Stories from Saigon

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
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Trip End Feb 01, 2012


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Where I stayed
Diep Anh

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

 








 Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon. Probably the most famous place in Vietnam for a very wrong reason. War. 

Well a lot has changed since then and the new Saigon is an ever growing metropolis with millions of people and what felt like billions of mopeds and motorbikes. 
To be honest I was dreading the place as I heard so many horror stories but you know what? I enjoyed our stay there. 
We got the night train from Nha Trang to Saigon and even though we shared our room with cockroaches I still preferred it to a night bus! Our start to Saigon was with the usual dodgy taxi driver trying to rip us off. After travelling for 7 months you get a sixth sense for these things and we warned him that we would only pay him what we knew the journey would cost. Well he threw a wobbly and threw us out the taxi! Ha ha. Luckily taxis are all over Saigon so we jumped in to another one right away. 
Things improved tenfold when we walked into our Guesthouse. Diep Anh HAS to be the place you stay when you come to Saigon. The owners are quite simply the nicest people you will ever meet. We felt like we were part of the family and they will do anything for you. The best hosts / owners we have encountered in the 7 months of travel, bar none. We took up their advice and walked around the city on a route they drew for us on a map.                                                                                                                                                                                             Our first stop was the war memorial museum. Now regular readers of this blog will know how we feel about war after our trips to Hiroshima and Phnom Penh. After visiting this museum our disgust is even stronger. I will not go on a rant like previous entries all I will say is Google Agent Orange victims and then click on Photos. Look at what the so called civilised west did to innocent people to fight communism. Not to mention all the animals and land that were destroyed by this highly toxic chemical. Unbelievable. The pictures we saw in the museum horrified us and brought tears to our eyes. 






 







 

 



 






 






 
On a lighter note, we also visited Notre Dame cathedral. It was almost 7 months to the day that we were next to the original one in Paris. Wow that seems like a lifetime ago. More impressive though was the 120 year old post office. Its in a beautiful old colonial building with amazing columns and high ceilings. It is still in operation too!  I know Karen loves to talk about restaurants so I will let her describe where we ate after our walking tour…………… 



 








 


Having worked up an appetite, we headed for a typical bar-b-q place that the Vietnamese tend to visit when they want to celebrate. It was fantastic. A huge open-air place jam packed with merry locals. Each table has a bar-b-q in the middle where you can cook the food you order. Paul and I feasted on loads of different meat like deer and boar but we passed on the frogs’ legs. At one point they gave every one sparklers, switched off the lights and sang Happy Birthday to the different people celebrating theirs. The atmosphere was brilliant! 











The next day we went on a 1 day tour of the Mekong Delta. If you’re ever coming here wait until you arrive before booking a Delta tour mainly because the prices that the websites advertise are way too expensive. For some reason you can do the same thing, with the same company for a fraction of the price if you book through your guesthouse. Hmmm, what can I day about the actual tour. After having travelled along remote rivers in Laos, this trip didn’t feel the least bit authentic but it was still a fun day out. We travelled on a boat out of Saigon which had us struggling to keep our breakfast down with the stench coming out of the water. Once we got to the Delta we were transferred to smaller boats which two people rowed along thin canals lined with coconut trees. That journey was absolutely magical. We visited a bee farm where we bought some Royal Jelly and a Coconut farm where we bought some coconut candy and soap. The focus was very much on us buying stuff.








 

 






 
The highlight of the trip was meeting Pamela. She was on a solo 3 month adventure around South East Asia. We’d first bumped into each other on a bus to Nha Trang. Then by pure chance we’d stayed in the same hotel there, as well as in Saigon. We’d also gone on the same tour on the same day. Life was frantically trying to get us to know each other. We chatted for hours and I felt like I’d met a kindred spirit. She also gave me a great recipe for Ox-tail stew which I can’t wait to try out! I’m sure we’ll be meeting again at some point in our lives. 
Our last day in Saigon was market day for our little narrow street. Somehow people had managed to set up small tables and stalls selling fish, vegetables, meat and ready made food, even though the street was so narrow you could hardly fit two bikes along it. The atmosphere was brilliant. 
That afternoon, I’m sad to say, we made our way to the AIRPORT. Yes after 7 months of travelling without using a single plane we had to break our pledge and board an aircraft. We’d searched high and low for ways of getting into the Philippines. Freighter boats couldn’t stop us there as the bribes requested to let us on were too high. The only passenger boat that did travel into the Philippines stopped in Mindanao and presented us with 2 dangers, the boats sank often, and foreigners were sometimes kidnapped and even killed. We decided it was not worth trying to verify this for ourselves and took the easy option of a 90 minute flight to my top destination. I was VERY excited. Especially as we would be meeting two of our friends who’d flown from the UK to come meet us. Woo Hoo!
See you in Manila
Lots of LoveKaren and Paulxxx



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Comments

mom on

Very good read keep them coming xx

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