Sunday, 8 June 2014

Day 1 - Saigon - Finding Our Feet

Hello from a bus to Can Tho. I was meant to post last night but was too tired after our 18 hour day. I am foreseeing a pattern of writing my posts while traveling and then uploading them later. I'm glad I have a keyboard that I swipe instead of typing letters for it is remarkably bumpy for a highway.

But more of that later. We woke up on the floor of the airport with our belongings and bodies intact and grabbed breakfast before setting off for the gate or next flight was at. We thought we'd given it plenty of time but by the time we got there everyone was boarding. After a flustered time sitting on the floor in the middle of the line trying to get all my liquids out for the scan, we made it on the plane.

The flight was uneventful but trouble set in when we got to Vietnam and I realized I had left our visa approval letter at home. I was kicking myself as we hurried to turn our phones on to buy data to find the email containing the letter, watching as the crowded waiting area emptied. Finally we were the last ones there and in a weird twist, got given our visas before we'd even filled in the application forms.

We found our allocated taxi driver, who was grumpy at having to wait for us, and made it to the hostel. It's quite nice. You can see below the photos of our room on the seventh floor and the view from it. We even had a really big bathroom - a relief, since from the size of the door I was expecting another shower over the toilet setup like we had in Hong Kong last time.

Our first stop after leaving the hostel was the Ben Tanh Market, where we walked down tiny aisles and received many compliments from people trying to sell us things. The market, as seems to be typical of Vietnamese and Chinese shopping, was organised into categories, so all the shoe stalls were in one place, the hats in another, the watches in another and so on. Good for comparison, bad if you can't find the section you're looking for.

Continuing down Le Loi street, we took some photos of the City Hall and then the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was unfortunately not open for viewing. Having not eaten since Singapore I got grumpy and picked somewhere to eat. It's a bit scary trying to find somewhere to eat because you can get sick from so many things - food not cooked enough, salads, people touching the food with their hands, utensils, ice, touching your food with your hands and so on. Add my being a vegetarian and you can see why trying to find food is daunting!

I got fried egg, noodles and veggies, which was hot when it arrived. I ruined my safe behavior by ordering a drink with ice and using the cafe's chopsticks, which the lady had set out with her bare hands. Dad got some meat thing with noodles, which he said was not hot but perhaps cooled quickly.

We didn't even really consider paying the 40.000d ($2.15) to get inside the gates of the Reunification Palace grounds to have a closer look at it. We took photos through the gate and called it a day. We did pay the 15.000d ($0.90) to visit the War Remnants museum, which u regretted when it turned out to be unsurprisingly biased against the USA and did not have nearly enough seating for me to ease my aching feet. That's what I get for taking sandals I hadn't broken in. I did love my first sighting of bats, squeaking away in a building where you could look down on replica jail cells.

On the way back to Vietnam Inn Saigon we walked through a park in which the traffic noises faded away, a brief respite from the constant honking as people tell others they're coming and to get our of the way. We had a break in the hostel before heading back out as it's hard to go a whole day in this 30°+ heat.

Evening saw dinner at a chain restaurant called Alo near the hostel - and when I say restaurant I mean fast food, not anything fancy. Dad got a chicken burger - health hazards here being the lettuce and tomato - while I had French fries and fried egg on bread and no health hazards except that we both got very sickly, strong lemon and honey drinks with copious amounts of ice.

Our last order of the day was grocery shopping at a huge supermarket crammed full of people. Not much in the way of prepackaged snacks available for us to grab for traveling, but we did buy an apple juice, a fizzy and a 1.5L water each.

Bedtime preparations take a lot longer than at home, because we have to wash our clothes in the shower and plan the next day's events and money before sleeping. Eventually at 11pm I was able to read a bit of Harry Potter and then fall asleep.

Photo Descriptions:
1. On the plane 2. Our room at the Vietnam Inn Saigon 3. The view from our room 4. The Notre Dame Cathedral 5. Dad holding some coconuts right before getting scammed into buying them 6.Some of the vehicles at the War Remnants Museum 7. Bats! 8. The jail cell

4 comments:

  1. Reading about your adventures is really interesting! :) I think I would be kind of freaking out about all the potential health hazards in regards to the food, but sounds like you're pretty knowledgeable about what to look out for.

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    1. Thanks! I'm so behind because uploading the pictures one at a time is a total pain. We've actually had no trouble with at all, even though by now I have licked my fingers, eaten lukewarm food that's been left sitting out and drunk a lot of tap water. It's been way safer than we were lead to believe - or we just have hardy stomachs!

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  2. The bats do not look how I imagined. Sounds like you're having a good time :). Good to see your not being reckless with your food safety on day one.

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    1. What did you imagine them to be like? There was a puppy at the farmstay that lay flat on his tummy so he looked like a bat lol

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