Andrew watches his Dong in Apocalypse Now!

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 26, 2011


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Where I stayed
Vy Khanh Guesthouse

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, June 10, 2010

We woke with fuzzy heads but had to wait for the Lazy Irish to get out of bed. So we met at the bakery at about noon then started off on a bit of a self guided city tour.  We went to the Ben Thanh Market, where everyone would poke you or slap you and shout "you buy T shirt from me!"  We found the Weasel coffee that Chris and Sarah had recommended.  Essentially the coffee beans are fed to weasels.  The beans are then recollected from the poo and sold at market.  Unfortunately I left my coffee grinder at home so wouldn't have been able to do anything with the beans.

We saw a woman cutting open snakes or eels on the floor, there was blood everywhere.  We had a quick look around a few stalls but the negotiation part was very frustrating.  I looked at buying another new watch (as we have now crossed another time zone my old watch has been rendered useless as within 2 days the button to change the time fell off)  (Erica Edit: We must dig out the warranty) went up to a stall and asked for the cheapest one they had.  The guy started off wanting 280,000 dong (almost 10 quid), well I only wanted to pay about 2 pound or 60,000 dong. i.e. I have to start by saying my budget is 20k, or telling them it is  too expensive he came down to 200,000 before I threw my hat in at 30k he threw his watch in the glass container and told me I was ridiculous and told me to go away.

I did end up getting the same watch but it must have taken about 15 minutes of hard bargaining.  I still wasn’t happy but got the same one for 70k dong or 2 Pounds thirty. We then did the same negotiation on Erica’s sunglasses (she doesn’t have any now as she has managed to destroy two pairs) and the lady refused to go below 200k, when we walked away she came running after us and ended up getting them for 80k.  Still too expensive but the woman was adamant this was the best price she has given in a long time.

We then went to the Re-unification Palace, the president of South Vietnam lived and worked here during the Vietnam War, and it was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.   It was all very 70’s as it hasn’t been altered since then, lots of underground war offices with trad telephones and walls full of maps, oh and cells where they used to hold their captives but we weren’t allowed in that part

It was then a short walk on to the 'War Remnants museum’ formally the "The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government” .  This museum is dedicated largely to the American involvement in the war.  This was very interesting but showed a very one sided account of history.  Regardless of sides or truths / opinions it’s never nice to see the real side of war, of half bodies being carried after stepping on a land mine, of the mutilated bodies of babies preserved in formaldehyde.  A lot on the effects of the Agent Orange gasses that were used and the effects they still have today.  The photographs of so many innocent people who have so many disfigurements and having to live with shocking disabilities was heartbreaking.

It decided to start the daily heavy downpour so we jumped into the first taxi we found.  Our first rip off scam in Nam.  The guys meter was obviously connected to another button in the car (which Rorie reckoned he saw him pushing.  Every time the button was pressed the meter shot up erratically. We shouted him to pull over and actually paid him (it probably wasn’t worth fighting for the 1 pound 40 split between 4 of us). We headed back to ‘buy 1 get one free’ however the deal wasn’t on.  They were however screaming down the street at us amazed we were still alive after last night’s consumption.  It was buy 2 get one free.  We stood outside and refused to go in insisting we get a secret ‘buy one get one free’.  After a bit of a ‘staff meeting’ and the girl putting her finger to her mouth and a Shhhhhhhh  we went in and got a bit twisted until I suggested we fulfill Steve’s next challenge of hitting a bar called ‘Apocalypse Now’.  After asking around as to where the place was we found nobody would own up to frequenting such an establishment before an older Cumbrian man collared me and told me it was down the street.  Unfortunately that bar was called Good morning Vietnam (he was getting a little confused with his films).

We eventually found someone to point us in the right direction and completed Stevie F’s task (See picture of Lady E and I outside Apocalypse Now. Well, I think Steve’s words were it is a place where Communism mingles with exploitative capitalism.  The venue did not get off to a great start as I was getting madly pushed around by a bouncer who wanted me to put my bag in the cloak room, the bag however had all of our valuables in and I wasn’t leaving them with him.  So this place is free for all western men to get in, local women on the other hand have to pay to get in (seems a million miles from home).  Men are also outnumbered here maybe 3 to 1 by local women.  We think most were on the hunt for a western boyfriend but some were blatantly offering other services for money.  It was all very odd but very very interesting.  Erica wouldn’t let me get about 5m away from her so we never got to find out any more details really.  Erica Edit:  Apart from when Emer and I popped upstairs for some of the free ‘ladies night’ buffet, actually I think every night is ladies night by the looks of the place.  The booze was too expensive for us at almost 1 pound for a small can it was out of our league.  We headed back to the beer hoi place for a few more 12p pints before getting back to bed not sure what time but probably about 1am.
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Comments

Stevie Q on

Well I must say there have a been a lot of changes at Apoc Now since I was there, no hymn singing, no prayer services... all very distressing

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