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Terri 1-4-10 Hanoi to HCMinh City

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 26 April 2010 | Views [305]

Despite confirming the time of our pick up by a Hostel vehicle the night before, we were left waiting in the cool darkness worrying about getting to the airport on time. We were told that the vehicle was booked later than what we had requested and to top it off was a little late. Just before it arrived, Adrian was walking around in the dark trying to get a taxi at a fair price but they knew we were desperate and weren’t willing to negotiate much. The hostel worker that was waiting with us had words with the driver when he arrived but I think they were not in disapproval but  more along the lines of, “take your time as these guys have been impatient and whining!” And so our slow trip to the airport began. We shared a few words asking him to go a little faster but he didn’t seem/choose to understand us. He was in a daydream looking around and when on the highway was driving around 60-80 k’s in a 100 zone. Adrian gave me a look to let me know not to say anything more as it was achieving nothing. We arrived at the airport much later than we were comfortable with, as our driver had stopped along the way to purchase breakfast – cigarettes- and have a chat wit the stall holder. As we left the vehicle, Adrian said to go inside and line up. He followed, as did the driver as he hadn’t been paid yet. In line, Adrian advised him that we wouldn’t be paying until we had our boarding passes as we didn’t want to miss our flight. He huffed and paced around in circles concerned that he was going to get nothing or maybe a parking fine. Adrian’s payback was to make him wait but we did give him his money for the service after everything was sorted. He was not happy! A little disorganised we went through security and realised we had cutlery including an army knife in our hand luggage! In less than five minutes I ran back with my daypack and checked it in with the prohibited items. I managed it one minute before the desk closed. From then on, it was an incident free trip back to the sweltering, humid heat of HCMinh.

Upon arrival we looked out for a local bus that would take us to the Ben Tanh/ backpacker district and easily found one.  Bus 152 was absurdly cheap at around 25cents for an adult, comfortable and quick. Why would you pay nearly $10 for a taxi? It conveniently stopped opposite the Ben Tanh markets so we proceeded to look for a hotel in the vicinity. After stopping for lunch and fresh fruit shakes, we returned to Madam Cuc where the helpful and friendly staff found us a room at a guesthouse opposite Madam Cuc 127 as they were fully booked. They obviously have deals with local hotels. We were given a larger room at a cheaper price and it still included all the benefits of staying at 127. We were able to get hot and cold drinks any time of day were given breakfasts and dinners if wanted and were treated like royalty! Madam Cuc herself, happy to see the children again, handed out free drinks and fruit to Nim and Ash to take with them for the day.

We put our faith in the recommendations of LP once more and headed to “Pho Quynh” at 323 Pham Ngu Lao. Meals were under $2 and delicious as they came with all the sides that the Western or upmarket places seem to leave out. Adrian and I had Pho (soup) with thin tender beef strips while the children shared a beef and vegetable casserole served with two baguettes. We had a lovely chat to a middle aged German who had been travelling on and off around Vietnam and Cambodia for a couple of decades. He highly recommended visiting Rabbit Island in Cambodia, as had a few other travellers we’d met along the way. It was refreshing to promenade the fairy lit district in the cooler evening hours. Like many Asian countries at night, the shops are open late, there is a hive of activity and it feels both safe and serene window shopping the night away.

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