Monday, 23 June 2014

Day 5 - Saigon - Dalat

We milled around the hostel for a couple of hours in the morning and then after some wandering around we had brunch in a little place I don't know the name of. There were a couple of older and very loud American men in there who recommended the food and got annoyed at a tout selling glasses. One of the men had snapped one of the arms of his glasses off and was looking a little lopsided. 

I got fried rice and a banana smoothie/milkshake (believe it or not, fruit smoothies are actually fairly common drinks here). The fried rice was large and I barely managed to finish it. At home I stop eating as soon as I stop feeling hungry since I can eat leftovers later but here I can't without a fridge to store them or a microwave to heat them so I keep stuffing my poor little tummy and have mostly avoided all snacks for fear I might have to leave food behind. 

Dad got an omelette that came with a whole baguette, so he also struggled to finish eating. We haven't had three meals a day yet, as we haven't had the stomach space. 

From brunch we caught a local bus to the historical museum, which turned out to be in the zoo. We went to the zoo first and I liked looking at all the animals, but their enclosures made me sad as they weren't very well kept. I've read that it's much better than it used to be but it still put a melancholy tone on our visit. The zoo was large and it was the middle of the day so we didn't see anything. I most liked the little cats (of course) and a strange enclosure where some squirrels were climbing on a sleeping pangolin. 


Weird, rundown theme park area inside the zoo
The scariest tortoise ever. Look at that mouth!


Just five snakes in a pile

In case you didn't like the snakes, here is an otter. It was making cute sounds,

And now a leopard cat! So cute.

Oh my gosh so many deer.

I was too tired for the museum so spent most of my time sitting in the courtyard playing solitaire on my phone until it started raining. Then I sped through the museum, ignoring all references to the Vietnam War (as well as being depressing in itself, the Vietnamese description of it is very irritatingly biased to the point of misinformation). I tried to pick up some idea of Vietnam's history but the erratic and inaccurate English translations left me only with the vague idea that there are a bunch of difference ethnic groups in Vietnam (one with only 184 members) and everyone wants to own Vietnam, especially the Chinese based on all their attacks over thousands of years. 

We walked back to the tourist section via the extremely unimpressive waterfront. We had tea in the Saigon branch of the restaurant we'd eaten at in Can Tho, also just called Cappuccino. I decided that as a responsible adult I would eat a banana pancake for dinner. 

By now it was very tired and our bus wasn't until 10pm. We walked top the park near our hostel, me with the idea of napping on a bench. Instead, as everyone was out exercising and socialising in the slightly cooler evening, I found a group of women doing something akin to Zumba to club dance music. I made a snap decision to join them, to Dad's surprise, and then proceeded to attempt to keep up with their quick and energetic movements. Lucky for me they were easy to follow after a couple of mishaps so I exercised along until I got a stitch. 

I exercised with these ladies


Exercising had woken me up so I joined Dad in talking to a young man who was studying to become a tour guide and wanted to practice English. Soon a woman came along and I made space for her to sit next to me on the wall and I talked to her. She took English classes for a hobby and was newly married to a man living in a different city. It was fascinating talking to her about her life and dreams - her dream job is working for the Vietnamese branch of the company Dad is a contractor for. Another man came along to talk to Dad, then another joined my conversation with the young woman, Lan. None of them knew each other, they just saw people speaking English and drifted over. 

Time went pretty quickly and soon we had to say goodbye so we could get some more water and juice in preparation for our bus trip. At the bus office we meet another father-daughter duo from Austria. Dad talked to them while I talked to a man who had planned to motorbike around but after his bike broke down in Mui Ne had brought it back on a bus to Saigon, sold it and was now going to bus up the country instead.
The bus to Dalat was a sleeper bus, it being a 7-9 hour journey, and it was very cramped. There were three beds in a row in about six rows on two storeys (like bunk beds), making for about 36 beds in one normal size tour bus. Dad and I were glad we were short. 

Dad and the back of the sleeper bus. Note the exciting lighting. Very useful on a SLEEPER bus, amirite?

Our leg space. We got to have our bags on top of/beside us. There was also loud music all night. Apparently the Vietnamese sleep through anything.
My triumph at taking out my contacts on the bus in a rush

1 comment:

  1. It's quite odd seeing deer without any grass. I also have to say the empty theme park seems a bit creepy. I could not handle loud music and exciting lighting whilst trying to sleep! Good warning to have for the future. Really cool to hear that people are interested in speaking English to you

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