Vibrant Vietnam - 2007

His two little daughters, about 4 and 8, came out to shyly stare at us and smile when addressed by their father. There were several dogs sleeping or nosing us while we stood in his yard. We saw no wife or lady of the house but we suspect that she was keeping to herself in the recesses of one of his outbuildings. The whole scene was melancholy and disheartening. But we reminded ourselves that this man was making a living for himself from tourists which the government did not forbid him to do, very much as Phong An was doing in Hue. He is living outside the government’s purview and approval but not running afoul of the law. We wished him well and left his dreary compound sorry that he was so reduced in circumstances with apparently very little chance of his status changing. W RAP - UP The monsoon had discovered us again when we left Mr. Cuong’s compound. Rain was sheeting in from every direction so our planned walk about the hotel area was forsaken. Instead we decided to enjoy our luxurious hotel rooms at the Park Hyatt Hotel, which we actually had not seen yet since we had arrived before check-in time in the morning. Unfortunately, an unhappy glitch awaited us. Even though it was now 5 o’clock, we were informed that the former occupant of our intended room had not yet returned to the hotel to check out. We were also told that she had a sick child and they did not know if she had taken him to a hospital or just what was going on. She had been seen leaving the hotel at 8:30 AM 66

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