Saigon

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
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55
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Trip End Sep 01, 2007


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Sunday, April 8, 2007

I trust everyone had a good Easter and belated Happy Easter. Hard to believe it came and went. Signed up for a City Tour with Sinh Travel in Saigon, the same company I used in Hanoi to go to Sapa and to Halong Bay.  I and a couple from Aust. staying in MC 184 Guesthouse, who were going on a trip to Cu Chi underground tunnels. got picked up on schedule at 8 a.m. and got onto a big aircon bus. Drove around and picked up others and then I changed to a small van to join others on the city tour while the big bus went to Cu Chi.  During the day went to the wholesalers'market, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral (many are Catholic in VN so there were services there Sat. night I hear but still no advertising (hey but my Vietnamese is a little rusty, could be plastered all over for all I know! - would have gone to service if it hadn't meant I had to find my way there again) and the Saigon River. Got dropped off at Sinh Travel and wandered around, as much as my nerves would let me on those busy streets, going back to my Guesthouse and had their free dinner of noodle soup and fried spring rolls. Not the most nutritious dinner, right up there with baguette and jam for breakfast, but can't complain if included in my $15 room.  Was really exhausted, after spending a whole day driving around and getting off in the heat. Lunch was included, and joined a young couple on the tour from Canada but who live in Thailand right now. He is a record producer and she is taking a year off as EA to Kinross Gold's President.  Also talked to a young couple from South Africa who are working in London and a Bankruptcy lawyer and his boss from Prague.  So always interesting the people one meets.
The next day I went to Cu Chi tunnels built by the VIet Cong in the Vietnam War. So many hidden traps in the woods, torture chambers etc.  On the bus to the tunnels a woman from Perth, Australia sat with me and her daughter sat across.  Sheila is married to a cattle farmer, farms with their son, who is working off the farm now (sound familiar, dad and Ken?) and daughter Melissa is married to a Construction company owner who hires a lot of Vietnamese people and is sponsoring a Vietnamese family to emigrate to Australia and is also setting up an import  company to bring in goods from Vietnam for resale.  They come to VN 3-4 times a year (daughter and husband).  Went for lunch after the tour at the Original Bodhi Tree restaurant near Sinh Travel and it was very good, although it was laughable the number of people coming in to sell sunglasses, toys, newspapers, books, trinkets - same products, diff sellers.  Then we went to a market and I bought some new flip flops for $1 and then we went to see the Rex Hotel, famous during the 50s and had a drink on the 25th floor of the Sheraton Hotel which has a wonderful view of the city skyline. Then they had to go for dinner and I went back to my place and feasted on yogurt and a beer!  Very good tour guides both days, quite good English. City tour guide worked for US forces during the war and actually spent a few years in the states, and following the war had tospend 7 years in a 're-education facility'as a prisoner.  The second guide got a scholarship to study at a University in New York. Weather hot hotter and hottest but it is actually the hot season now - sure didn't time this journey right but will know better next time!
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