Published: June 18th 2012June 18th 2012
Today started later as we decided to have sleep-in, we got up at 9:00am had a quick shower then made our way up to level 8 for our included breakfast. We had much the same as yesterday then made our way back to our room to work out what we wanted to do for the day. We decided on walking out to the Water Park so packed our backpacks with our swimmers and sunscreen and made the way out of the hotel by 10:20am.
We'd walked only to the end of the short street our hotel is on before it started bucketing down with rain. We took shelter for 5mins while we decided what to do and waited for the rain to calm. It did drop down to just a spit after this time but we decided we'd try for the water park tomorrow and head in the direction of the Diamond Plaza again instead.
On the way we came across a promo thing that was going on for Air Asia where they had an F1 Ferrari parked out the front. They invited us over to get a photo with the car, and the models so we did, it would have been rude not to.
After this we made our way again, calling in briefly again to the Ben Thanh Markets. We didn't stay long before heading for the plaza again. The reason for the plaza is that we'd noticed yesterday that there was a bowling alley on the top level, this is what we would use to fill in some time while the storm passed.
We hired some funky shoes for 15,000VND (75c) and I had to buy some socks for 10,000VND (50c) and the games were 80,000 ($4).. For that price, who could resist a couple of games?! I won the first game 70-99 and I won the second game 49-83. Who knew I was semi-decent at bowling?! After demolishing Jess at bowling we had a quick go at air hockey in the arcade the grabbed some icecream.
We then headed back out of the plaza in search of an ATM, the closest one we found was just around the corner at the Commonwealth Bank Head Office. Yes, to our surprise they have CommBank here! After, we headed toward the river again as we were so rudely interrupted yesterday doing this by the rain.
On the way to the river we came across the Vincom Centre which was a plaza full of high end clothing stores like Gucci, Prada, Emporio Armani etc so we quickly made our way out and across the street to another plaza called SaigonTourist Plaza. We noticed as we were about the cross the street a VERY nice black Ferarri parked out the front of Vincom; that's the type of people that were shopping in there.
We headed into the tourist plaza, had a look round then made our way again toward to river. On the way we decided to stop again and have some lunch so stopped in at Pho24.
Pho24 is basically Vietnamese food made for Westerners, it's the Authentic taste with the safety of it basically being a takeaway chain store. In saying that, it's probably sourced from, prepared and served not that differently to the street vendors. Either way, it was De-lish! We got the Pho Bo which is basically a soup with beef slices and 23 other ingrediets like onion, chilli, beanshoots and noodles among other things. Big fan.
We finished lunch about 1:30pm and again was on our way down the street toward the river. On the way we walked past the Opera House. Pretty, we didn't attempt to go in though. Took some photos and continued on. Eventually we made it to the river. Not a lot going on.
We noticed a statue monument thing to a guy called Trấn Hưng Đạo. Just to briefly explain who he was I came across this website which brilliantly describes him:
"Trấn Hưng Đạois the national hero of Vietnam and one of the greatest unsung heroes of military history. A bone-crunching asskicker who would rather have unhesitatingly suffered a violent, horrific death at the business end of a pack of gigantic man-sized demon leeches than dishonor his badass reputation in the most trivial sort of way, this guy forged a rag-tag band of untrained citizen-soldiers into the world's first guerrilla army, and then led them head-first into an all-out war with the Invincible Mongol Horde during the height of the Khans' power. And, amazingly, thanks to his unstoppable military genius, a couple flaming boats, and a few thousand bamboo poles tipped with iron spikes, he won.Trấn , who I will from here on out refer to as Tran Hung Dao (yes, I realize this is a total rape and pillage of the Vietnamese language, but if I have to navigate the Character Map for those letters every time I want to write the dude's name it's going to take me a month and a half to write this thing), was one in a line of Vietnamese shitkickers who didn't let idiotic bullshittery stand in the way of their quest for badass awesomeness. His great uncle had been the Imperial Regent for the Vietnamese Ly Dynasty (meaning that he was basically like Jaffar from Aladdin), and when Uncle Tran decided that Emperor Ly was a total waste of human skin surrounding a vapid core of solid congealed dumbass, he usurped the throne, forced the Emperor to become a monk, married the Princess off to his nephew , and then spent the next couple years surfing the corpses of his vanquished political rivals out of Saigon on a river of blood (Note: This was back when Charlie still surfed). Tran Hung Dao therefore became a Prince, and this stone-cold stunner's no-bullshit attitude and ability to bend a pair of scissors in half with his biceps made him perfect for the job of Supreme Military Grand Warlord Commander of Vietnam."
for the an amusing and well written insight to who appears to be a very influential part of Vietnam's Military History.
After this we headed along the river until we go to a bridge where we decided to spend 10minutes trying to cross the road as there wasn't even lights here. Eventually we made it across, weaving in and out between sccoters moving very quickly. It was the hardest and busiest road we've tried to cross yet.
We made our way through many streets, weaving in and out, not really knowing or caring where we were as we had no where to be and we were happy as long as we were headed in the general direction of the hotel.
Along the way we came across the Bitexco Financial Tower which we didn't go up but in comparison is kind of like the Rialto is to the Eureka Building. It was the tallest building with a lookout area until January 24, 2011 when another one took it's place. We took some photos and continued up the road where we came across the Reunification building. We didn't go in as this is included in our tour when we start out Intrepid Tour tomorrow evening.
We made our way round the corner before we finally recognised a corner we'd past earlier so wound our way back by memory. We ended up at the Ben Thanh Markets again but on the street running down the otherside. We came across a spa called CaliSpa which was supercheap and looked really clean without looking exclusive like some others. Went in where we got a 45min foot massage for 70,000 ($3.50). The girls were lovely and we've decided to return tomorrow for a stone massage.
While we were in there it started pouring again so when we were done we walked round the corner to the hotel where we ran into one of the girls who is doing the tour with us, her name is Sarah-Jane and she's from Adelaide. We spoke briefly to her before we made our way to our room where we stayed for about an hour before making our way down to Cafe Eleven some drinks and an early dinner.
Cafe Eleven had more of a menu this time so I got the spring rolls again and also a beef type soup, different to the Pho I had for lunch. Wish I could remember the name of it, but none-the-less it was lovely. Just as we'd finished dinner and ordered a drink Sarah-Jane walked past and saw us so came in for a drink.
She was just on her last day of a Cambodia Intrepid tour so had their farewell dinner at 7:00pm so we decided to head back to the hotel then too. We got our cameras and decided to head out to get some night photos. In doing this, we realised there wasn't a hell of a lot to take photos of. So we made our way to a 7eleven type shop where we got some vodka (375mls of 32.5%alc for 40,000 or $2!) and sprite and decided to have a couple of quiet drinks at the hotel before having as earlish night as we wanted to wander out at sunrise tomorrow.