With a super easy flight and a 10,000 dong (30p) bus to our hotel Vietnam already had a tick in my box. At the guesthouse we were greeted by an old woman in her pyjamas who gestured for us to take our shoes off and without even asking our names showed us to our room. The location was great and we stepped right out into the heart of the backpacker’s area.
I can safely say I’ve never seen so many mopeds in my life! The bus journey from the airport gave us a glimpse of this but until you step out onto the street yourself and try to cross a road you really won’t get the craziness. Luckily having skimmed through a guide to Vietnam I had read “the mopeds won’t ever hit you so keep walking, close your eyes and you will make it to the other side.” This became easier every time we crossed even with most peds carrying 2, 3 or 4 people and drivers on their phones.
With happy hours extending to pretty much the whole day we took a rest at the nearest drinking hole, got some cold Saigon’s and the obligatory (and highly addictive) spring rolls whilst watching the busy street life.
Waking to a cloudy sky we had a heavy day of exploring planned. Cho Ben Thanh marketplace was first on the list and busy doesn’t begin to describe it. Fresh fruit smoothies gave us the energy to and head on to the War remnants museum which was a great place to see some of the tanks and helicopters left here after the war along with some of the terrible things America did to this beautiful country and it’s people.
Heading to Quan An Ngon after the museum for a bite to eat was a strike of genius by me and we had the best spring rolls ever! The place is made up of a few different food stalls under one roof so you’re spoilt for choice. More exploring took us onto the very impressive central post office, which was a big attraction and we sent a xmas card back home.
Wondering around Saigon we found a small area not for cars or bikes and made the most of it by taking some snaps of it’s many skyscrapers and unique buildings. With a dark cloud looming over every photo we moved on and luckily found a small street with a great little wine bar (Brix Wine Bar), something that Ro had been craving ever since we had left. The rain started it’s onslaught and continued to get harder as soon we clinked our first glass so we stayed until it died down.
As soon as happy hour and the rain had stopped almost in unison we headed back and accompanied with a couple of Saigon’s we did some people watching from a rooftop.
Hung-over and very tired from walking the day before we gathered ourselves in a long lay in and then got ready to take the long journey to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The journey there and back was about 4 hours but this was made so entertaining by our guide Son who was so upbeat and seemed to only want to talk directly to me and Ro. The tunnels are worth the trip and I couldn’t get over how resourceful the people of this small village were during the war.
At the end of the tour we were sent into a tunnel that had been adapted for westerner tourist to get a sense of what it was like. Everyone had to crawl on their hands and knees despite this and in reality soldiers would have done this for days at a time in 45 degree heat.
On the way back to our hotel Son sang us some traditional Vietnamese songs with his portable Karaoke microphone/speaker to make the time fly by.
Hungry and tired we found a rooftop for dinner and Face timed a sober Mel, a very welcome face from home. The bus back to the airport ran as smoothly as it had and we really want to return one day.