So Timmy and I arrived in Saigon, tired and hungry, after 18 and a half hours and two delayed flights. Thanks Jetstar. Thankfully the we had made the choice earlier to book the Intercontinental and not some el cheapo hotel and retired to our luxurious room and amazing, amazing bed. While it seemed expensive originally, at that time it felt like the best $200 or so we’d ever spent.
Our choice seemed even better the next day when we were presented with the most glorious buffet breakfast spread you could ever imagine. Western, vietnamese, European, Japanese, Indian – you name it, this buffet had it. For those who know how much the two of us love breakfast, you’ll know just how much this would have been heaven.
After breakkie we headed out and about around the city. Navigating the road crossings was an experience in itself, but once one learns to shake the usual sense of self preservation and become comfortable with stepping boldly out in front of moving traffic, it’s not so bad.
Our stroll took us via a number of sites including the reunification palace, fake Norte Dame, the famous post office, Ben Thanh market and the war remnants museum, but it was really the hustle and bustle of the city that was the real attraction. The war remnants museum was a rather confronting display of mainly photography from the Vietnam war – as well as some heavy artillery. It’s hard to sum up exactly what you feel seeing that kind of stuff. one can only imagine what it would have been like for those who actually fought or lived through it as Vietnamese. Found myself being very thankful Dad was never sent here.
That evening Timmy and I took a tour with Vietnam Vespa tours – where we were transported around Saigon on th back of Vespas to sample some of the city’s tasty local cuisine and night spots. The tour was amazing. Never having ridden on any kind of motorcycle before, I was both exhilarated and terrified at the same time. Whisking through Saigon streets was like some crazy dream. The food was all amazing. We were taken to a whole lot of street food places and sampled Banh Mi (a Vietnamese bread roll thing with shredded pork and lots of other goodness), crab, mussels, snails, clams, frog, vietnamese pancakes and rice paper roles. Yes…frogs and snails.
The night was topped off though when we were led into some back alley, up a flight of stairs and into this amazing coffee/music bar that would have fit right into the Melbourne music scene. Tucked away with no signs leading to it (we were told that that’s how they like it to keep it exclusive), it was hard to believe that a place like it would exist in the middle of a busy Asian metropolis. We finished off the night at some strange Vietnamese night club, where some old Vietnamese dudes were playing rock covers. Hilarious. All in all it will be a very hard tour to top. Really felt like we had a taste of the real Saigon.