I’ve been taking the kids to various parks to get them out of the apartment and to occupy our days in Saigon while Tom works away in Long Khanh. On Sunday Tom joined us in Saigon and we took them to the local amusement park, Dam Sen. Like other VN recreational facilities for children, Dam Sen is creepy. Almost every time we take the kids somewhere in VN geared towards them, the garish colors, tacky designs, and freakish characters make me appreciate places like Disneyland and how beautifully they create kid-friendly environments. Not so much at Dam Sen. As soon as we entered the park, a person dressed in a weird bee costume posed impassively as kids and adults approached and took pictures. It was neither cute nor whimsical, only bizarre.
The good thing about Dam Sen is that even on a busy Saturday, lines and wait times for rides were nowhere near as long as they are at Disneyland. Tom attributed this to the fact that VN people are highly susceptible to motion sickness and therefore too chicken to go on any rides other than non-threatening kiddie ones. I’ve always prided myself on being a bit of a thrill seeker and speed demon, so I readily agreed to accompany a younger cousin on the scariest ride at the park, a giant vessel that swung back and forth until it gained enough velocity to flip entirely upside down in a full circle. I’ve seen versions of this ride countless times although I couldn’t remember the last time I ever participated. As we were waiting in line, I couldn’t help but take note of the grimy condition of the equipment and wonder when the ride was last inspected and if it had ever received maintenance service. With my luck it was sure to malfunction while I was on it. Fortunately, it didn’t malfunction but it taught me a valuable lesson: I am no spring chicken and my days of voluntarily subjecting myself to getting jerked around at breakneck speeds are behind me. The ride was fun for about ten seconds but my initial reaction of “WHEE! I’m still youthful and spontaneous!” quickly morphed into “okay, this is getting to be less fun” and then into “this is not so fun anymore” into “OMG is this ride going to last forever???” into “I think I’m going to be sick” into “I’M GOING TO DIE!!! GET ME OFF THIS FUCKING RIDE BEFORE I SPEW!!!!” I swear that ride felt like it lasted for hours. When I finally disembarked, wobbly and nauseous, I pretended to be fine because I wanted to demonstrate to my relatives that American women are strong, adventurous, and superior to wimpy VN women. In reality it took me a good half hour to recover but I really haven’t been the same since. I think from now on we’ll be sticking to slides and swings at the local park playground.