Thursday, September 4, 2008


There is some movie quote from Apocalypse Now that Andrew knows
involving Saigon, but my goldfish brain can't for the life of me
remember what it is! Anyway, I quite liked Saigon. Definitely the most
westernized of all the Vietnam cities, but in parts still had that
same Vietnam feel. Way more cars than we'd seen in our time here, but
still a heap of bikes zipping around too.

Our trip to Saigon wasn't quite the debarcle I may have lead you to
believe, but it still wasn't as smooth as one would have liked. This
time we bought tickets from Sinh Cafe, one of the most well known
travel operators around. When we rocked up for our bus at 8 the man
told us that we'd been moved to another bus and that someone would
take us there later. Not again!!!!! My heart sank into my stomach as I
couldn't believe that we'd been shafted once more. His explanation was
that a group of 5 people (booked after us) were given our seats so
they could sit together in the back row of 5. Understandably upset, we
then had to wait for two more people that had also been shafted. The
whole time the man from Sinh Cafe was ensuring us it was another Sinh
Cafe bus going from elsewhere and we would have exactly the same
seats. If we were at home, maybe we would have been more inclined to
believe him, but after being screwed around last time we were rather
skeptical. With only minutes to spare they finally whisked us and the
two other totally confused passengers to the other bus. We arrived not
at a bus station as we were told, but another bus company, Hahn Cafe
(who we thought we were travelling with last time). We hesitantly
climb on the bus as the person who drove us had already pissed off
back to his own office. While seats weren't allocated we were lucky to
find the ones we wanted still free. And I guess the bus was of the
same standard as their own. Still, these tour companies here are not
to be taken on face value. Check everything and then check it again.

We arrived in Saigon at 6 the next morning feeling slightly rested. We
then had the arduous task of finding somewhere to stay. One thing that
was obvious straight away was that things didn't open as early here.
While in Nha Trang when we arrived at the same time we were never met
with a closed door. Here, it seemed a lot of guesthouses and
restaurants were still fast asleep. We gave up on finding acommodation
instead locating somewhere for breakfast that met our prerequisites
(I.e. Cheap).

Most things were open by then and we went back to the task at hand. It
wasn't proving as easy as previous destinations. Some were full, some
too expensive, some too expensive for what they were. Finally we found
one (well actually it found us - we were shown to it by a full
guesthouse), Phoenix 74. Our room was way up on the top floor (lucky
it had a lift) with a view of some of Saigon.

We didn't do a whole lot here to be honest. We visited the former
Presidential Palace, now called the Reunification Palace whose front
gate was flattened by a communist tank the day Saigon surrendered in
1975. Definitely wasn't your typical palace with its 70's style
interiors, but the architecture was pretty cool. Underneath was this
maze like system of tunnels where the control room was.

We did a bit of shopping. Ate some fast food a la Vietnam style. Went
bowling!!! I lost big time. I swear my ball had some kind of edge
hugging magnet on it. We visited the Saigon river. And we thought the
Yarra was gross LOL. This chocolate milk like river was infested with
an abundance of debris and rubbish. Definitely not the picturesque
beauty I had visualused.

And while we didn't do much, I still enjoyed it and wouldn't mind
going back to visit again.

Sent from my iPhone

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