F1 continued/ Apocalypse soonish

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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1
October 25th 2010
Published: October 25th 2010
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Sorry for the lack of blogs recently everyone, I was busy having a lot of fun in Vietnam and the internet there was pretty shoddy, I will do my best to catch up soon. Anyway this continues the day after the race in Singapore ...

We had until Tuesday afternoon before we could collect our visas for Vietnam , luckily for us Mike and Jane had kindly said we could stay for a few more days whilst we sorted out our travel arrangements. After we had dragged ourselves out of bed on Monday we spent what was left of the day helping Jane with some more packing for the upcoming house-move. In the evening we ate a delicious home cooked chicken casserole and had a few beers at the condo. On Tuesday we collected our visas from the embassy, we had already booked a flight to Saigon on Wednesday meaning we had one last night in Singapore.

Jane was busy that night so we arranged to meet Mike after work for some goodbye drinks, he took us to a few bars around Boat Quay that had their own microbreweries, at one of them i tried a 'Green Monster', a bright green lager which the owners shockingly claimed could cure AIDS! After this we went back to 'Our Village' Indian restaurant we had eaten ate on Friday night for dinner and then rounded off the night with a few beers (served by the litre) in a German bar near Mike's condo. When we got back we said our goodbyes to Mike and Jane as they would be leaving for work before we got up, then hit the sack. The following day we caught a taxi to the airport and boarded our Tiger Airways flight bound for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

A quick summary of our time in Malaysia/Singapore:

Malaysia is an amazing country, such a mix of cultures. But whether Malay, Chinese, Indian or one of the many other peoples living side by side they were always friendly and welcoming. I will never forget the time I spent there either relaxing on one of many beautiful islands, trekking through the jungle or soaking up the culture of the very diverse cities, neither will I forget the amazing people I met there, most notably John Thang in Melaka, K and Alias in Taman Negara, Bart and Amanda, Steve the Sydney serpent and the host of other backpackers who have been excellent company.

As for Singapore, What a place! Truly a city of the future, and the time spent there with Becky, Mike and Jane was great fun. Before I continue I'd like to send out a special thank you to Mike, Jane and Becky for making our time in Singapore so enjoyable and memorable. Without them we wouldn't have seen half of the things we did or had anywhere near as good a time! If your reading this guys THANK YOU!!

On to Vietnam ....

We arrived at Saigon airport without any local currency or US dollars due to a faulty ATM at Singapore airport. We tried to withdraw some cash to catch a taxi into town and found both our cards would not work, not good! We were in a new country for the 1st time, no-one we could find spoke English and we were broke, thank god for my emergency credit card! We eventually managed to get some cash, it was very confusing, the currency in Vietnam is the dong (about 30,000 dong = 1 pound), for the 1st and probaly last time in my life i had a couple of million in my wallet.

We caught a taxi towards District 1, the backpackers area, as soon as we got clear of the airport we realised just how different a country it was compared to Malaysia. There is a huge motorbike culture in Vietnam, especially in Saigon. Bikes crowd the road, driving in any direction they like, on either side of the road, using their horns as make shift brakes, sometimes with as many as 5 people on a bike. Compared to this Malaysia seems a well ordered, calm country. We checked into Miss Loi guesthouse, located in a tiny back alley and went out to explore.
Saigon is a busy, vibrant, crowded city where people bombard you everywhere you go with offers of bike rides, massages, cigarettes, drugs and anything else they think you might want. Vietnamese flags, pictures of Ho Chi Minh and communist banners hang everywhere. It took a while to get used to but i soon began to enjoy myself.

On our second day in Saigon we visited the war remnants museum (previously called the American war crimes museum) where they have collections of old planes, tanks, bombs and weapons from the war. They also have a replica prison complete with Tiger cages and stories from the people help prisoner in the real thing. To top it off they had an amazing collection of photos, entitled 'Requiem' all taken by photographers killed in the war. The whole experience was both gripping and shocking, if a little biased (No mention of Vietnamese war crimes) still i would recommend it to anyone visiting Saigon.

That night we went to Allez bo, a bar restaurant on De Tham in the centre of district 1 where we had dinner and some beers. We got chatting to Hung and Mai, a waiter and waitress who worked there. We had a few more drinks and before long Reuben was letting Mai "design" his hair, leaving him with some very feminine plaits. As it was raining hard we stayed inside the bar drinking for quite a while, before we left around 2am Hung made us promise to meet him for lunch the next day so he could show us some traditional Vietnamese food. We stumbled home, Reuben still with his new hair do. I woke around 10:30 with a nasty hangover to the sound of Reuben hassling me to get up and come for lunch. I crawled out of bed and we went to meet Hung, he had promised to give us an education in Vietnamese food, which he did at Pho 24, a restaurant where I had Pho (noodle soup) and spicy pork rice, washed down with some delicious Lotus tea. In the evening we watch the football in the nearby Boston Sports Bar whilst eating dinner and sinking happy hour cocktails.

We spent another 3 days in Saigon and save for visiting the rather un-inspiring emperor jade pagoda we just chilled out, wandered round the city taking in the sights/craziness and tried out a number of bars and restaurants before booking ourselves onto a 3 day tour of the Mekong Delta.


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