How soft is the head of a 14 year old?

Trip Start Feb 11, 2009
Trip End Mar 04, 2009

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 11 Vung Tau/Saigon Feb 22

Wake up and open curtains and we're already sailing through Mekong delta. Bump in to Mathias and he only found out about change last night as well. He's a bit more philosophical than Maggie. I go to shorex desk at 7 and ask what tours are available - Ho Chi Minh highlights, Ho Chi Minh by Rickshaw and Vietnamese cooking, USD114 each. Discuss with Al and we decide on rickshaw tour but when I get up to desk as he's been ages he's changed to highlights tour. I'm not real happy but by end of day we realise it was the best choice.

Al only has time for very quick shower as tour leaves at 8 and we need to be in lounge at 7.45. He'd walked away from shorex desk at after 7.30.

We're last on bus and we have choice of sitting next to aisle as a number of couples are sitting at a window each so we go for back seat and it's great.

Trip in to Saigon interesting. Gazillions of motorbikes/mopeds, rice paddies, huge cattle, cart being pulled by couple of water buffalo. Trip takes about 2 hours. Have trouble understanding what guide is saying but get the gist of it. Luckily I have worked with a couple of Vietnamese but most people can't understand more than one word in 10. Makes for an interesting day.

Both of us got back to the ship and were a little under whelmed by Saigon. We were both expecting much more. It was just like a giant version of Nha Trang with the addition of a lot of old colonial buildings falling into disrepair. There weren't even as many motor bikes as we thought there was going to be but it Ws Sunday and that was the reason we were given.
Unification Palace - very weird, Post Office (not sure why we stopped but lovely building), Museum of History - rushed, water puppet show great, Chinese temple - a big version of the ones we saw in Hoi An, lunch at Equatorial Hotel perfect - lots of great Vietnamese dishes and local fruits (plus lots of boring stuff for the chicken Americans and Poms), only 45 minutes as well instead of the normal 1 hour gorge fest. Guide wouldn't stop at market as he was worried he'd lose people and he would have after watching them go crazy at our last stop - a lacquer wear factory and shop. These people just never stop.

Some interesting facts - daily road toll 1000 although we reckon that can't be right; has only been compulsory for motor bike riders to wear helmets for two years; exception is those under 14 because wearing a helmet could damage the still developing brain and he skull is soft!! Obviously falling off a speeding motor bike and hitting your head on the road is less dangerous.
Bit of concern on bus as we left that we would be late back to ship. Our paperwork said last boarding 4.30 for 5 sailing. He said his paperwork said 5 for 5.30. In the end we were back at 4.35 but the last bus didn't get back until 5.20. Some very unhappy staff but the tour company must have gotten that info from somewhere.

Fabulous sail away down the river as sun was setting. Quite amazing. From what could have been such a disaster we had a really enjoyable day. Unfortunately Maggie and Norm hadn't had the same experience. They managed to snag one of the cabs on the dock when the ship arrived but driver spoke little English, they asked a lady in an electric mobility scooter to join them which limited the places they could visit and to top it off they got conned into a very expensive lunch -USD49 each - in a country where you could feed six for the same money and have food and alcohol.

Had a drink with Ron, Chris, Ken and Ruth in they headed to dinner. Said we'd join them back after we finished. They closed Schooner Bar with us still sat there so we moved to Viking Crown lounge and left there at 3.15 when they switched the lights on! Met another great couple - Michelle and her husband Alan, a black guy who is with the US army in a logistics position. They're currently stationed at Okinawa.

Thank goodness it's a sea day.

Day 12 sea day Feb 23

Lazy day, out of bed just in time to sneak in a quick brekkie. Get bill to confirm we've got onboard credit for cancelled fuel surcharge of USD280 and it's not there. I'm told if it's not there then we wouldn't be getting it. I say yes we will and we have an email confirming it. He says he'll check. Arghhhhh. Looks like we'll be following this one up when we get home.

Sit out by pool and watch belly flop contest - hilarious - and then illusionist/magician we passed on a few nights ago get wrapped up in chains and padlocks and then jumps in to pool. He emerged nearly three minutes later. Could have been a burial at sea in a pool. How ironic.

Last formal night tonight. There was only these three and then all the rest casual although we'd brought clothes for semi-formal as well. Like usual we've brought way too many clothes.
Ayutthaya tomorrow. Can't wait.
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