Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Good Mid-Morning Vietnam!

We dragged ourselves outside at 5am to our waiting taxi and thanks to the early hour we had a clear run to the airport. We weren’t expecting to have to pay for all the tolls on the way, but we didn’t argue, but then once inside the airport we discovered that the driver had also given us the wrong change so it made us question whether paying the tolls was normal or he was also rorting us will that as well. Then, when checking our pockets before going through costums, Sarah discovered she still had the room key in her pocket, so it wasn’t the best start to the morning, but at least we’d made our flight…

Our very first phô in Vietman!
We spent the last of our Thai money on overpriced donuts for breakfast and then we were on our way to Vietnam, somewhere we’d both been looking forward to visiting for years. Getting the visa was fairly straightforward upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh airport and so 20 minutes later after paying $50 we were on our way to Ben Thanh Market on bus number 152. From there it was a fairly short walk to our hotel, Giang Son 2, which was we discovered to be a great place for the price. 

As soon as we’d showered we went to find lunch and had hardly gone far before discovering a great beef phở, which would be the first of many to come over the next three weeks. Our plan for the arvo was to follow the LP walking tour around Ho Chi Minh City and since one of the places to see was the old Post Office so also figured that we could send our room key back while we were sight-seeing. 

Reunification Palace
We stopped mid-arvo for a Vietnamese coffee which gave us so much of a combined caffeine and sugar hit that we had enough energy to also go and visit the Reunification Palace once we’d finished the LP tour. The palace was very impressive, with rooms that looked like they belonged in the 70’s and 80’s, many of which contained interesting décor and objects left over from the war period. It was a shortish walk from the palace to visit the very sobering War Remnant’s Museum which gave us a very real account, mainly through photography, of the horror that war brings to both sides – we left feeling upset and in shock at the disgusting violence that the people involved had dealt out and endured. 

Some remnants left in the Palace...
We walked back to our district trying to shake the bad feelings that remained after visiting the museum. We chanced upon a great cheap café for dinner and sampled our first Saigon beers – which were similar to Singha - so in other words excellent, especially in the heat. After dinner we booked a tour to go and visit the Củ Chi tunnels and Cao Ðài See Temple. After a fair bit of research and hunting around we had chosen to book with the Lac Hong tour company as they were by far the cheapest we’d seen; we just hoped that this wouldn’t be a reflection on the quality, time would tell…

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