I say Ho Chi Minh you say Saigon…

flags on the river
Colours of Vietnam

Vietnam friendly crazy hot and whole world of chaos. After the taxi ride we enjoyed a night at the Caravelle Saigon hotel. We woke up to a lovely breakfast, catering to our tastes with bacon and eggs and baked beans, my favourite, but add on to that the asian style dishes. Who would of thought that you could have dumplings in the morning. Such a sheltered life. Well the first adventure began, we decided to walk the streets to experience Ho Chi Minh city at its finest.

First stop Starbucks…we had to ease ourselves into it. We were to eventually taste all sorts of wonderful food, but a coffee was needed. The thing that first struck me about the streets is that there is not much order in the walkways, that is to say, most pathways were cracked or non existent. Canberra on the other hand has pathways alongside just about every building and road. Ho Chi Minh city has some, or none or just enough for you not to walk on the road. We started formulating a plan…let’s go to the river and see what waterfront restaurants and cafes were there. None as it turned out, but we had one of our biggest challenges to find this out.

Canberra Clock
Canberra in Ho Chi Minh!

Crossing a major road…holy chaotic scooter swarm batman. The major road running next to the river had many lanes all of which were filled up with scooters. none of which looked like stopping. We found a pedestrian crossing, but that made no difference. Scooters and bikes just flowed and flowed and flowed and did not stop. There was no gaps and no way of crossing. We stood at the side of the road for 10 minutes just startled and wondering how to get across. Once again we were assisted by a friendly local. He lead the way through the swarm of scooters reassuring us that we just look for gap and keep walking. Don’t stop and don’t look back. It seemed like a giant leap of faith. Where were the traffic lights and where were the little green men? Where was the overpass? At this point I appreciated everything about town planning and how structured Canberra really has been and is. We got to the other side , adrenalin pumping stuff!.

The friendly local turned out to be a city tour guide who could take us to any destination on his little card. We were grateful that he helped us across the chaotic street, but we were determined to get around by foot, so declined his offer. Of course we saw some of the city and the humidity was starting get to me. And hunger started to take a hold. Where to eat. Well we found what looked like a large outdoor noodle house. Ursula had told me that we must be careful not to drink the water or eat salad washed by water. The water was not without bacteria and it is taking a chance drinking anything but bottled water. So we order a could beer, this however was delivered with a glass of ice to drink with it…Local water perhaps…so we drank the beer out of the bottle. Though we saw some amazing fresh salads being served which made us wonder. We were still cautious about local food hygiene so we did what every good tourist should do and went to the nearest vietnamese german beer haus!… to drink more beer and eat something familiar.

And how about Viet Massage, forget Thai massage the ladies at the local Saigon massage sent me to sleep and Ursula to be very relaxed with a foot massage to remember. Forget that we couldn’t speak vietnamese and the lovely ladies of the back roads of Saigon central couldn’t speak english. Ursula and I were sent to another place with an awesome massage…. Next we head north to the spectacular Halong Bay and the VinPearl island hotel that is very extravagant with pool side bars, extremely friendly and welcoming staff and a far cry from across the water where Halong Bay offers a paradox of shiny tourist attraction and unassuming houses and more streetscapes that keep you guessing!

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