Braving The Mopeds But The Odds Were Forever in Our Favour


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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1
August 8th 2019
Published: August 8th 2019
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Jade Emperor PagodaJade Emperor PagodaJade Emperor Pagoda

The entrance to the pagoda, once you have been able to find it.
It’s the last day of our holiday today, so we thought we would get ourselves in the right frame of mind (it’s now that we could do with those early morning tai chi sessions - see The Logistics of Boat Travel is Too Complicated For Us ) and go out to do battle with Ho Chi Minh City’s eight million mopeds again.

It was raining again first thing in the morning, but, again, it had stopped by the time we came to leave our hotel.

Our guide book had recommended the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon is split into a number of numbered districts, which sounds a bit Hunger Games-ish. Our walk to the pagoda took us out of the apparent security of ‘District 1’ and into the wilds of the untamed ‘District 3’. It seemed pretty much the same to us, just an equivalent level of equally psychotic mopeds all on a mission to run me down. The “odds were forever in our favour”, however, and we made it there unscathed, despite it being a longer walk than we expected and the pagoda being tucked away where we had trouble finding it.

It was worth the walk. This seemed to be a destination
Jade Emperor PagodaJade Emperor PagodaJade Emperor Pagoda

One of the ‘displays’ inside the pagoda.
for locals more so than for tourists. There were people praying, making offerings, lighting incense or candles and showing respect to the many little ‘displays’ (calling them that really doesn’t feel right, but I really can’t think of anything better), rather than taking loads of selfies.

We were unsure whether to take our shoes off or not, given that some people were and some people were not (none of the signs were in English). We took them off, then put them back on again when we walked to a different area, then got grunted at by someone minding one of the ‘displays’.

We took some selfies and then relaxed outside for a while taking in the atmosphere, listening to the music and enjoying the break from all the moped horns.

That, and a little bit more tai chi got us into the right state of mind as, sadly, we had received some requests from the kids back in the UK overnight, which meant braving the market again. At least we knew exactly which entrance to use and exactly where to go to, so we could get in and out without too much wandering about whilst being bombarded.
Ho Chi Minh City FootpathsHo Chi Minh City FootpathsHo Chi Minh City Footpaths

Riding on the footpath, but not only that, he’s on his mobile (which is actually not that uncommon).


When they haven’t got what you want in the right size, it’s amazing how they disappear off and come back with exactly the right thing a few minutes later.

We had a little bit of time to kill before our lift to the airport, so we found a Vietnamese coffee shop called Running Bean. The Vietnamese are very big on their local coffees, so it would have been a crime to go to a Starbucks, which do make an odd appearance here. It was also a chance to cool down in some air-conditioning.

We saw one very, very upmarket coffee shop where the coffee beans are eaten by weasels to add special enzymes, which enhance the flavour, but presumably after they had come out of the, urr, other end!?

Can someone please tell me why there is a World of Heineken in Ho Chi Minh City? Isn’t that several thousand miles out of place?

We caught our ride to the airport and wondered how on earth anyone can drive on these roads without taking out a large number of swerving mopeds. We are flying to Hanoi and then on to London, so it is going
Running BeanRunning BeanRunning Bean

It was too hot and humid for a normal coffee.
to be a long 24 hours. More tai chi required.

We had the option to check our luggage in all the way to London, but we thought that was a risk not worth taking, so we opted to transfer it ourselves in Hanoi.

I needed to get some chocolate or similar to take to work and I saw some Durian and some Mangosteen cakes. They will do nicely (see Our Five a Day Even if it’s Smelly or Glue).

There was the expected level of adherence to the rules on the flight. People were not sitting in their allocated seats and didn’t want to move, which caused some commotion. The moment we landed, off came all the seatbelts, on came all the mobile phones and there were mopeds going up and down the plane. Well maybe not the last one.

For some reason, every flight seems to find it necessary to tell everyone that they should not open the plane doors unless instructed to. I would hope that that would be one rule that didn’t need spelling out and wouldn‘t be disobeyed.

There was a massive lightening storm as we approached Hanoi.

We collected our bags and then got a transit bus to repeat the whole pre-flight process again. We ware back in the terminal that we had flown out of exactly a week ago - the long one that we got all the Fitbit steps in (see Don’t Compare Places to Bangkok, But Phnom Penh is Very Like Bangkok). This time however it was considerably more busy and it took ages to get through the passport checks, the two other passport checks and the security.

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