October 2010
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Fireballs and Diabetes


My dad's gift to me

My dad must really love me.  He gave me the gift to poop fire and develop severe diabetes when he arrived in Saigon last night :).  I believe I had mentioned in one of my older posts that my dad is a Buddhist Monk.  Actually he’s a Doctor/Monk.  He stills runs his medical practice in full monk regalia during the week and holds Buddhist services at his temple in San Antonio during the weekends.  Regardless of his current position as doctor/monk….I still view him as just my dad.  And he doesn’t treat me much differently now than he did before he joined the monkhood.  My father is in Vietnam to  escort a younger Vietnamese monk (who he is sponsoring) back to the U.S. to help him run his temple.   He is getting up there in age so I guess he wants to make sure that his temple will be in capable hands in the future by bringing over a young monk that he can groom to be his successor.

I haven’t seen my father or anyone in my family for over 9 months now, so it was nice to see him.  He looked the same as last I saw him…much younger than his 72 years of age.  The poor guy and the nun who was accompanying him had the most luggage I’ve ever seen 2 people travel with.  I think they had 10 suitcases between them….of which 2 were for me.  I had ordered a new laptop and a bunch of other stuff and requested that he bring them over for me.  Yeah, I could have bought a nice laptop in Vietnam, but I think the prices over here are at least 20% higher than in the States.

So where do the Kit Kats and the 15 lbs of Jalapenos come into play?  Well you can blame Twitter on that….

I’ve learned a lot of stuff about Vietnam just by following  the conversations in the Vietnam Twitter community in the past month.  I kinda regret that I waited so long to setup an account.  There are a lot of expats and native Vietnamese on Twitter with years and years of experience of living and doing business in Vietnam, and they have had to deal with so many issues that I haven’t yet needed to consider, i.e. visa issues, work permits, starting a business, etc.  I have learned a lot of things that I think will be useful for my future business venture and I am grateful for the Vietnam Twitter community for generously sharing their knowledge with me.

Getting back to the issue of the Jalapenos and Kit Kats….one of the most amazing pieces of information I learned on Twitter is that there is a Popeye’s in Saigon!   For those who don’t know….Popeye’s is a pretty popular fast food chain for fried chicken in the United States.  Personally I like “Church’s” fried chicken a little bit more than “Popeye’s” but beggars can’t be choosers….and Popeye’s makes some pretty damn good fried chicken anyways.  I have been dying for  good fried chicken for awhile and yet my search for it in Saigon had so far been in vain.  Yes, there are plenty of places in Vietnam that sell fried chicken…but they range from disgusting to just plain bad.  Kentucky Fried Chicken is a pretty big American fast food chain in itself…but I’ve never liked their chicken much.  So when I found out that there was Popeye’s in the new Vincom shopping center in District 1, I had to go check it out for myself.

A few weeks ago I suggested to my friend Tu that we head out to Vincom to check out the new shopping complex…but I just really wanted to find out if there truly was a Popeye’s in Saigon.  Vincom is located near the Parkson shopping center in District 1 and is just a couple of blocks away from the Saigon Opera House and Notre Dame Cathedral. The inside of Vincom is beautifully modern with a lot of high end clothing, jewelry and furniture stores occupying the 7 retail floors .  You might be hard pressed to figure out that you weren’t in a upscale shopping mall somewhere in the West if you didn’t see all the Asians walking around.  It’s definitely the nicest shopping mall I’ve been to in Vietnam.  The interior layout of the floors however were badly designed in my opinion.  Large spaces would often funnel into narrow hallways that would then open up into other areas.  Many spaces just felt disconnected from others and then there is the issue of the elevators.  There are a ton of them….but they don’t all go to the same places.  Some only go up…and  some only go down.  It took awhile for Tu and I to find the elevators that could take us to the basement parking area.  I’ve been told similar stories by other shoppers so it’s not just me.

In the end, I did find Popeye’s.  I think it is on the lowest retail level however I can’t remember for sure.  And although I was very happy to see that the rumors of a Popeye’s was true, I had no intention of eating any fried chicken at that time.  I had already predicted that even if there was a Popeye’s, there was very little chance that it they would also serve Jalapenos.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I grew up eating fried chicken with Jalapeno peppers.  Fried chicken is just not very good to me without those spicy, slightly sour green peppers.  Not the super fresh kind that you buy in the vegetable section of the supermarket, but the pickled kind they sell in the cans.  Most of the fried chicken places in Texas sell Jalapenos, but it was not as common to find them when I was living up north in Indiana for a few years.    Even so, you could always find them in the American supermarkets and so I usually had a few cans in my cupboard at any particular time.  I haven’t had any Jalapenos since I’ve been in Vietnam.  Once when I went to lunch at Mogambo’s with Saigon in a Cup’s other resident blogger Tuna, she ordered some cheesy entree that came with a lot of green peppers the restaurant insisted was Jalapenos, but tasted nothing like it.  Apparently there is a grocery store in Saigon called Veggy’s that does carry Jalapenos and Dr. Pepper and Ranch Dressing (two other things I miss!!)….which I also found about on Twitter from @eds_m and @ericburdette.  But since my dad was coming to Saigon soon anyways, I figured he could just bring me a can of real Texas grown Jalapenos.  I didn’t want to risk ruining my first taste of delicious fried chicken with inferior Jalapenos so I decided to diligently wait for my father to bring me the goods.

I was expecting him to bring me a single 1 lb can, which would last me for awhile.  Instead he brought me two jumbo 6 pound cans in addition to the 3 smaller one pound cans.    And to top it off, he also got me 10 packages of my favorite candy in the world….Kit Kat!  He didn’t realize that Kit Kats can be easily found in Vietnam….which I know better than anyone else :).  So damn you Twitter!!   Now I’m going to poop out fire and most likely lose a leg just because I found out there is a Popeye’s in Saigon!!

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