Tuesday, 16 February 2016

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (18 Hours in Saigon / Ho Chi Minh City)

OMG, it's been 1.5 years since this happened. Time to publish this post, BLUSH.

It all starts when I leave my hotel in Phnom Penh (coincidentally, I'm back here when I finish this post) at 2 pm (they granted me late checkout. 

Protesting something. But what?

Isn't that the GREATEST gasoline company symbol: A fire-breathing Naga

Is this the first time I'm flying Cambodia Angkor Air?
I LOVE the stewardess outfits !

YES, I have a boarding pass. 

My arm is SLOWLY healing and Cambodian Sterling is standing in for the lost Hopi bracelet.

Right behind me in line were 10 young guys in their early 20s with HUGE suitcases.  Judging by the long pants and jackets they are most likely Cambodians (Even though my Tuk-Tuk driver complained about the heat). One of those guys gets the window seat right next to me.  
During the safety demo he seems nervous and starts fiddling with the safety card. When we take off he has his eyes closed and when the sun comes through his window he cranes his neck  waaay backward to get it out of the intense sunlight. At this point I can't take it anymore. I motion for him to pull the blind down and indicate that it doesn't matter to me.  He says "Thank You, me first time". Oh great, a plane virgin.
I say "Everything is going to be O.K. the plane from Phnom Penh to HCMC is safer than crossing street in Phnom Penh". 
HisHead nodding.  "you help me ! "
 I guess I didn't convince him that we're NOT going to crash. 
 I suggest he put his big backpack into the empty overhead bin instead of clutching it for the whole flight,  I help him to lower his table tray when they bring the water (tricky locks if you've never seen one) and clandestinely put my copy of the flight magazine into his seat pouch (He  keeps studying the safety card and I had stolen the previously empty seat's pristine flight magazine for Grandma).
This seems to at least temporarily distract him from his certain fate of Death by Crash Landing.

The plane lands at 17:20. <cell pics missing>

It takes Vietnam immigration almost one hour to hand me back my passport with the Visa stamp from the time that I hand in all the necessary documents. I am back in Vietnam!

A taxi from the airport to my hotel in District 1 costs me 200,000 VND and just after I arrive in my room I receive an e-mail from W&U and we agree to meet up for dinner at 8:30 pm.

In a convenience store across the street from my hotel I buy a bottle of wine.  Back in my room, I discover it has a cork. Neither my room nor my reception has a cork screw though. Neither has the store that sold me the wine. Neither does the next hotel.  Imagine an exhausted traveler walking from hotel to hotel with a bottle of wine in his hand.

I finally get lucky in the next hotel though.  They have a Cork-Screw !!!!

I am two minutes late for the appointment with W&U, because ..... (drum roll),
the new watch I exchanged this morning for the broken imitation Patek Phillipe has stopped working as well.  WTF?????  How can the manufacturer of these cheap imitations stay in business if their products don't even live as long as Eintagsfliegen?????

When being seated I get another confirmation of what people have told me before. Money has done something to Sai Gon.  People are less friendly here. What am I saying? There are RUDE Vietnamese here!  At first we oversized Westerners can't have a table that is sized for 6 Vietnamese. When we are crammed at a table sized for 3 Vietnamese, we are not allowed to turn the table and we are told to sit closer together.  Gone is the neocolonialist feeling that was quite charming in Northern Vietnam and Cambodia.
But they can afford being rude here, LOL.

The BBQ Mackerel with some kind of Japanese dipping sauce is OUT OF THIS WORLD! We order more and wash it down with Viet beer.

I am sad to see W&U go. It's rare to meet such lovely people. Even rarer to meet people that are as quirky and opinionated  as me.  For them to be Germans, well what can I say, the odds are astronomically low ;-)
We head to another place for more drinks and chatter and it happens AGAIN. I say to the waitress ruou vang do and she brings me red wine.  All that drinking has a pronounced (pun intended) effect on my linguistic skills ;-)

I sleep until 6 am. The receptionist is fast asleep (Nothing unusual ;-) when I head with my cup to the downstairs hot water dispenser.

No need for shower or breakfast. Head out into the streets.

These towers.   Phallic symbols of the power of the powerful.  What do they do for regular people? Nothing but cause their houses to be torn down to build these atrocities.  (My thoughts in 2017; I wasn't quite so radical in 2016)
But I'm not heading to that tower. I'm heading to the river.
It might be early but traffic is already atrocious !

Then it's time to cross the street again, LOL.  It takes more courage this time !

I'm not quite wandering aimlessly. There is a little method to the madness ;-)

Now what is this strange building at the end of a very loooooooong square?

That's right.   I'm here to see Uncle Ho !

Uncle Ho

Saigon is getting a new Metro system.  

And what would be a trip to Ho Chi Minh City without seeing the Saigon Opera building?

There is something enchanting about streets like this


I'm getting hungry.   A Banh Mi for 15,000 VND?    66 cents US, that works out to, LOL.
Almost back at my hotel I eat the FIRST Banh Mi on my 3 trips to Vietnam (Breakfast included in the hotel price is responsible for that).  It costs 15,000  VND (80 cents?) is outrageously good and outrageously spicy, so I wash it down with the remainder of the ruou vang trang I bought yesterday.  
One of the best Banh Mi I have EVER eaten !!!!
Time to take a taxi to the airport:

No comments:

Post a Comment