17 January 2013
The day started with a 5.30 wakeup call and 6.00 departure for the airport with a packed breakfast to eat on the bus. Our flight arrives at HCMC at 9.15 but we are delayed because the handle has been snapped off Sarah’s bag and she has to report it. This delay is not enough time for all our rooms to be ready when we arrive at the hotel so we leave our bags in a day room and head out for a walk around to familiarise ourselves. As usual our hotel is centrally located and is also near a park. We lunch at a restaurant that has been made famous because President Clinton had Pho noodles there in 2000. We do the same. After we check into our rooms we have a cyclo tour of the city.
Our cyclo drivers await. These are tricycles with a single seat in the front so you are thrust out alone into the traffic but surprisingly we feel safe and positively regal as we are pedalled around the city. The drivers are seemingly very old men. Certainly some are war veterans but some are younger than I am – it has clearly been a tough life for them. We learn that they are very poor and although Intrepid pay them, the 50000 (2.5 USD) we tip them makes a big difference to them. I am concerned as my driver seems keen to get rid of me to another driver half way through but realise that the second speaks some English and can point out key buildings on the way.
First stop is the War Remnants Museum which is again sad and confronting and leaves me in disbelief that the Americans could do this in the first place, that they haven’t been held accountable for the war crimes committed, and that we don’t seem to have learned anything.
On the way home in our cyclos we see the central railway station which is huge; a catholic cathedral; opera house; and the presidential palace that is now the Reunification Museum.
It is Brian’s 68th birthday so we buy him some beer before dinner at a nice little restaurant: Vietnam Aroma. Kom has again arranged a birthday cake and we have organised a card and a gift- a face mask that everyone uses here to combat traffic fumes. It has been made for smaller Vietnamese faces so there is great hilarity while he tries to keep the elastic straps from flicking off his ears and then decides it might make a better hat. The whole restaurant sings happy birthday to him.
We decide that further drinks are in order and Kom takes us to Crazy Buffalo which offers shisha pipes, a pool table and various different sports playing on TV, and there is a night club upstairs. We order drinks and then several of us got up to dance. Within a short time we had the waiters and other patrons joining in and drew quite a crowd of onlookers on the street that hadn’t seen so much action at the Crazy Buffalo and certainly from such an elderly group. Kom is in his element as he loves dancing and was getting everyone to do the most outrageously silly moves and he was the only who looked good doing so. We had an early start next morning so couldn’t stay partying all evening.
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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