I should not spend New Year's Day alone. I really never felt lonely and homesick because I loved living in Vietnam, but my friends were always very thoughtful people, and they liked to take care of me, a stranger in their land. They decided to plan a trip to the Saigon Water Park, about half hour's drive from Saigon, and Vietnam New year dinner afterward. As hard as I tried to love the day as much as they hoped I would, I didn't. Actually, I had come down with a cold and wasn't feeling very well, but not for anything would I ever let them know how I was really feeling. At the time, it seemed like a very ling day, but now it is one of my fondest, and funniest, memories.
The day began early in the morning with all four of pilling into the back of a very small, very old van, a kind of poor man's taxi. These taxis were the cheapest form of transportation. The drive to the Saigon Water Park reminded me of "Mr. William's Wild Ride- at Disneyland. The driver drove very fast, and there were no shock absorbers, so we all bounced around in the back of the van like popcorn, our heads often hitting the ceiling because there were no seatbelts to keep us in our seats! I remember the driver speeding into and out of traffic circles. He used only two part of the van "the gas pedal and the horn! When we got up into the Saigon Water Park, he passed other cars, and I just knew there was a semi truck around every corner! My friends noticed none of this because they don't drive cars and trust drivers like Americans trust pilots. They happily ate noodles with chopsticks and had a great time. Most of my noodles wound up on the ceiling!.
It was really great when we arrived at the Saigon Water Park, which water around the park. I just wanted to stand there and look at the beautiful park, but I soon realized that we were all going to spend the day swimmy.