Ho Chi Minh City/HCMC/Saigon
Trip Start Aug 19, 2010
92Trip End Aug 31, 2011
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Classic, on leaving Takeo our bus broke down we woke up at 5am and did not leave until 930am. We missed the next bus we wanted to get to Saigon but managed to get the last one that left Phnom Penh at 145pm. It was a long days travel which was unnecessary, but we maintained a cool head for the most part as we kept getting told ten more minutes! We arrived here having booked a hostel online, we know that this is the safest way to ensure a cheap reliable deal but with wifi not always guaranteed this has not always been possible. Our hostel was so lovely; the freshest bed linen that smelled like jasmine, cable tv and aircon
We went to Cu Chi tunnels the next day where the Vietnamese had built trenches, underground villages and set booby traps all over this small town during the invasion of the USA troops. It only cost us US$5 for the trip so we couldn't complain too much when they took us to a coffee place for free coffee because there was 'no traffic and we were miraculously early' or when they took us to a handicapped handicrafts centre to buy their goods we didn’t buy anything but we heard others talking about how they had bought similar items in the market for a fraction of the price they were asking but some people obviously got sucked in.
The Cu Chi tunnels themselves are amazing; teeny tiny tunnels that have been widened twice like a web of routes and all leading somewhere. The kitchen and dining areas were all underground and we watched a 'film’ about the wartime Vietnam. It was just a Vietnamese Guerrilla propaganda film instilling hatred about the USA instead of any facts we heard statistics about how many USA troops arrived and what they had done to Vietnam
We went to one area dedicated to guns and obviously Anish had to have a go at shooting an M60 Rambo machine gun but he chose to settle for the M30 because it was cheaper and we bought 10 bullets. It was mega loud and powerful and I didn’t particularly enjoy being there taking pictures, but he really loved it he said you could feel the shockwaves in the air; it was a really powerful machine and was quite scary how quickly it got to the target.
Later that afternoon we had to organise our bus journey onward, having only 3 weeks remaining we had to make sure we had a plan and stuck to it in order to get round in time. The people in the hundreds of tour operator shops drove us mental, spinning one lie after another trying to charge us triple the asking price, telling us about school holidays and how getting a bus is simply impossible we should fly instead etc etc, you name it we got told it. Men got annoyed with me asking so many questions, seeing through their lies we got told again and again to bugger off then, they turned their backs to us, spoke harshly to colleagues about us and told us we had offended them (!) which upset us. It was hard work but we managed to whittle it all down after many hours and booked with a nice lady who seemed genuine enough
We drank a few beers and randomly bumped into one of the girls from the Orphanage who had a beer with us. It was a lovely balmy night and the street was brilliant for people watching. We ate monkey nuts and drank more beer, it was only 50p a jug which is why this particular street corner was absolutely buzzing! One lady walked by and tried to sell me some books, she kept asking what I wanted to pay being super sweet and friendly and despite all my efforts of smiling and cheerily saying no thanks back, she shouted ‘spicy girl, f@*k off!!’ and we just laughed! Saigon is a bustling city full of contradictions and chaos, but as we walked around we felt in awe of its throng of excitement and energy that runs through it. Everything is heightened here; there are masses of motorbikes and cars on streets, lights everywhere and alleyway after alleyway with peoples homes spilling out onto the streets. We were sad to have not been able to have spent more time here nonetheless we bid farewell to ‘spicy Saigon’! We finished with an Indian meal that still makes my mouth water it was so good and head back to the hostel exhausted.