MUI NE TO SAIGON

Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
1
61
320
Trip End Sep 02, 2009


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We checked out of the hotel after one last swim in the ocean and dip in the pool. Oops, they don't accept credit cards, so off we go to the ATM, oops, it's not working, so Len catches a scooter and goes 3 kms down the road to find another one.

Our last bus ride with XE Camel Open Tour Bus. It is late just under 1 hour picking us up. We went maybe 5 minutes down the road to their office and the driver stopped for lunch for 25 minutes. We went across to the beach and watched the kite surfing to pass time and stay cool. It was an uneventful trip - awe, - not even a flat tire and this time we did stop at a very nice station for a pit stop.

We arrive in Saigon by dark, it is a huge city of 8 million people. Quite interesting as most of the life style seems similar to what we have seen previously. We are let out in the backpackers area and are greeted by several hotel reps. Once we collect our bags I go with a lady to check a couple out. We enter a side street and all of a sudden there are more women saying to me, lady come look my hotel!

The first one was $20 with everything we needed and was clean, looked at a 2nd one similar in size but with a balcony about 2' by 2' and the view was a maze of wires! All for the same $20. Just looked at a 3rd one, the lady wanted me to take my shoes off before going up the stairs, great sign of a clean place. It was nice as the others, but only $12. So we took this one. Saving for the hotel in Dubai!

We went out for dinner and then to bed. Our plan was to get up early and see if we could get the tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels. We were up just before 6 and watched CNN with the news about the terrors in Mumbai India. Quite a sad situation.

November 27.
Happy Birthday Wendy.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and US friends - here's to a great dinner.

We did get on the tour. Took us just about 1 hour to get out of the city and then another hour to the area. Stopped at a factory where the disabled made laquered items, we did get to see how they made and finished each step. Some pictures were inlaid mother of pearl, it was one man's job to cut out all the sea gulls or birds, by hand with a fine small saw, that would be used in certain pictures. That is all he did, one after the other, all day long. Most workers were younger than I had thought, thinking some would be from the war. Then on to the tunnels.

Our guide gave us the history of the Cu Chi people, their lifestyle as farmers, and how they built the tunnels, on the bus before we got there. First there was a film presentation, then a demo on how they went in the tunnel entrance and hid where it was. The original entrances were maybe 12-15 " by the same. Then we moved onto the traps they used, they weren't very nice. Most were hidden spikes that would be stepped on or fall down or come out on the unsuspected. There were various living quarters, kitchens, areas where they used the b-52 bomb remains to remake the metal casings into spikes or take out the gun powder to make their own land mines, rubber shoes, clothing manufacture area, etc. We then got to go down into a tunnel and down again into another tunnel and along as far as you wanted to go. I went 20 metres and then came out, it was hot down there. I was walking bent over, remembering to keep my arms and shoulders curved in to keep away from the walls and tuck my head down so it wouldn't hit the ceiling. Remember the VC's are much smaller than me.
Len continued on and did about 40 meters. He was hot, we were surprised that it wasn't much cooler underground. Originally there were over 200 kms of tunnels, but now only a small area is maintained for tourists to come and see. In the kitchen a fire was burning and the smoke went out several long chimney pipes and then more pipes off of those ones so the smoke came out all over an area and would not be detected. The ventelation tubes were hidden in cockroach piles and were hard to detect. We seen a couple of craters where the bombs had hit. Everything is all grown over and thick, thick, jungle.

It was quite an interesting tour, the words chosen in the film and on the brochure was not quite what I had expected, but it is the prespective from their side.

We had asked to be dropped off down from where we are staying so we could do some window shopping. We are looking for a very small computer if the price is right, so far that right price hasn't been found.

We had lunch and then picked up the meds we need before heading into Cambodia. Got the "off" bug spray ready. We found and looked in several bakeries, the cakes all look so good! Len is still looking for that Krispy Kreme. Then found a flea market building with lots of clothing stalls all crammed on top of one another. Len got a cotton shirt and he found another hat. Hopefully this one will stick with him for the next 10 months or more.

When on the bus we passed some graves and I asked the guide about them. In the country most are burried on their farms, there are some old cement cone shaped mounds and then colourfull mint green crypts and some newer elaborate granite crypts. Reminded me of the ones in New Orleans.

We also passed large groves of tall trees and he said they were rubber trees. I did ask if Vietnam produced enough rice to feed the whole country and he said yes, and then told us they have a stock pile this year as the market price for rice was down so the government did not export any. I thought they would be importing rice.

While I am busy here writting away Len was out walking around the area. It is busy with lots of tourists, mostly young ones and a busy community. On one of his walks he was asked by a pretty young woman if he would like a motor ride. He declined, and then came and told me. He then went out for another walk and came back to say there are lots of 'ladies' out and around!

The stores are decorating for Christmas. Our guide told us they all go on Christmas eve and celebrate even though most here are not Christians. Apparently they party until the wee hours of the morning.

We are off tomorrow on a 3 day boat and bus tour up the Meakong Delta and will finish up in Phenom Phen. Will catch up with you then
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