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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Ho Chi Minh City – the chicken never got to cross the road

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 7 June 2011 | Views [1835]

On your marks!!

On your marks!!

Destination – Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon if you prefer) – the chicken never got to cross the road

So, we say ciao to Hoi An and catch our 1pm train to Saigon. As karma has it, we share a cabin with a couple and 3 (not 1, not 2, but 3) little kids. Well, after settling in, we find out they are nice and cool kids. And they think we are pretty cool too as we are presented with some hardcore colourful chewing gum straight away from our new little mate. The father is a doctor specializing in tropical diseases and speaks English really well. The mother is an accountant and seriously sleep-deprived due to the 3 little ones.  He works with malaria and we, of course, take the opportunity for a free consultation in relation to Cambodia and Laos. We really get on with the kids and the father even asks Paul to “scare” the little one to sleep, by pointing a finger, making a scary face and growling something in Vietnamese. Paul does it very expertly and even I get a bit scared, the little one cries for a good 30 minutes then falls asleep. It worked!

So, all is well and they leave the train at around 7PM, just to be quickly replaced, at the same station, by another mother with 2 little ones. On top of it, mom is an English teacher and wants to get a free conversation class from us. Tell me about instant karma! Anyway, the kids are not too bad and once we can get mom to stop talking and interrogating us, we all can get a nice night's sleep. We arrive in Saigon at 5am and take a taxi to the Green Suites Hotel. Again, not too bad and again, Vietnam really knows what the tourists want. No wonder the place is pumping with all kinds of tourists, even the bad kind.  

It’s unbelievable the number of restaurants in this city, so much great food everywhere. We eat more street food than a stray dog. We also, for a change, walk around a lot – sometimes up to 6 hours a day - and see lots of interesting stuff. We go to Chinatown, to the Ben Thanh markets, pagodas, to the Reunification Palace, and of course, to the very moving War Remnants Museum. The museum has a great collection of wartime photos by the most amazing photo journalists from all over the also and also a very moving exhibition on the aftermath of “agent orange” on the local people. We also go on a successful quest and find the “lunch lady”, Saigon’s arguably best and cheapest street food.

We go to an enormous very hip shopping centre seeking and find the best food court ever in the cosmos and have lunch in 3 different restaurants. Unbelievable!  Then, we try to catch a movie at their Multiplex but the good ones we want to watch are sold out even for the next day. The traffic is bloody insane with millions of scooters coming from left, right and centre, however you always manage to cross even the busiest road. Just go slowly but surely, do not hesitate or make any sudden moves and the scooters will gently (sort of) go around you.

We apply for a visa extension and pay a fortune because we got our visa in China and there are currently some problems between China and Vietnam over sea borders. We finally get it and we head off for Phu Quoc Island. Ciao Saigon. We really enjoy our time in Saigon, though we have to say we still think Hanoi is somehow a gentler city (with better food).

 

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