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Our five nights at Guilin Ming Garden were great as well! It is certainly our favorite place in China. The apartment is remodeled, extremely clean and has a great view; having internet access is a nice touch and there is plenty of room for our entire family. After a long day of fun, it was relaxing to come home to delicious home cooked meals prepared by our nanny Mrs Huang.She made us feel right at home with her traditional Cantonese home cooked dinners: her normal dinner consist of soup, two meat dishes and two vegetable dishes; very much like the meals our Cantonese parents made for us when we were younger and the meals had brought back fond memories.
-Helen Lee

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Vietnam October 2010 Trip Highlights

by Lea Xu

Louie and I took a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia during the National holiday last month.   This trip just he and I went and accompanied some other three couples from Chicago, Florida and New York.  It has been a long time since I traveled without kids, so this trip was relaxing and very much enjoyable with our fine travel companions. I am sharing some brief highlights here of our time.

Our first city in Vietnam was Saigon and it‘s a great place to start. Saigon has very westernized parts of the city and it is more or less like Shanghai for China.  One of the first nights there, we went to a local restaurant; it was a lovely little, open-air restaurant which was family run. It is one of those places where you can watch people cook everything. And they served it all, crab, frog legs, you name it --- my favorite was frog legs.   It’s all simple, nothing fancy and just very tasty. The atmosphere was friendly and homey.  It was raining, we were squeezed under the tent and drink beers.  Our guide and the restaurant owner played guitar and sang songs for us – “I love you more than I can say.”   It reminded me of many similar outside restaurants in China.

The next evening we went to a local bar (I haven’t been in a bar in years, maybe 20 years or soJ ).  Once we walked into the bar, it felt like we had been transported to Shanghai or New York.  There were mostly foreigners there and the bar attendants were very tall, beautiful Vietnamese college girls.  We were getting lots of attention, so our friend Michael who is an investment banker from NY joked that he knew he could not be in NY, because he could not get bar attendant’s attention there.  The first day we stopped in at a little coffee shop and there were full of business people talking.  Some were dressed in business suits and working on laptops.  Ten years ago, when I first watched the Broadway show Miss Saigon while visiting NY; I always wanted to visit Saigon.   I did it today and love the beautiful Miss Saigon in Vietnam and the county.

Even though Vietnam is a socialist country, it is hard to tell that now.  One of our traveling companions met up with a local family who are associated with their son’s business partner in Vietnam.  This Vietnamese family is quite wealthy and had a very large home and   gardens with many luxuries.  The wife is a teacher and the husband is a doctor.  They send their daughter to private school, the children speak fluent English.  This was a surprise to some members in our group, but Vietnam is definitely growing quickly to become modernized. There is still poverty as well, but I hope it grows in such a way as to allow for a middle class and provide opportunities for many others.  Saigon looks like it will provide a very good opportunity for that.
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