Published: February 8th 2012February 7th 2012
From the French period of occupation, right next to the Rex Hotel, where many reporters stayed during the war.
We're here! We made it to Seoul, South Korea, on an enormous Boeing 777, completely full, with good flight attendants and service. Korean Air must have had a dozen flight attendants for coach alone. We went through the dreaded body scanners at Atlanta -- no worse than walking through the old metal scanners. The first flight lasted 15 hours and I started to squirm at about 5 hours. The second (Seoul to HCMC) "only" lasted 5 hours total. We were glad to get here. It was midnight here on Sunday night/Monday morning, noon on Sunday at home. We awoke at 6:30 local time on Monday morning, starting time for the Super Bowl at 6:30 p.m. Sunday -- and no one here cared at all.
We're getting accustomed to the new weather and culture after two days in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), still called Saigon by the local population. We saw the tourist sights related to the war (which is called the "American War" here) on our last trip, so are skipping them this time. In the past two days, we've done A LOT of walking, measuring the city with our feet. Today, we got on a hydrofoil and went
Our hotel in the central (oldest) section of HCMC.
down the Saigon River to Vang Tau (also spelled Vung Tau) which is a tourist town, mostly for Vietnamese. On a Tuesday, it was luckily empty, so we enjoyed the beach and the cool breezes. Temps have been over 90, and the first day, we retreated to our air conditioned hotel room for about 4 hours. We did better today, as we were able to sit on the beach.
For those of you not familiar with Vietnamese food, let me tell you it's good. Lunch has been pho, a beef broth with rice noodles, mint leaves, bean sprouts and any spices you decide to add. We had pho Monday and Tuesday noon and will probably have it tomorrow too. It's a southern specialty. Dinner has been variations on vegetables and shrimp or fish. Beer is available, of course, but I love the huge variety of fresh fruit juices on every menu. Today, I had orange and strawberry juice layered in a tall glass, then later had a mixture of apple, carrot and fresh ginger.
We're millionaires -- did you know? The exchange rate is 20,000 dong to the dollar. This morning, Tom checked his money and found he
What would our electric company think of this?
had 1.5 million dong, which sounded good until he realized that was $70. Off to the ATM. Our only problem is making sure we count the zeros correctly on the bills. The taxi driver this afternoon was horrified when we handed him a 10,000 dong bill rather than 100,000.
Day after tomorrow, we'll take a two day boat trip on the Mekong Delta -- more later!
There are more photos below