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A few of the interesting people I met in Vietnam
There are many other interesting people in my Journal however a few did not get into the Journal or required more explanation.


The little Girl in the gutter
A rose, a lady of the evening and a coconut girl
Ly - and the motorcycle
Ty - a nice young lady?


The Little Girl in the gutter

There are things I see that I wish I had not seen and things I know that I wish I did not have to know. On the way home from the zoo I came to an intersection and there was this beautiful little girl in the gutter. She was sitting in the water shivering with a cup in front of her. People would drop a little money in the cup and she would pick it out and put it down her shirt, in a very mechanical manner, hardly looking up. Many saw her at the last moment and swerved to avoid hitting her. I don't know if a truck could see her when the motorcycles were stopped near her. There was nothing to do. She belonged to someone so she could not be taken. To even place her on the curb where she would be safer might cause the anger of the one who owns her. At this moment I wonder if she is still alive. Her life is so empty. One day she will die. Few will know and even fewer will care.

A few blocks later I was on Nguyen Hue where all the well to do tourists were buying the correct wine for dinner and the right dress to show off back home, getting a little taste of Saigon carefully guided so as not to see anything unpleasant.

A few blocks further the schools of those with position. Their children are schooled behind 8-foot high walls topped with barbed wire to keep the world out. Picked up by a car, sent so they will not have to be on the streets.

Something is very wrong here. I am afraid we will all have to answer for this one day.


A rose, a lady of the evening and a coconut girl

Early in my trip I went into the park between the Rex Hotel and the Opera House. When I first saw Ty she wanted me to buy a coconut. I try to buy something from the children who sell on the streets, however I explained that I do not like coconuts. She did the usual pouting but eventually she gave up and smiled. We talked for a while.
There is an adorable little girl, named Chau, in front of the Rex Hotel with a basket of roses that she is selling. She has a beautiful smile and a very good pout. On my second trip into the park I stopped and bought a rose from her. I went into the park and saw Ty. She was serving a coconut to a customer. She saw me and when she was done she started towards me. As she approached I took the rose from behind my back and held it out. When she saw it she ran to me and hugged me. I gave her the rose and it made her so happy that she put it in her cooler. As her friends came by she would get the rose out and show it to each of them. We were pretty close after that, still I did not like coconuts. One evening I was sitting in the park when a lady of the evening came and sat with me and began talking. All the children who sell in the park came and started talking. Ty came by and looked upset. She did not smile but walked to the other side of the park and sat down. I went over and asked her what was wrong. She said "That is not a nice lady". I said "She sat with me and we were only talking". "I was not going to go with her." Ty said "You should not even talk to her". It was late and I went back to the hotel. A few nights later I was in the park and the same lady of the evening came, sat down and began talking to me again. The children came over and Ty came by. This time she looked angry and turned her head away quickly. I knew she did not like me talking to the lady but did not realize how upset she was till I got up to leave and Ty walked from where she was to the corner of the park where I would have to pass her on my way back to the hotel. As I passed her I look at her and when she looked up I could see she had been crying. I told her again that I was only talking to the lady and that I would not go with her. She said she understood. I told her that I was sorry that I had made her sad. She said that was all right. I asked her if she would forgive me. She smiled and said she would. After that when I walked in the park I did not sit down till I saw Ty. The lady would not come over when I was sitting with Ty. I think Ty had made her feelings known to the lady


Ly (pronounced Lee)

As a man walking alone down a street in Saigon you will be approached by, on average, 1 lady of the evening for every two blocks. One such young lady, named Ly, rode up behind me on her motor cycle and asked, and I will paraphrase this' "Hey, do you want to (have meaningless intimate relations with) me?" I looked around and there was this sweet, angelic, innocent face. My first thought was to ask "Did you see who said that?" but I knew it was she. I am told you can get rid of these people by calling them names or yelling at them. Since I can do neither I said, "No, thank you". She said "$20.00?" I said "No thank you". She said "$10.00?" I said "No thank you". She said "150,000 VND?"($10.00 US). I said "No thank you". She said "100,000 VND?"($6.70 US). I said "No thank you" and went back to looking in store windows. She rode away.

About 20 minutes later and 8 or 10 blocks away I heard a motor cycle running slowly behind me. It was she, looking all dejected. She said "100,000VND?" I said, "no, thank you". She said "100,000 VND, for one hour?" There was a lot of the city I wished to see and a cab would cost about that. A man on a cycle would cost a less, but who wants to hold on to a man. I stepped down off the curb and asked "100,000?" She said, "Yes". I asked "for one hour". She said, "Yes". I said, "ok, 100,000 for one hour and you will drive me around?" She said "I drive you around to hotel?" I said "no, no hotel, drive around." She said "ok, no hotel, we go to my house?" I said "no, no hotel, no house, you drive me around town". She said, "drive around town?" I said, "Yes". She smiled and patted the back of the motor cycle seat and I got on. She asked where I wanted to go, I showed her the areas and off we went. As we rode I noticed that people would look at her like she was dirt. I would lean and look around and she was smiling. At intersections she would pull up far enough so that she did not have to see their faces as she waited for the light to change. We rode around and covered the areas that I really wanted to see, then she asked where now. I said, "let's go out by the zoo". Off we went again. It was dark and as we were coming back from the zoo there were floodlights. Someone was filming something. She was looking back at the filming and only glancing occasionally at the traffic. The light turned red. I pointed but she was not looking. I waved my hand in front of her face and pointed. She glanced at the red light and back at the filming. As we entered the intersection the traffic had begun to move so she leaned the motor cycle to the left and went into the on coming traffic. At that moment the thought in my mind had nothing to do with us getting killed or even that I might break a leg and ruin my vacation. My only thought was how embarrassed Susan will be when the story is in the Intelligencer, "Local man killed in Saigon, in motor cycle accident with prostitute". The traffic parted and we did survive. It had now been well over an hour. She drove me back to the place where she picked me up. I got off and she asked me where my hotel was. I said over there some where, making a gesture. She said, "you call a cab?" I said "no I will walk". She said, "I will call a cab?" I said "no, I will walk, I like walking." She said, "I will pay for cab." That was so nice since it would have cost a good part of what I had given her. I said, "no, I will walk" She smiled and put the cycle in gear. She looked over her shoulder to see if the traffic was clear. I touched her arm. She took the motor cycle out of gear and put her hand on mine. After a moment she smiled and said, "I will see you tomorrow". I said, "we will see", though I knew I would not. She put it in gear and pulled out into traffic.

Sometimes you can make people happy without giving them anything. All you have to do is not take something away.


Ty (pronounced Tea)
(Not the same Ty as in the story of the coconut girl)

A young lady, named Ty, came up and asked me if I wanted to go to the hotel. I said no, thank you and we went through the normal exchange of fees and services, as I repeated "no, thank you", "no, thank you", "no, thank you". She was wearing a short white dress with a lot of lace and was so pretty. She had nice legs and a lovely figure. Most of all she had a really pretty face, a face like an angel, long black shiny hair and beautiful dark bright eyes. When she accepted that I was not interested we talked for a while. As I got up from the curb and said good bye a man approached me and asked if I wanted a girl. I said "no, if I wanted one I would have gone with her". He laughed and said "that is not a girl". I saw her around town after that, she would slow down and say hello and see if I had changed my mind. Others told me the same thing about her, but still, I would not bet money on this one.

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