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Terri: HCM City 2/4/10

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 26 April 2010 | Views [381]

After enjoying the chunky berry jam on warm baguettes at Madam Cuc 127 along with fresh coffee, lemon juice and bananas, we went to explore the Backpacker district that we had missed last time although we were right on the fringe of it. The backpacker ghetto at Pham Ngu Lao is the place to hang out with cheaper beer and food, colourful scenes and diverse shops.  I spent a lot of time in a shop called “Sapa” that had ethnic inspired clothing. After trying on a lot of garments, I walked out empty handed unsure of what to purchase. I did return the next day to buy a long top with patches of ethnic weaving but transporting you into the future now, I must tell you that many of the woven threads unravelled in its first gentle wash cycle at home.  At $30 AUD Australian, it wasn’t a wonderful buy. The boutique store “Song” had gorgeous linen and cotton outfits at a much greater price tag but they looked professionally finished and probably worth the extra money. Back to the 2/4/10! We continued our walk to the Fine Arts Museum of Saigon where the whines of both Asher and Adrian (objective to the boring gallery) altered my mood to appreciate fine art. However, their disinterest and Nim’ constant request to read the details for every piece couldn’t distract from the alluring collection. There were countless exhibits from the past few centuries depicting war and conflict which I found enlightening as we had not immersed ourselves in the touristy war sites of Vietnam. Along with some modern fine art, furniture and historical collections, there were numerous galleries that were a pleasure to inspect but unfortunately out of our budget.  The picturesque museum is large and needs a fair amount of your time. Hungry, we searched for another LP food recommendation, only to find (after thinking we were lost) that the restaurant had moved. Luckily, a man approached us and told us where it now was. As we approached, we realised that it was the same restaurant we had visited with Andre, Simone and Elijah on our first night in Vietnam! “Quan An Ngon” offers a large variety of street foods in a tropical, resort-like setting. It is a peaceful, relaxing and cooling escape from the streets of the city. You can walk around the perimeter and watch the vendors prepare meals in order to make your choice or select from the extensive menu. A little more expensive than street food, it is still cheap and of good quality. Between us we had rice paper rolls, Vietnamese salads, a chicken and vegetable casserole as well as drinks. They were all delicious. Adrian ordered his own meal which was described as a crab, tofu and pork soup with lemongrass and so forth. When it arrived it was dominated by a deep red jelly floating in the centre. I suggested it was the colour of blood and when Adrian asked the waiter – it was the pork- the pork’s blood. Adrian quickly moved it to a side plate and wished he had ordered differently.  We ordered some sweets to share including a coconut, jelly and bean drink and a red banana cake. All of these delights came to under $15 AUD.  On the way back to our hotel, Adrian and Asher bought the same T-shirt with the slogan “Saigon Online” and decorated with a print of a typical scene of the electrical cables in Saigon. In the early evening Andre whizzed past our hotel after work, to pick us up and take us back to his family’s apartment. They were on the top floor in a spacious 3 bedroom, unusually well decorated dwelling for Vietnam. The views towards the city included many stately expat homes complete with pools and high security fences -it was interesting to see how the more fortunate lived in this diverse country. As we all walked down the street to go to Elijah’s favourite restaurant, the street lights went off and upon arrival at the eatery we were told they had no generator so we hailed a taxi and headed out of District 2 and back to central District 1 for a delicious Indian meal at “Ganesh” on Le Than Ton Street (number 15B4). The prices, although higher than many places in Vietnam, were much cheaper than home and the service and quality was pleasing. This place is also recommended for those in the area! Their business card indicates they also have restaurants in Mui Ne, Hoi An and on Phu Quoc Island! If you’re with kids and leaving late, watch out for the red light business next door although the area felt safe and we walked the majority of the way home until Nim started to sleep walk! We hailed a taxi to save us another 10-15 minutes of dragging her along and then retired- content with our tummies full with a day’s worth of scrumptious food.  

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