Published: April 10th 2011April 10th 2011
Last night the kids were pretty exhausted and they ended up sleeping for about 12 hours last night. Good thing we didn't have anything much planned. This morning we switched hotels to move down the block (from the 'An an 2' to the 'Beautiful Saigon'). A the new place we have given up having an elevator (4th floor walkup now) but its the same price, cleaner, quieter (no places across the street open till 4am playing load music or buses honking at 6am) and has a really good restaurant in the lobby.
Just to be clear, the lobby is not like your standard Marriott. The entire building is about 6 stories high, about 100 feet deep and about 18 feet wide (narrower than a 2 car garage). So the 'lobby' is the restaurant with room for a table against each wall and a single aisle down the middle to the reception desk. Our room is the full width of the building and half its depth (we have a deluxe suite) with a queen sized bed, a double, a single/cot added in, a 32" flat screen TV (haven't turned it on yet) and the desktop computer I am writing this on (plus the standard mini-fridge, armoire and desk you get in hotels the world over). The food downstairs is quite good. Not the very best we can get around here but probably the second or third best and still really cheap. i.e. a bowl of noodle soup with chicken or beef (big enough to feed Ted who eats a ton and it shows) is a bit under $1.50 US. Our whole meal tonight for all 4 including beverages ran us about $12 and thats with every one of us having a milkshake with our dinner and a few sodas as well.
Today we did a kids day since they had been so good on the long flight. After sleeping in and changing hotels we took a cab out to the Cholon district a few kilometers away and went to the 'Shark Time' water park. Jacob enjoyed going down the big water slides (5) while CC immediately made friends with a bunch of little Vietnamese boys about her own age and spent the whole time in the pool and under the waterfall. We then tried to walk over to view the Pagodas in the local chinatown to discover the guidebook was way off on its map. Not only was the location of the water park wrong on the map, the scale was off as well. So we set off (in 90+ degree heat and high humidity) on a planned 500m walk from the water park. About a mile later, the map in the guidebook said we had traveled about 250m and were half way there. So we gave up and grabbed a cab back to the Pham Ngu Lao area where our hotel (and most backpackers) resided . Carolyn and CC did a bit of shopping as I took Jacob back to chill out in the AC and get some food.
Food and liquids restored us and that allowed us all to head out onto the end of Pham Ngu Lao road where there was a mini amusement park. Most of the rides were too little for Jacob and CC but they loved the little go-cart track and took a few rides on it before we started back to the hotel once again. The park along the way was heavily lit up and had tons of loud music as they were holding a tourist fair advertising tourism all around Vietnam. This was not focused on westerners like us though, it was all totally geared to internal tourism, that is getting the residents of HCMC to hop a bus out to Dalat or Mue Ne to take their vacations there (we'll be hitting both later this week). Carolyn and CC hit the shops again as Jacob and I returned to chill some more. He did a bit of his homework (much to his dismay) and I wrote this blog entry.
Its almost 9pm so the ladis will be back soon and we'll all crash for the night. Tomorrow we head out of HCMC for a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels, a vast underground complex of the Viet Cong from the days of the war. Then we'll see Caodai great temple in Tay Ninh and return to the city (8am-6pm). After that on Tuesday we'll head down into the Mekong Delta for 2 days (started taking our anti-malarial meds today) and then probably North to the highlands of Dalat. Hopefully Dalat won't be too cold (forecast is high 70s daytime, a lot better than Boston but we're travelling light and mostly have clothes for the 90+ degrees of the mekong, HCMC and coast.
Hopefully pictures tomorrow. The computer here looks like it'll work to upload but Carolyn is till out with the camera