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Published: February 15th 2013
Went to the Park Hyatt fancypants martini bar for cocktails in rush hour. Actually in the bar it definitely was not - people obviously had other plans for Valentines Day. Arrived in state of cardiac arrest after a taxi ride round Ben Thanh market roundabout. Tried not to shriek. Went to check out the P H pool. Pics on tripadvisor looked great, and Lonely Planet said that you can pay to use it for the day. Ms Snotty of Saigon, the receptionist (maybe I should have given my crocs a scub before attempting this) said that they have a lot of guests ( and you are clearly not one of them) and a very small pool (a lie) but I could go up and look and ask at the spa. It's on the 3rd floor, with a lovely garden, lots of loungers - beautiful and quite peaceful given its position. The spa ladies were not seemingly traumatised by my footwear - $35 for the day, but will definitely splash out when we get back from Hoi An.
Yesterday was a half day excursion to the Cu Chi tunnels. An inauspicious start as I yet again got the time wrong so
missed the tour guy when he came to find me. Had to be rushed round to their office and then sat on the back of a scooter driven by a 12 year old as we chased the bus until we caught up with it. It was the best bit of the whole day! Very inspired to take some motorbike taxis - maybe not in rush hour. Sat and chatted with a Japanese guy on the coach, who sadly said the Japanese stomach is not strong. Marvellous! The English stomach, however, seems to be. Have eaten salad from street stalls, ice in drinks, cleaned teeth with tap water - all ok so far.
Excellent tour (£5.70) learning about how the Vietcong survived by digging a network of tunnels and living in them. There were hundreds of tourists but it was surprising how they kind of disappeared - you could easliy imagine how hard it would have been for the US troops to find anyone. We walked along paths through the trees and every so often there would be a reconstruction to look at or have a go in. The first entrance didn't look too difficult, but I didn't try it,
and then round the corner was a proper-sized one - half the size of the first, built for fat western hips!!! Didn't look like one leg would fit in. Both impossible to see when covered in leaves. Scary traps of all sorts with sharpened bamboo stakes, previously used to trap animals and adapted by the Vietcong in the war.
Towards the end you can have a go on the firing range, and after my facebook poll (what a violent lot you are!) was really keen to try an AK47. Big disappointment! You have to buy bullets, minimum 10, at between £1 and £1.50 each, and there is a kind of menu with the big machine gun ones at the top, going down to the teeny ones. The guy selling them looked at me, decided I was weak and old-looking, and pointed to the very bottom of the list - carbine (Mike???) and wouldn't budge, so I ended up with an ex-fairground affair and the clip kept jamming. No satisfying ratatat with me being thrown flat onto my back, as I'd hoped for. £10 and I didn't even win a goldfish! Wanted to buy a souvenir grenade to add to
my lovely son-in-law's collection but was worried about getting it through the airport.
Back to the city (fairly boring drive except for when the driver missed a scooter by a nanomillimetre when turning right. The few of us who saw did shriek this time), changed money in a proper exchange place rather than a travel office. It was easy and counted out slowly in front of me so no danger of being cheated, then dossed about on Bui Vien until Beth finished work and we headed off to meet her trainees, past and present (poor poor things - so glad it's not me, fulltime Delta and all that, very hard work) for Friday drinks. Nice chat with the manager of the training dept at ILA (eela), then we were escorted to a recommended restaurant down a very doubtful-looking alleyway. V good food if a little tricky. Don't know the name in Vietnamese but you get a plateful of items - big leaves, little leaves which looked like nettles, beansprouts, meat, squidgy white stuff in tiny rolls, roll it all up in a spring roll wrapper, dip in sauce and try to eat without making a mess. Not happening. Or
easy. Delicious though. Taxi ride home better as it was dark and therefore harder to see, and the street are all lit up with Tet lights still. Uberbling, but really pretty. One more day here, then off to Phu Quoc on my own to lie on the beach and read for 5 days.
xxxxx to my bbgrls and all
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